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(a) There is now a pro-German government in Iraq which has control of the army.

(6) There is a Nationalist Government in Syria which probably will not do very much to resist German infiltration.

(c) The position of Ibn Saud ? is still in doubt. (d) Palestine is garrisoned by British troops.

The heart of the anti-British, anti-American propaganda and the consideration which prevents Arabs either here or in Arabia from backing the Allies is their fear of increased political dominion by the Zionist groups.

The British cannot detach a force sufficient to take care of all these situations. They need that force for defense of Egypt on the west, for the Balkan campaign and for the defense of Singapore. The Persian Gulf-Tigris and Euphrates line of communication into Turkey is thus pretty well cut, unless there is some major reversal of Arab sentiment.

It seems to me that we can only attack this by an attempt to resolve the Zionist controversy, and when that is done, to put ourselves into a position to make certain effective promises to the Arabian groups. We can easily get our case stated in Arabia, partly through our missions and still more through interested Arabian groups here once we have something definite to say.

The head of the Zionist movement, Dr. Weizmann, is in the United States now. He ought to be able to see the main desideratum, namely, that if the Mediterranean is closed, the extermination of the Zionists in Palestine is only a question of time. If he does see this, it might be possible to get him to take a more reasonable attitude than has been taken heretofore, namely, that the British ought to put enough force into Arabia to guarantee the Zionist political dominion.

It seems to me that it would be pertinent, in any event, to have Dr. Weizmann in and put the situation up to him. I propose exploring this further with the Near Eastern Division and establishing at least tentative contact with Weizmann with a view to possibly taking the matter up with him should it seem possible that we can do anything.

867N.01/1739 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State


[WASHINGTON,] April 15, 1941. Dr. Emanuel Neumann 8 came in to see me. I had intimated that I should be glad to see someone representing Dr. Weizmann, informally.

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Dr. Neumann explained that Dr. Weizmann would have come himself, but that he was not well.

I said that I had nothing particular in mind, except that I wanted to go over the situation of the Zionists in Palestine in the light of the present unfavorable moves. Many of these people were American citizens, or of American origin, and we have had a very considerable interest in the Zionist situation.

I said that while we had every hope that it would not occur, we had at least to consider the possibility that the British might be so hard beset that they did not have force available to defend Palestine. There had been a more or less pro-German coup d'état in Iraq; and the Germans were, of course, attacking Egypt.

I said I thought it would be the part of statesmanship for the group Dr. Weizmann represented to consider what they might do in that situation. They would then be face to face with the Arabs, without any screen of protecting force. It would seem that some sort of understanding with the Arabs might at that time become a crucial necessity. I did not presume to suggest whether, or how, it could be done—but merely expressed the personal hope that they would consider the matter and possibly consult a little with Mr. Wallace Murray, in the event that they had any tangible ideas.

Dr. Neumann said he appreciated our interest in the matter, and was glad we were thinking about it. They themselves were canvassing various ideas.

867N.01/17297 Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

(Murray) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

[WASHINGTON,] April 16, 1941. MR. WELLES: I concur in Mr. Berle's views as expressed in the attached memorandum.' Certainly it could do no harm to explore the situation with Dr. Weizmann. However, I am doubtful whether he would agree to any modification of Zionist policy. Moreover, I am doubtful whether any offers or promises which Dr. Weizmann might make at this eleventh hour would be acceptable to the Arabs. Doubtless the Arabs now believe that they have a whole loaf within their grasp in the shape of the expulsion of the Jews from Palestine or their extermination. Why, therefore, should they accept half a loaf in the shape of a commitment from the Jews that the latter would abandon in whole or in part their plan for a National Home in Palestine?

Dated April 14, p. 597

Nevertheless, it is no solution merely to point out the difficulties. Therefore, provided it is practicable from a domestic viewpoint, I believe some useful purpose might be served by exploring the situation with Dr. Weizmann with a view to seeing whether something can be done to salvage the situation in the Middle East.


867N.01/1741 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State


[WASHINGTON,] April 21, 1941. Mr. Butler of the British Embassy called on me this afternoon at the request of Lord Halifax.10

Mr. Butler first spoke of the great concern occasioned the Embassy by the announcement of the dinner which was to be held in Washington on April 30 under the aegis of Senator Wagner and some other equally prominent Senators and of Mr. William Green of the American Federation of Labor at which Doctor Weizmann is due to speak in behalf of the Zionist movement in Palestine. The British Embassy feels that German propaganda is now directed in the Arab world towards making it appear that the British Government is completely under the domination of the United States and that the United States would force Great Britain at the end of the war, if Great Britain is victorious, to open up all of Palestine to Jewish resettlement. The British Government believes that this is an exceedingly dangerous form of propaganda and that if speeches are now made in the United States by prominent persons high in the Government advocating the immediate opening up of Palestine to the Jewish resettlement planners in the event of a British victory, very great unrest will be created in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq, where a highly critical situation already exists. The British Government urged that the Executive branch of this Government do what it could to make this situation clear to the sponsors of the dinner.

I said that I would be very glad to look into the matter and that I would let Mr. Butler know in the immediate future what steps, if any, could be taken in that direction.


10 The Ambassador had called on the Secretary of State on April 19 regarding this pro-Jewish activity and had been told that it would be difficult to deal with the matter.

867N.01/1735 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)

[WASHINGTON,] April 22, 1941. While calling today on another matter the Turkish Ambassador 11 said that he had been rather disturbed by a newspaper report to the effect that seventy United States Senators had joined in making a declaration calling for "every possible encouragement to the movement for the restoration of the Jews in Palestine". The Ambassador said that in his opinion such activities were particularly harmful to the British cause in the Near East and might also be expected to have unfavorable repercussions for the Jews themselves. The Ambassador added that his Government had had long experience in dealing with the Arabs and knew their mentality thoroughly. There was not the slightest question in his mind that activities in the United States favoring further Jewish immigration into and control of Palestine were used by the Axis Powers in their propaganda with the Arab countries. Every such activity as that of the American Palestine Committee only further inflamed Arab opinion and increased the difficulties of the British in the vital area of the Near East. I told the Ambassador that of course the Senators and Members of Congress were quite free to join any committee which they pleased and that obviously the executive branch of the Government had no control over such activities. The Ambassador said he fully realized this fact, but he wondered whether the Senators themselves realized that in foreign countries their activities on behalf of the Jewish National Home could only be interpreted as representing the policy of the United States Government. He said that people abroad were generally quite aware of the importance and influence of the United States Senators and attached great importance to declarations such as that which had been recently made by the seventy Senators. The Ambassador went on to say that any activities which served to inflame the Arabs in the Near East and to add to the difficulties of the British were naturally of great interest to his own Government, which was in alliance with Great Britain. He added that the question indeed went beyond the Arab countries and affected India as well. He said that he had many close friends among the Indian Moslems and that he could give me his solemn assurance that the Moslem group in India upon whom Great Britain depended for support in that country could be only adversely affected by statements such as that made by the seventy

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Senators. He said that it was unnecessary for him to stress the importance to Great Britain of the loyal Moslems of India and the unfortunate repercussions that might ensue if they felt that their coreligionists in Palestine were not being given equitable treatment.

I asked the Ambassador if he desired me to make a memorandum of this conversation for the information of the executive officers of the Department, and he said he would be very glad to have that done.

367N.1115/218: Telegram

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

JERUSALEM, May 1, 1941–3 p. m.

[Received May 2—10:25 a. m.] 63. Recent war developments have resulted in considerable uneasiness, though not panic, among Americans, particularly Jews, who fear that in the event of German occupation those of their race would not only receive especially harsh treatment from the Germans but might also be menaced by a recrudescence of Arab terrorism.

British officials while somewhat perturbed profess confidence that Palestine is not immediately menaced. Chief Secretary in conversation with me yesterday declared British have no thought of evacuating Palestine. When I mentioned tentative plans made in compliance with Department's instruction of August 31, 1936 12 for protection of Americans in case of emergency he stated that no such plans, even tentative, had been prepared with respect to British civilians. He then added in reply to my question that should an emergency arise making advisable such evacuation the Government would be pleased to lend the Consulate General such assistance as might be possible in evacuating Americans.

In view of numerous recent inquiries I should appreciate receiving as soon as it may be available to the Department information as to passenger facilities on American vessels which, it is understood, may shortly be reaching Egypt via the Red Sea.

Since drafting above I have been informed by Military Intelligence officer that persistent rumors yesterday and today report landing of air-borne German troops in Syria.13 These reports are not from British agents, are unconfirmed, and the officer in question does not credit them, although he said that London considers it not impossible that such an attempt may be made.


12 Not printed.
13 For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 686 ff.

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