MARCH 1, 1948
HYDE PARK, Sunday—Suddenly, out of a clear sky, I have begun to receive letters from different parts of the country urging that the United Nations reconsider its position on Palestine. Added are long explanations as to why the Arabs, with a small country and with such limited resources, should under no circumstances be asked to give up any of their land, but that instead we should donate one of our states to the Palestinian Jews.
This particular suggestion is somewhat funny. I can quite understand how certain groups who feel that we would profit by Jewish immigration might ask us to receive not only those who are in Palestine but all the other Jewish displaced persons. But that we be asked to arbitrarily displace citizens of a certain state, and turn that state over to the Jews, strikes me as a suggestion to which the writers gave very little thought!
Of course, if we were to look upon the question of Palestine from the purely economic standpoint, we might say quite truthfully that the Arabs had never developed Palestine to the extent that the Jews have in the last few years, and that with the irrigation projects possible in the future both Arabs and Jews could probably achieve a better standard of living than they ever had before in that area.
The present problem, however, is not just an economic one. Many factors enter into it and they have been considered over the last 30 years by a great many people. If the Jewish homeland was not acceptable, that fact should have been explained many years ago to Jewish people the world over.
But even this is not the question we face today, and that is why these letters which come to me seem to show such a lack of understanding. They seem to take it for granted that the General Assembly voted on this question without any real thought being given to it—which, of course, is not true. Only the General Assembly itself can change its vote, and it seems to me that it would be disastrous to the prestige of the United Nations if a decision once taken were not carried out.
All of us have a real stake in upholding the United Nations, since it is the only machinery through which we can deal with aggressive nations and try to build peace in the world. I look at the Palestine question purely as one of upholding the United Nations, and I think the United States should do whatever the United Nations asks, since it is clearly the United Nations' responsibility to keep peace in all parts of the world if it can.
At the moment, one has the feeling that the USSR has forgotten it ever agreed to have regard for the rights of small nations. The Arabs, in turn, apparently believe that if you don't like a U.N. decision, you don't have to pay any attention to it. Perhaps someday we will get back to the realization that the countries of the world once really thought it important to join together to avoid just such a situation as we are facing today.