Lieutenant Colonel Harold B. Hoskins 33 to the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Alling)

My Dear Paul: In line with your suggestion, I am sending you some information summarizing the luncheon I had on Saturday … The luncheon was an entirely informal one with simply the President, Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Boettiger.…

[Here follows discussion regarding several Near and Middle Eastern countries and their problems.]


I asked if the problem of Palestine had been discussed at Yalta, and he [President Roosevelt] said “no”. The President said Mr. Churchill is as strongly pro-Zionist as ever and, among other ideas, Mr. Churchill wanted to put the Jews into Libya. The President said he had mentioned this to Ibn Saud, who objected violently, saying this would be unfair to the Moslems in North Africa. Mrs. Roosevelt referred to the wonderful work that had been done by the Zionists in certain parts of Palestine, which I agreed had been very well done. The President, however, commented on the fact that, except along [Page 691]the coastal plain, Palestine looked extremely rocky and barren to him as he flew over it. Mrs. Roosevelt commented on the fact that the Zionists felt much stronger and were perhaps willing to risk a fight with the Arabs at Palestine. Mr. Roosevelt agreed that this was a possibility, but reminded her that there were 15,000,000 or 20,000,000 Arabs in and around Palestine and that, in the long run, he thought these numbers would win out. I said that the Zionists had attacked me particularly for the statement in my 1943 report34 that a Zionist State in Palestine could be installed and maintained only by force. I asked the President if he agreed with this conclusion, which the Zionists continue to deny most aggressively, and he said he fully agreed with me. As Gordon Merriam35 suggested, I then mentioned the fact that the State Department had a plan for Palestine as the country to be made an international territory sacked to all three religions—Moslem, Christian and Jew—which had been developed as a result of the suggestions which he had made to me when I saw him before, of a trusteeship for Palestine.36 The President said he thought such a plan might well be given to the United Nations Organization after it had been set up to work out problems along these lines.

I asked him about Stalin’s viewpoint on the Jews. He said that Stalin had stated that he, Stalin, was neither pro-Zionist nor anti-Zionist, and the President’s comment was that at least Stalin was not the Jew-hater that he had been charged in some quarters with being.

[Here follows discussion of other Near Eastern countries and certain regional problems.]

Sincerely yours,

Harold B. Hoskins
  1. Lieutenant Colonel Hoskins was at this time Economic Adviser to the Legation in Egypt, with concurrent appointments to the Legations in Syria and Lebanon, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Ethiopia.
  2. For a bracketed note regarding Lieutenant Colonel Hoskins’ report of April 20, 1943 on the situation in the Near East, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, p. 19; for a “Summary” of the report, dealing almost exclusively with the Palestine question, see ibid., p. 782.
  3. Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs.
  4. For the conversation between President Roosevelt and Lieutenant Colonel Hoskins on September 27, 1943, in which the President outlined his thinking for an international trusteeship for Palestine, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iv, p. 811; subsequent discussion of this subject in the Department in 1943 is found ibid., pp. 815 822, passim. For development of this idea as a plan of government for Palestine with particular reference to Under Secretary of State Stettinius’ mission to London in April 1944, see ibid., 1944, vol. v, pp. 593, 594, and 601 602.