Secretary’s Memoranda: Lot 53 D 444

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State 1

confidential

Subject:

1.
Israel request for a grant-in-aid of $150 million from the US.
2.
Israel claim to reparations from Germany of $1,500,000,000.
3.
Request that Prime Minister Ben-Gurion be extended official invitation to visit the US.

Participants: S—The Secretary
H.E. Abba Eban, Ambassador of Israel
The Honorable David Horowitz, Director General, Israel Ministry of Finance
NE—Mr. Waldo
[Page 606]

1. The Ambassador of Israel called on me, accompanied by Mr. Horowitz, to present and discuss a note2 requesting a $150 million grant-in-aid from the US for the period July 1, 1951 through June 1, 1952.

The Ambassador reviewed the three points on which the Israel Government based its request for special assistance from the US:

(1)
An increase of 510,000 in Israel’s population from the proclamation of the State to the present, and an expected increase of 600,000 in the next three years;
(2)
The heavy defense expenditures which were required by Israel as a result of the refusal of the Arab states to make peace in the Near East; and
(3)
The financial commitments which arose from Israel’s declared willingness to contribute generously to the reintegration fund of the UNRWA in payment of compensation to the Arabs.

The Ambassador reviewed the substance of the note in full and said that he believed that US assistance to Israel was consistent with the objectives of the US aid programs which had already been undertaken. There was some reason to believe that there might be certain unwillingness to assist Israel because of the attitude of Israel’s neighbors. The Israel Government felt that this was a negative approach to the problem and thought that, instead, a positive policy of extending aid to both Israel and Israel’s neighbors should be followed rather than one of withholding aid from Israel.

Mr. Horowitz said that Israel was tapping every possible source of aid and doing everything feasible to assist itself. He mentioned the $500 million bond issue, the increased activities of the United Jewish Appeal, et cetera.

I asked the Ambassador whether the grant was supposed to assist Israel over the three-year period or was merely a request for one year. He replied that the $150 million covered the estimated additional needs of Israel for this period; he did not know what might be necessary after the year had elapsed.

I informed the Ambassador that I would study the note most carefully.3

2. The Ambassador then said he wished to bring to my attention a note which had been delivered by the Embassy to the Bureau of German Affairs on March 12 requesting US assistance in obtaining [Page 607] reparations from Germany of $1,500,000,000. The Ambassador outlined the various reasons why he felt that Israel was entitled to this sum of money from Germany, and requested the Department’s sympathetic assistance. I said that I would study the matter.

3. The Ambassador inquired whether it would be possible for the President to extend an invitation to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to pay an official visit to the US in the near future. The Ambassador said that the Prime Minister was most anxious to come and that such a visit could be most useful. I told the Ambassador that I was pretty sure of the President’s thinking in this regard. I was certain, therefore, that it would be impossible to extend such an invitation to the Israel Prime Minister; the President was very busy and had already too many state visits on his calendar for this year. The Ambassador then inquired, if the Prime Minister visited this country in an informal capacity, whether the President and I would be willing to see him. I said that I could not say at this time but would have to consider the matter very carefully.

  1. Memorandum drafted by Mr. Waldo.
  2. Department of State files contain an Israeli note on this subject dated March 15, not printed. (884A.00 TA/3–1550) No other Israeli note on the aid request has been found in Department of State files.
  3. In a memorandum of a conversation with President Truman on March 23, Mr. Acheson made the following reference to the Israeli aid request:

    “I informed the President of the request made by the Israeli Ambassador of me yesterday and of the proposed bill which some Senators were going to introduce.

    “I explained that no decision was asked of the President at this time.” (884A.00/3–1551)