My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK, Thursday—I have read and reread Secretary of State George C. Marshall's recent statement to the press on our change of policy on Palestine. And in my mind I have gone over the history of the years in which the question of Palestine has been before us.

An editorial in the New York World-Telegram stated: "The ideal Palestine solution is a free democratic country in which all enjoy equal rights and live in peace together." Certainly this is the ideal, and this is undoubtedly what the Jews had in mind after the Balfour Declaration, in which we concurred, and after the agreement which Dr. Chaim Weizmann negotiated with the Arab leaders of that day. The British mandate was a bridge to cover the years of settlement and growth of a nation.

At one time the Arabs were not greatly distressed at the idea of not holding sway over Palestine at some future date, any more than they were over the fact that Great Britain held a mandate over the country. I think there has been an evident change in the Arabs' attitude since they have been selling oil to the great companies of Great Britain and the United States and have been living well on the profits. At least some few people at the top have greatly profited, though there is no notable change in the standard of living of the average, poor Arab citizen.

* * *

Many reports have been made on the Palestine question, none of them entirely satisfactory to anyone. Our country's decision in the United Nations General Assembly to accept the majority report of the commission sent to Palestine by the U.N. was never based on a belief that it was an ideal solution. But naturally, when the United States decides to take a stand, that stand is influential because many people have to turn to us today to meet their various needs.

It was, of course, the desire of the United States that the Palestine solution should be a peaceful one, and it seemed incredible that the Arabs, in the face of a United Nations decision, would withstand that decision with force. There was every reason to suppose that, since economic unity was envisioned, the partition plan could be carried out, and that the people living in the area, Jew and Arab alike, might gradually find ways of meeting the difficulties of a situation which only they themselves could work out.

* * *

I feel that our evident reluctance to accept responsibility and carry out whatever requests the U.N. might make of us, whether of a military or an economic nature, led to increased resistance by the Arabs. They were sure they could have their own way without any consideration of the wishes of the U.N.

The U.N. would have no force unless it was provided by a call on the great nations. And Great Britain was pulling out. This probably meant that we and Russia would be called upon. And our difficulties in Europe made us feel that added difficulties in the Near East would be inevitable if we and the USSR had soldiers and shared responsibility in that region. It might have created an impossible situation.

It looks to me, therefore, as though we have taken the weak course of sacrificing the word we pledged and, in so doing, have weakened the U.N. and prevented it from becoming an instrument to keep peace in the world.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL