The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 55

My Dear Mr. President: You will recall last October your insistence that an American mission should go to the Near East to assist the cause of the United Nations by taking advantage of the goodwill [Page 782] that exists for the United States in that area. The final agreement with the British was for Lieutenant Colonel Harold B. Hoskins, A.U.S.,56 and one officer to make a survey trip.

Colonel Hoskins has now returned after three and one-half months in which he visited all of the Near East and North Africa.

During the course of his visit he saw and talked to British, French, and American military and political officials, and to a large number of the leading Arab and Jewish officials and prominent persons in that area. A copy of his report is attached.57

I believe that at least the summary warrants your careful reading. I also trust I may have your approval for further efforts along the lines indicated and for the wording of the proposed United Nations’ declaration attached hereto, which, if you concur, we could first discuss with the British and subsequently with other United Nations.

Faithfully yours,

Cordell Hull
[Enclosure 1]

Summary of Lieutenant Colonel Harold B. Hoskins’ Report on the Near East

Part I gives the outstanding facts developed in the course of his three and one-half months’ trip through the Near East and North Africa and may be summarized as follows:

(1) The most important and most serious fact is the danger that, unless definite steps are taken to prevent it, there may be a renewed outbreak of fighting between Arabs and Jews in Palestine before the end of the war and perhaps even during the next few months. Such fighting in Palestine is almost certain to lead to the massacre of Jews living in the neighboring states of Iraq and Syria as well as in other places in the Near East.

The tension is growing steadily and as a result the Arabs are likely to be goaded as their only effective means of protest into breaking the informal truce which has existed in Palestine since the outbreak of the war in 1939. The Arabs feel that the Zionists, by continuing a world-wide propaganda for a Jewish State in Palestine, have not kept their part of the bargain. There is therefore in the minds of the Arabs a growing fear that unless they do something, they will be faced, when the war is over, with a decision already taken by the Great Powers to turn Palestine over to the Jews. This fear is, of course, one on which Axis propaganda to this area has constantly and effectively harped.

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(2) The Jews feel that with their increased numbers and with their increased stocks of arms they can more than hold their own in actual fighting with Palestinian Arabs. However, from previous experience the Jews realize that, whenever serious fighting with the Arabs starts in Palestine, assistance from neighboring Arab states will again pour in. It is this increased opposition that the Zionists admit they probably do not have the power to overcome without outside assistance from British or British and American military forces.

(3) There is an ever-present Arab fear of American support for political Zionism with its proposed Jewish State and Jewish Army in Palestine. This is now extending to the further fear of American support for the penetration of Jewish people into Syria and other neighboring Arab areas, once Palestine has been fully populated.

(4) There is also a growing Syrian fear of American support for, or at least acquiescence in, a continuation of French control in Syria after this war is over. The Syrians remember that, after the last war and despite an overwhelming preference for the United States and specific objection to France, the mandates for Syria and Lebanon were nevertheless given to France.

In fact, the fear that already haunts all of the Near East is that at the end of the present World War the United States may again return to isolationism. Even today this is the cause of such worry that reference is made to it in almost every conversation held with private or official individuals.

(5) Tension and difficulties with the Arabs in North Africa have already been reported to the War Department by General Eisenhower.58 The unenthusiastic, and in some places uncooperative, attitude of the North African Arab populations reflects hostile propaganda that has claimed that American successes in North Africa would aid the Jewish cause in Palestine.

Obviously the security of American or United Nations troops in the Arab or Moslem world has not yet reached a critical stage. But the situation is definitely unhealthy. The experiences of British troops during their retreat in Burma are a grave and recent warning of the serious effects that a hostile, rather than friendly, native population can have on our military operations.

(6) Since Zionist propaganda in the United States is much greater than corresponding Arab pressure, it is important for the American people to realize that, in the Moslem world, Arab feelings remain uncompromisingly against the acceptance of a political Zionist State in Palestine.

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It should be very clear to the American people, therefore, that only by military force can a Zionist State in Palestine be imposed upon the Arabs.

Part II notes some of the effects of the Arab-Jew conflict in Palestine on the United States.

Our domestic disunity is aggravated by dissension among American citizens of various foreign born groups and increasing conflicts among various Jewish groups, as well as increasing anti-Semitism.

An unfortunate effect for the Jews themselves has resulted from mixing together two problems that should be kept quite separate. Support for all-out aid to persecuted Jews in Europe, on which there can be no difference of opinion, should not be diminished by tying it up with the extremely controversial proposal to establish a Jewish political state in Palestine.

Part III suggests a specific step toward winning wartime support for our United Nations’ cause of the 60 million Arabs in North Africa and the Near East.

(1) By the issuance now of a brief statement by the United Nations (or at least by the four major powers) giving assurances regarding the procedure that will be followed in arriving at a post-war settlement of Palestine. Such a statement need only restate as official policy of the United Nations, in regard to Palestine what the United States, Great Britain, and their Allies have already announced as their general policy in regard to territorial problems everywhere. This assurance can be very brief and need only consist of two points: (1) that no final decisions regarding Palestine will be taken until after the war; (2) that any post-war decisions will be taken only after full consultation with both Arabs and Jews.

A statement along these lines issued as soon as possible would go far to relieve existing tension in the Near East and would, in the opinion of officials in that area, be the military equivalent of at least several extra divisions of troops.

Part IV outlines a post-war solution.

The existing population of one million Arabs and one-half million Jews in Palestine is not to be moved and is to form a bi-national state within a proposed Levant Federation. This independent Levant Federation would be formed by the re-uniting of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Trans-Jordan that, prior to their dismemberment after the last war, had for years been one natural economic and political unit. The Holy Places, including Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Bethlehem, are to be an enclave under United Nations’ control. The cession of some specific territory other than Palestine for a Jewish State is proposed—possibly northern Cirenaica, which is now virtually uninhabited.

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The Jewish refugee problem is met to the extent that, under the proposed plan, the Jews could put another half million in Palestine so as to reach parity with the Arabs and up to a half million Jews in northern Cirenaica.

[Enclosure 2]

Proposed Declaration

The United Nations, having in mind the terms of their Declaration of January 1, 1942,59 are agreed that while public discussions on controversial international questions are in general desirable, in order to promote an informed public opinion and clarification of the issues involved, it is undesirable that special viewpoints should be pressed while the war is in progress to such a degree as to create undue anxieties among United Nations and other friendly governments and peoples.

In this connection, the United Nations have taken note of public discussions and activities of a political nature relating to Palestine and consider that it would be helpful to the war effort if these were to cease. Accordingly, the United Nations declare it to be their view that no decision altering the basic situation of Palestine should be considered until after the conclusion of the war. When the matter is considered, both Arabs and Jews should be fully consulted and their agreement sought.

  1. Notation by the President; “CH OK FDR.”
  2. Army of the United States.
  3. Report of April 20, 1943, not printed; a summary of the report, also enclosed, is printed below.
  4. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, Mediterranean Theater.
  5. Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. i, p. 25.