JUNE 22, 1946
HYDE PARK, Friday—There is an article in The Nation by Freda Kirchwey, editor and publisher, which was written in Cairo about the Palestine question and the attitude of British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin. This article appears at a very opportune time. Any one who has been noting what desperate things the Palestinian Jews are doing, in order to hold onto their arms and build up a defense group somewhat akin to underground groups everywhere, must realize the seriousness of the tragedy of the whole situation in Palestine.
I think we should think back over the steps by which we as a nation became involved in this matter. There was a time when we took no responsibility for Palestine. Then Great Britain invited us to take part in a joint commission to study the question.
We knew the conditions in Europe, and so did they. We knew that innumerable Jews in Europe were braving every kind of danger in order to get to Palestine, because it was the only place where they felt they would be at home. We knew the attitude of King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, and we knew the general Arab position.
There was really no need for a commission of inquiry, but we went along with Great Britain. The obvious reason we went along was that we believed Great Britain would accept the report of such a group and try to implement it. It was only fair to suppose that we both had a clear understanding of what our joint obligations to implement any such report would be.
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Now President Truman has appointed a committee to look into this question of implementing the report, but the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, has stated that the real reason we are anxious to see 100,000 Jews admitted to Palestine is that we do not want them in New York. He may be right in what he has said, and I am only sorry that we have not made our position so clear that such things could not be said about us.
It might be unwise to bring into New York, which already is larger than any city should be, a great number of any particular group. But certainly throughout this country we could scatter our share of displaced persons without upsetting our economy. We are not yet at the point where an increase in population is a menace. In fact, it would be quite possible to absorb far more than our share of the displaced people in Europe who are seeking homes.
The particular point at issue, however, is that there are 100,000 Jews in Europe who must find homes immediately and they want to go to Palestine. The Arabs threaten dire things. The British talk about the impossibility of increasing the military force. But surely, our allied Chiefs of Staff could work out some form of military defense for Palestine which would not mean an increase in manpower.
The Arabs are intelligent people and so are we. I cannot believe that they are without mercy any more than we are.