No. 647
Memorandum by the Director of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson)

Memorandum of Conversation

Participants: Rabbi Wise, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Mr. Chaim Greenberg, Mr. Shulman,
Mr. Grew
Mr. Henderson

Mr. Grew received this afternoon a group of Zionists including Rabbi Wise, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Mr. Chaim Greenberg, and Mr. Shulman. Mr. Henderson, Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, was also present.

. . . . . . .

… Mr. Grew stated that he [had] read with care a memorandum1 setting forth in detail the statements made several days previously by Dr. Goldmann to Mr. Henderson regarding the problems which the Zionists were facing and regarding the views of Dr. Goldmann as [Page 975] to what the attitude of the British and American Governments with regard to Palestine should be. He said that it would appear from the statements which Dr. Goldmann had made that there was a growing demand on the part of Zionists in the United States that decisive steps with regard to the future of Palestine should be taken in the near future.

Dr. Goldmann said that since Mr. Grew was already acquainted with the nature of his statements to Mr. Henderson and since in his talk with Mr. Henderson he had expressed the views of the Zionist leaders represented by the visiting delegation, there appeared to be no use in taking up the valuable time of Mr. Grew by repeating all of the remarks which he had made to Mr. Henderson. He would, however, like to summarize the situation briefly.

Dr. Goldmann said that by the end of the summer, all certificates issued in accordance with the British White Paper for the immigration of Jews into Palestine would be exhausted and that unless steps were taken to denounce the White Paper or to alter its terms no additional Jews could legally be admitted to Palestine. Since there were thousands of homeless Jews in Europe who were looking to Palestine as their haven of refuge and thousands of other Jews interned in camps in various parts of the world waiting permission to go to Palestine, the situation was becoming unbearable. In spite of the efforts of the moderate Zionist leaders to prevent the outbreak of violence, it was almost certain that there would be Jewish uprisings in Palestine in the near future if attempts should be made to cut off Jewish immigration altogether. Hundreds of thousands of Jews during the last 25 years, relying upon assurances given them by the British and American Governments, had gone to Palestine and had worked there in a self-sacrificing manner in order to lay the foundations for a Jewish national home. These Jews could not countenance restrictions which would now stop Jewish immigration into Palestine. If necessary, they would resort to force in order to assure that Palestine does in fact become a Jewish national home.

. . . . . . .

… [Mr. Shulman said that he] felt that it was a mistaken policy for the United States to show a friendly attitude towards the Arab League or to encourage the making of any concessions, as in the case of Syria and Lebanon, to the so-called Arab States under present circumstances. Only after Palestine has become a Jewish commonwealth should Arab cooperation be treated in a friendly manner or should the Arab States be given any encouragement. Friendly treatment of the Arabs just now might strengthen their unity and crystallize their opposition to Zionism.

[Page 976]

Mr. Grew said that he wondered if, on the other hand, it might not be helpful to the cause of world peace and in the long run to the Jews in Palestine, for the United States to endeavor to promote friendly and close relations with all peoples of the Near East. If the United States had the confidence and friendship of the Arabs, the latter might be more inclined to accept American suggestions with regard to the solution of certain problems in the Near East. Mr. Shulman expressed the view that the Arabs would be inclined to misconstrue friendliness on the part of the United States as evidence of American weakness and Arab strength. He said that following the conclusion of the war there was no valid reason for further delay in the disposition of the problem of Palestine; thousands of Jews were suffering because of their inability to obtain admittance to Palestine and the Arabs were consolidating their strength in order to combat the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.

Mr. Grew remarked that we were still at war; that it was important so long as we were fighting Japan, that there should be tranquility in the Near East. The Zionists themselves undoubtedly realize that the outbreak of hostilities in the Near East resulting from decisions made affecting Palestine would not be in the interest of the United States, or for that matter in the interest of the Zionists.

Great Britain had been made responsible during the period of the war for the maintenance of peace in the Near East and was maintaining armed forces there for that purpose. Since British forces were certain to become involved in case of uprisings, the United States was not in a position to insist that decisions relating to as delicate a question as Palestine be taken against the advice of the British officials responsible for Near Eastern security.

Mr. Shulman and Dr. Goldmann replied that in their opinion a decision to open the doors of Palestine to orderly Jewish immigration would not result in any extensive violence if the Arabs were given to understand that Great Britain and the United States had taken a firm stand and would not be swayed by force or threats of force. In any event, the Jews in Palestine were fully able to protect Palestine and themselves from any Arab attacks. Mr. Shulman added that the Jews desired to be on friendly terms with the Arabs in Palestine and he was sure that such friendship would develop when it finally became clear that Arabs outside of Palestine were not to be allowed to intervene in Palestinian affairs.

Mr. Grew said that there was a possibility that the problem of Palestine might come up during the forthcoming conversations between the President and Mr. Churchill. Rabbi Wise said that Churchill had long been a friend of the Zionists but that there were other members of the British Government who had been holding him [Page 977] back. It was hoped, following the election, that Mr. Churchill would no longer permit himself to be restrained in the matter of Palestine. Many Conservatives and most of the Laborites would be with him.

. . . . . . .

Mr. Grew said that he understood that certain elements among the Zionists were dissatisfied because the attitude of the Zionist leaders was not sufficiently aggressive. Rabbi Wise replied that he and other Zionist leaders had been under fire many times for their refusal to resort to radical methods to attain their ends. A continued postponement of decisions with regard to the problem of Palestine would of course weaken the position of the more moderate Zionists.

L[oy] W H[enderson]
  1. Not printed.