The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia
(Hare) to the
Department of State
445. No distribution outside State Dept. Crown Prince left Jidda prior receipt Deptel 339, Nov 26,1 and, in absence here now of any sufficiently high-ranking official, will wait next trip to Riyadh to discuss. Re concluding para ref tel, believe preferable take up only here originally since subject very sensitive and reaction likely be unfavorable if we dig in both spurs at once.
Meanwhile following comment may not be amiss in appraisal problem:[Page 2430]
- Saudi attitude is not only result Pal troubles but goes back to time Prophet Mohammed, who was originally favorably disposed to Jews but, following trouble with Jews in vicinity Medina, was turned against them. As consequence, practically only Jews residing in Arabian Peninsula since that time were confined to former colonies in Yemen and Asir, and Jewish visitors were infrequent. Pal difficulties thus only served intensify previously existing attitude and, in this respect, problem here different than in other Arab states where Moslem-Jewish relationship did not follow same pattern.
- Attitude of Saudis re Jews is paralleled by practically identical policy toward Communists, both being regarded as potentially dangerous from standpoint security.
- Saudi feeling has religious and political background, not racial. Saudis have no more contempt of anti-Semitism as manifested in West than they have understanding of disabilities to which Saudi persons of color subjected when traveling in certain parts of US.
- . . . Prince Faisal was particularly bitter following his UN experience during Pal debate2 but has gradually become less extreme in discussing matter. . . .
- There is no discrimination here against American Jews as such. Saudi restrictive measures apply to all Jews regardless of nationality and, to extent any distinction as between Jews, American Jews are relatively more favored. Thus American commercial firms with Jewish connections apparently treated more favorably than most others and restrictions air transit and over flight are of general application to planes all countries.
- Basic arguments mentioned in ref tel have been repeatedly advanced in connection with specific cases as they have arisen. Thus in approaching Saudis now we shall be battling over terrain already familiar to both sides.
- Saudis are not unaccustomed to criticism in US press but they wld probably be somewhat bewildered if furore shld be raised, as Dept suggests possible, re subject Deptel 273,3 Nov 1, where Saudis acceded to our request, albeit reluctantly, and visit passed off smoothly.
Foregoing is presented not as apology for Saudi attitude but in attempt evaluate facts; to show that, although Pal still inflamed wound, Saudi attitude has roots going deeper than current situation; and to suggest that any sudden and radical change is difficult foresee regardless somberness of picture which we many paint of consequences if Saudis fail heed our admonitions. However, I fully appreciate seriousness of situation as disturbing element in Saudi–US relations and agree effort shld be made to do all we can to ameliorate. [Page 2431] Consequently I shall take up frankly with Crown Prince soonest and report outcome.