JUNE 12, 1951
HYDE PARK, Monday—On Saturday my son, James, and I drove down to former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau's farm for lunch. While there I bought from him one of the State of Israel bonds, which I was glad to do.
During an interview on television a little over a week ago I was asked whether I thought our government should make a grant to Israel. I did not know at the time that a bill had been introduced in Congress to obtain a government loan and I felt, therefore, that I could only emphasize the importance to the whole Near East of resettling the Arab refugees as quickly as possible. Any large group of refugees is a dangerous and unsettling element in any part of the world, and it seems to me that for the sake of peace in this area the United Nations and the individual governments interested should do all they possibly can to bring about a settlement. Loans have already been asked of us by other states in that area, and when there is a prospect of really doing something of value to the country I am always glad to see our government willing to help. Therefore, I will be glad if we aid Israel.
It is important that Israel should reach a sound economic condition as soon as possible. Israel has accepted a burden of immigration that has emptied many of the refugee camps of Europe. This has lowered the cost to the United Nations of their operations for refugees in Europe. In addition, people have come to Israel from many other lands where they feared persecution or were living under undesirable conditions.
It will require outside aid to start these people on a new life. A democratic and prosperous Israel can vastly strengthen the position of the whole Near East. This part of the world needs help from the U.N. and from all the nations that are able to do a little more than they are now doing even through joint effort. Perhaps before long a friendlier feeling can be brought about and a unified plan can be made for the benefit of the whole Middle East area.
It is quite evident that power projects should be undertaken with the interests of more than one nation in mind, and it is quite certain that reforestation, irrigation and farming in the desert area would benefit Arab states as well as Israel.
The Arab people pride themselves on their statesmanship and their ability to be far-sighted. For that reason I hope they will soon begin to think not just of the wrongs of the past, but of the possibilities of improvements in the future. Instead of being the tinder box, which everybody watches with anxiety, it might well be that in this area of the world from which spiritual leadership has so often come in the past, we might see a demonstration of the will to cooperate. Such action would lift the spirit of the world.