MAY 29, 1948
NEW YORK, Friday—As far as I can see, the new British proposal for a four-week truce in Palestine, with a ban on men and arms to both sides, just puts off again the day of decision. I cannot see why the facts are not as clear today as they will be four weeks from now. The Arabs, during those four weeks, could go ahead making preparations for invasion, whereas the Jews would be able to do little, so that they would be in a worse situation at the end of four weeks and the Arabs would be in a better one. And the rights and the wrongs of the case will be just where they are today.
* * *
There is one thing in the news which is encouraging. The chance for us to be helpful in taking in a small number of displaced persons has moved one step forward. It isn't assured as yet, but it looks as though strength is increasing on the side of those who want to allow 200,000 displaced persons to enter this country in the course of the next few years.
These people would, of course, be chosen by the International Refugee Organization on a percentage basis. There are so many refugees who are highly trained professionally, or are skilled workers or experienced farmers, that we should have no difficulty in settling them in places where their abilities and skills are really needed. Having advanced one step, I hope we will advance another one shortly.
* * *
The defeat of Field Marshal Jan Smuts in the national elections in South Africa is a blow to liberalism in that country. The old Field Marshal has forced the world to recognize his strong character and his great desire to advance, slowly but surely, the liberal development of South Africa.
According to the news, he has accepted philosophically the loss of his seat in Parliament—and that is the way with most of us as we grow older. We say with greater ease that "what will be will be." One can only hope, however, that what looks like a rather terrifying victory for the reactionaries—some of whom are labelled followers of a Nazi type of thought—will serve to awaken the liberal forces in time to keep South Africa a progressive country.
All over the world, I am sure, people will send messages of regret to Marshal Smuts, expressing their gratitude for the long service he has rendered to his country and to the world.