OCTOBER 25, 1948
PARIS, Sunday—I was amused to find that the appearance in certain papers back home of a picture showing our Secretary of State and myself at a government reception where we had been served champagne in order to drink the health and prosperity of the United States and France has created among my W.C.T.U. friends the feeling that I was giving a bad example to the youth of the United States. I want to assure them that it would be much worse if one refused to follow traditional customs in foreign countries and made a scene about sipping a glass of champagne.
Sometimes I think we are very provincial in the United States. In all the time I have been in Paris I have not seen a single drunken person on the street. I think this is because the French are a wine-drinking people and not given to strong alcoholic beverages.
But even if you have consideration for the customs of a country, it need not mean that you have to drink much wine. I want to assure my W.C.T.U. friends that if their children never took more wine or more strong liquor than I do they will be entirely safe from overindulgence. There is nothing I dislike more than lack of self-control, but I also think that should extend to being able to control oneself even when having consideration for the customs and habits of other people. Friendliness may be expressed in a number of ways, and not to be able to drink a toast to your own country or to another country in the way that meets the customs of any people would seem to me to be an admission of weakness and lack of good manners.
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The other afternoon in Committee Three we heard a statement through the acting mediator in Palestine, Ralph Bunche, and Sir Rafael Gilento on the plight of the Arab refugees. The British are anxious to move this particular point in the refugee problem up for consideration as soon as possible because the need is very urgent.
Sir Rafael told us that just before he left Palestine to come to the meeting of the United Nations he was handed a paper stating that ten more children in one small group had died the night before. Winter is now threatening and many of these people are without warm blankets or shelter of any kind except what the olive trees afford. Some are in areas 3000 feet up, where rain and snow even add to their discomfort.
The Arab states find themselves unable to meet their need for food, and not only hunger and exposure is their fate but disease is beginning to take its toll. The figures have been revised upward and some 500,000 refugees are now thought to be out in the open without resources of any kind. From a humanitarian point of view these human beings, who are the victims of a situation rather than its creators, are deserving of help, and the help should come very rapidly if the rest of the world is not to be responsible for the death of many helpless human beings.