FEBRUARY 27, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—The very extraordinary outburst of British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin against President Truman's restatement last October of a position which he had stated many times, necessitates a little clear thinking on the part of all of us.
Mr. Bevin will remember that it was at the British Government's request that a commission of inquiry composed of British and Americans restudied the question of Palestine. At the time, it seemed to me an utterly unnecessary commission, since we already knew, as did Great Britain, all there was to know on that subject. Therefore, there could be only one reason for the request—namely, that Great Britain desired to have the United States accept some responsibility for any future policy. From later developments it was made clear that we, at least, had not understood that we were assuming any military responsibility, but had thought that the report of the commission would carry some weight.
As far as I know, the recommendations that were made might just as well never have been made. The average public can only judge, as I do, by what they see day by day in the press. They cannot have private information which we suppose is available to the foreign offices of the world. But those foreign offices must be as familiar as the average individual with stands which are clearly understood in every country.
It can have been no surprise to Mr. Bevin that the President of the United States, in accordance with the recommendations of the Anglo-American Commission—which Great Britain had asked for—called for the admission of 100,000 refugees into Palestine. It can have been no surprise to the Arabs. So this sudden attack on the part of the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain seems to have occurred under the impact of sudden anger, perhaps not entirely concerned with Palestine.
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No one in the world thinks that the question of Palestine is an easy one for Great Britain. And the world is aware of the troubles facing the British Empire today, which have come about largely because of the slowness with which certain inevitable changes have been faced—not just in Great Britain but in many other parts of the world. If India had been developed to the point where Canada now stands, there would be no problem in India. But that is hindsight, and we cannot turn back the pages of history.
We can, however, accept the situation as it is in the world today and we can suggest to other nations, such as the Arabs, that there are advantages to be gained from doing so. The Palestine question is a thorny problem, and in all probability no one is going to be completely satisfied with the way it is settled.
It looks strangely like looking for a whipping boy, however, when Great Britain's Foreign Secretary suddenly accuses the President of the United States of having made agreement impossible by restating a stand from which he has never deviated. Even the Arabs couldn't have been so much surprised by this stand. They belong to the United Nations and have been in the United States. Undoubtedly they also read the newspapers. I suppose that the President, being a patient man, will accept Mr. Bevin's remarks with charity and will recognize that a fit of temper has created a tempest in a teapot.