Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Acheson) to the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson)

I have spoken to the Secretary about the matters which you raised at our meeting this morning.

1. His interview with Rabbi Silver.1 Rabbi Silver saw the Secretary to tell him that the Basle Conference2 voted that the Jewish Agency was not to attend the London meetings unless there was some change in the present circumstances. Rabbi Silver believed that there would be such a change if either one of two actions was taken by the British Government. The first would be to announce that they were favorably inclined toward the idea of partition. The Secretary told Rabbi Silver that he thought there was no possibility of Mr. Bevin’s3 making such a statement.

The second was some action by the British Government, such as releasing a substantial number of immigrants who had been taken to Cyprus.4 Rabbi Silver then said that he had discussed this matter with Lord Inverchapel5 and asked the Secretary if he would also discuss it with Lord Inverchapel. The Secretary told Rabbi Silver that he would do this, and, while I was with him, he made a note to ask Lord Inverchapel to call on him in this connection.

2. Policy on observer for the London Conferences. The Secretary confirmed the conclusion that he contemplated sending an observer only [Page 1001] if the Jews as well as the Arabs attended the Conference. He stated that in his opinion the observer should not undertake to be a mediator. This was the role which the British Government was playing and to have two mediators would cause confusion. He thought that the observer should observe and that his principal activity, insofar as he took any part, should be to urge moderation. However, the Secretary said that when he used the word “observer” he did this advisedly.

I went over with the Secretary the various considerations regarding who the observer should be. He thought that the suggestion of Mr. Winant6 was a good one since he was a man of important position and should be regarded as well disposed to all parties in the discussion. He did not know whether Mr. Winant had yet left the United States and thought that if he were still here we might have a preliminary talk with him to see whether he would be available.

Dean Acheson
  1. Abba Hillel Silver, President of the Zionist Organization of America and member of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, American Section. The interview took place on January 6.
  2. The 22d World Zionist Congress met at Basel from December 9 to December 24; for documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. vii, pp. 727737, passim.
  3. Ernest Bevin, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. In telegram 83, January 6, the Embassy in London reported information from the British Foreign Office that David Ben-Gurion, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, informed Arthur Creech Jones, British Secretary of State for the Colonies, on January 2, that the Jewish Agency “would not attend resumed Palestine Conference without major concession from British Government regarding immigration. This being refused, Ben-Gurion said that Zionist Executive was willing to meet with British Government either before, during or after resumed Palestine Conference, only condition being that meeting would not be considered as part of Palestine Conference.” (867N.01/1–647) Telegram 207, January 10, from London, reported further information on the conversation of January 2 as furnished by Nahum Goldmann, member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, London Section, namely, that Mr. Ben-Gurion informed Mr. Creech Jones that the settlement of the Palestine problem must involve free immigration, exploitation of lands not used by the Arabs, and national independence. Mr. Creech Jones was stated to have replied, “I think that we will satisfy all your demands.” (867N.01/1–1047).
  5. The British Ambassador.
  6. John Gilbert Winant, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. He did not undertake duties as American observer because the Jewish Agency did not formally attend the Palestine Conference.