867N.00/11–345

The Consul at Jerusalem (Hooper) to the Secretary of State

No. 2263

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 225, November 1, 12 noon, and to my despatch No. 2259 dated November 2, 1945,15 reporting on the concerted sabotage of Palestine railways by armed Jews. The former acquainted the Government in the most immediate manner of the concerted attacks made by the Jews on the transportation system of the country, and I now am able to give the views of Dr. Bernard Joseph, Acting Head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency in the absence of Mr. Shertok.

Dr. Joseph asked for an appointment and visited the Consulate General yesterday, November 2, 1945. The interview took place before the reporting officer and the American Military Liaison Officer attached to this Consulate General. Dr. Joseph’s first statement was [Page 809]to the effect that the Jewish Agency had nothing to conceal from the American Government and that he wished to tell the Consul in Charge whatever he knew of the unfortunate events involving attacks on the railway system and other acts committed during the night of October 31—November 1, 1945.

Dr. Joseph appeared highly excited and under considerable nervous strain. He inferred that the whole matter was being investigated by the Jewish Agency but that he had no positive knowledge as to who the perpetrators were. Although he more or less refrained from point-blank indication that the Hagana had been the responsible body, he repeated several times that an operation of such vastness could only “have been carried out by a large number of people, inferring beyond any doubt that the existing terrorist organizations—Stern and Irgun Zvei Leumi—had no adequate manpower to operate on such a large scale. He indicated that at least 3,000 people must have taken part in the operation.

The conversation revolved around the Palestine Post editorial of the same day. The editorial was highly militant and impressively frank, practically admitting Hagana’s participation in these so-termed “acts of resistance”. The editorial admits that the acts served as “signal that the Jews have gone over from defensive to offensive action”. At another point, the editorial states that “it is not easy to say whether this section of the Yishuv or that, or a combination of its elements, has launched itself on a career of violence”. Still at another point, the editorial proclaims that “it is difficult to see how any Jew can be dissociated in thought if not in fact from what has happened”. The strongest implication that Hagana participated in the events appears in the following statement of the same editorial: “There have been suggestions that the elements in the Yishuv dedicated hitherto to the defense of Jewish life and property (unmistakably Hagana) despising aggression and rejecting retaliation have now been impelled towards direct action.”

Dr. Joseph, in disclaiming positive knowledge Hagana’s part in the outrages, very readily admitted that sentiments expressed in the editorial were the true sentiments of the Yishuv as a whole. In questioning Dr. Joseph on the connection between the Jewish Agency and the Hagana, Dr. Joseph stated that as far as the Jewish Agency was concerned Hagana existed solely for the protection of lives and property of the Yishuv, and if the Hagana should choose to branch into other fields of activity, of offensive nature for example, the Jewish Agency would hardly be able to exercise any control over that body. He insisted that no fusion had taken place of Hagana and the terrorist organizations and pointed to the fact that the Jewish Agency cooperated closely with the Government in breaking up terrorist activities [Page 810]during the past year. He admitted that some members of Hagana have joined the Irgun Zvei Leumi.

The question of dissolution of the Jewish Agency came up and Dr. Joseph admitted that such a possibility, indeed, existed. The impression gained from his statement was that either the Jewish Agency would so lose control over the Yishuv as to be unable to operate effectively or else would be presumed by the authorities as the guiding force of the resistance movement and would be dissolved as a security measure.

Dr. Joseph, ordinarily a somewhat emotional person, appeared in an exceedingly high state of excitment. His occasional outbreaks in the defense of the outrages belied many of his more formal statements but left little doubt in the minds of the interviewing officers as to the part played by the Jewish Agency and the organizations it controls.

A question was put to Dr. Joseph as to whether the Yishuv was prepared to sacrifice a large number of lives. Dr. Joseph’s retort was that they were willing, inasmuch as there seemed to be no other way to impress the people in Great Britain and America that the Jews were willing to die in the defense of their rights and homeland and for their ideals.

Dr. Joseph was quite insistent that should the Jews be left alone, that is should the British troops be withdrawn, they could cope with the menacing attitude of the surrounding Arab countries very effectively with their superior training, their courage, their convictions, and, of course, their arms, which they are well able to use.

Dr. Joseph indicated that in this moment of stress, he regretted greatly the absence of Mr. Shertok and said that he cabled Mr. Shertok requesting his immediate return. In making a comment on political future of the Agency, he indicated that Dr. Weizmann’s resignation is feasible.

Respectfully yours,

Malcolm P. Hooper
  1. Latter not printed.