The Chargé in Syria (Satterthwaite) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 21—11:20 a.m.]
13. Local press has given limited publicity to Reuter despatch quoting alleged statement by President Roosevelt regarding Zionist state in Palestine. As a result students are on strike today, the city is partially closed, and a force of Syrian gendarmerie has been posted in front of the Legation. No disorders have occurred however.
The new Minister of Public Instruction44 who is American educated informed me last evening that he had had great difficulty in dissuading the students from instigating serious demonstrations yesterday. He said that he thought there might be some disorders today but that they would not be serious as he had convinced the students that a wiser course would be to take advantage of Minister Henderson’s45 [Page 694]presence in Damascus to present the following petition to the Legation:
“The students of Damascus, hurt by the last statement made by President Roosevelt regarding the opening of the doors of Palestine to Zionist immigration and by his confirmation of the statement he made during October of 1944, and by his decision to follow a colonial policy which would verify the establishment of a Zionist home in Palestine thus throwing the rights of the Arabs to the winds, protest against such statements which are inconsistent with the principles of liberty in the defense of which the nations are fighting, principles which have been proclaimed by the democracies to the world on several occasions. The students assure you moreover that Palestine is an inseparable part of the Arab world and that every attempt at its partition will be considered as injuring the very foundations of Arabism. The Arab world will never consent to such an attempt.”
A similar petition was presented this morning by a committee of students representing the Syrian University.