MAY 14, 1947
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I have waited a long time to write this column, but as the United Nations special session on Palestine progresses, it becomes more and more difficult not to express the deep feelings which the events taking place in this session arouse in any fair-minded and compassionate person.
For two years now, displaced Jews have waited for the day of freedom and in many cases they are still behind barbed wire. The question of Palestine is as far from being settled as it was when the war came to an end.
I have reviewed many times in my own mind the history as the layman knows it. I realize perfectly that, from a religious standpoint, Jews, Arabs and Christians all have an interest in the Holy Land. I realize also that the Arabs have an economic interest and a right in much of that area of the world. But the big powers, Great Britain among them, gave their consent to letting a certain area in Palestine be built up as a Jewish homeland.
Jews were allowed to emigrate there. Sacrifices, even of life, went into the settling and development of Palestine by the Jews. The Arabs have found their standards of living raised, and those who were unwilling to change to new methods have probably had a hard time.
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Under the British mandate, through money contributed by Jewish people in many parts of the world, areas of this country have gradually become settled and developed. Possibilities are outlined for future development which many Jewish people feel will support many more of their unfortunate brethren. It is true that, as yet, the Arabs outnumber the Jews in most of this area, but there is no real reason why these two peoples, who have great similarities, cannot live in peace together.
Some of the writers whose articles I have read suggest that, because the Arabs control much oil and because the U. S. and Great Britain are both interested in leasing this oil, they do not wish to offend the Arabs in any way. It seems to me, however, that this question cannot be settled on a commercial basis.
When we allowed the Jews to dream of a homeland and allowed many thousands of them to settle in Palestine—under the British mandate to be sure, but with the hope that someday this would be their country—we tacitly gave our support to this final conclusion. We are obligated today to see it through, giving every consideration, of course, to the rights of the Arabs, guarding their access to the religious shrines that are sacred to them, and seeing that from the economic standpoint whatever is fair is done.
I hope we will make sure that, under the United Nations, peace is assured in this area. Whatever the decisions are, they should be carried out under the protection of the United Nations or of those that the United Nations designate to assume the responsibility.