Partition in Washington: An Inquiry
The Factors Guiding Our Government's Policy
During the war and after, Hal Lehrman’s dispatches from many capitals of the world earned him his reputation as one of this country’s most informed and reliable political correspondents. When the continued uncertainty as to our government’s attitude to the implementation of the Palestine partition plan made this perhaps the top news story of today, we asked Mr. Lehrman to go to first-hand sources in Washington, as well as in Lake Success and New York, and gather and set down what seemed to him the chief factors in the minds of our nation’s policy-makers as they struggled toward some decision.
Conflict over Kashmir filled the Security Council’s agenda in the second week of February, but the corridors buzzed with Palestine. Upstairs, in a remote wing of the made—over Sperry plant at Lake Success, the “five lonely pilgrims” of the Palestine Commission were writing and rewriting the case for an international police to halt the rampaging Arabs—and wondering if their labors would achieve much beyond literary exercise. For added private confusion their chairman, Karel Lisicky of Czechoslovakia, was turning red and pink over Cairo reports that the Arab League aimed to buy more anti-partition arms from—of all places—Czechoslovakia. James Reston of the New York Times was floating an authoritative trial balloon for a bi-partisan policy that would take Zionism out of American politics, and Joseph Alsop of the Herald Tribune was calling down maledictions on the President for having succumbed to pro-partition pressure without thought of the awful consequences.
A harassed Mr. Truman was now, according to alternate “well-informed” rumor, telling Democratic Boss Ed Flynn that the United States would back partition all the way and telling an unidentified but distinguished pro-Zionist visitor that bad advice in favor of partition had put the President of the United States in a most disastrous personal position. Nobody knew for certain whether Palestine policy, supposed to be made in the White House, would continue to be made there, or where to go in search of it.
Stepping gingerly around reporters’ traps for a clue to American intentions, Secretary of State Marshall was nervously assuring his press conference that the United States had supported, and would go on supporting, the “procedure” of the United Nations-whatever that meant. Defense Secretary Forrestal was denying any campaign to withdraw this country’s endorsement from partition, but continued to spread calamitous warnings around the Hill that this country remained mortally dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Senators and Congressmen were preferring not to think about the prospect of having to legislate American soldiers into troopships bound for Palestine. In his rooms at the new House Office Building, New York’s Sol Bloom was debating whether to frame or bum the telegram from the President of Liberia promising him that Liberia’s delegate to the General Assembly was going to vote “yes” on partition. And in the inner sanctum of the State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs division, a top executive of Aramco (Arabian-American Oil Company), newly returned from an inspection tour, was reporting in detail on desert storms in Araby.
It was in that mid-February week of befuddlement that this writer went down to Washington to find out what he could about basic American interests in the Middle East, including and extending beyond the patch of ground called Palestine.
By the time these findings appear in print, we should presumably have less reason to peer into a crystal ball for the official American attitude toward implementation of partition. American activity—or inactivity—in the Security Council would by then have indicated how far Washington was prepared to satisfy the Palestine Commission’s demand for tools to do the job assigned by the General Assembly’s recommendation of sovereign Jewish and Arab states. Therefore, I spent no time trying to beguile my sources into unveiling the immediate future. Instead, I looked for the long-range view—for the fundamental American purposes in the Middle East, for a bed-rock definition of our national interests by which this country’s day-to-day moves at Lake Success might be clarified and explained.
What follows below is constructed from the off-the-record opinions of key officials, civil and military, the educated guesses of correspondents, the private thoughts of oil men, the opinions of Zionists, pro-Zionists, non-Zionists, and anti-Zionists, and the “scuttlebutt” all around in the Washington air. In exchange for the guarantee of anonymity, responsible men spoke perhaps more freely than is their custom. I am aware that some may have spoken with less than earnest objectivity.
If so, their assertions, as I report them here, will be correspondingly vulnerable to the critical reader. On the whole, I think the following represents fairly the views of those professional quarters in Washington primarily concerned with the Palestine issue not as domestic politics but as part of an American policy for the Middle East and the World—a policy which in their opinion may require placing discretion above valor.
What are the United States’ strategic interests in the Middle East? Are any of these interests involved in the Palestine dispute?
Strategically (according to my informants) we have a crucial need for the area as a potential base for military operations and as a fuel reservoir. Therefore we need to retain Arab friendship for ourselves (and for our British ally), and keep the Russians out.
All these requirements may be adversely affected by the Palestine dispute.
It is axiomatic that military planning rejects sentiment. General staffs cannot make room on their charts for intangibles like justice, morality, or loyalty to previous commitments. Only the strategic implications of the Palestine question count (so runs the argument).
If war breaks out in the foreseeable future, it will be fought over greater bombing distances than before. We shall be able to operate farther away from the target. The Middle East is one vast landing field. It is also an essential supply, troop, and naval depot for decisive action against the Eurasian land mass.
The United States consumes more oil than the rest of the globe combined. To date we have produced about 64 per cent of the world’s output. This has drained our reserves severely. Our ultimate resources are estimated at only 7 per cent of world potential. But the Arabian fields alone have at least 30 per cent, and probably much more.
This wealth is available for Anglo-American use to the extent that engineering skill can reach it. By the end of 1948, two pipelines already in operation and one now being built will be pumping better than a quarter-million barrels of crude oil from Kirkuk to the Mediterranean each day. By 1952 this output will be reinforced—if there are no political obstructions—by a Trans-Arabian pipeline (TAPline) from Abqaiq, a Middle East pipeline from Kuwait and Abadan, plus several lines still in the paper stage, making a grand total of close to two million barrels delivered daily to the Levantine coast.
Should this network of pipelines, for any reason whatever, fail to function or even to come into existence, the oil would have to go painfully by tanker down the Persian Gulf, around the Arabian Peninsula, and up the Red Sea—a round-trip distance nearly seven times as long as the pipeline route and immeasurably slower.
The pipelines will be the indispensable lifeline for American industrial and mobile strength in war. They are also vital in peace to the effective operation of the European Recovery Program, henceforth a basic element in United States foreign policy.
Western Europe’s oil requirements can be met from Western Hemisphere exports only by decreasing our own military potential. If the giant Arabian resources are safely harnessed, Near Eastern oil alone can supply Europe’s needs—and the oil now crossing the Atlantic from Venezuela and Colombia can be diverted to the United States.
Thus, from the purely military point of view, anything which might impede the flow of oil—such as Arab animosity or any turbulence spreading out from Palestine-is dangerous to our national interests.
It would be especially unfortunate for the Palestine trouble to come to a head at a time when we are involved in helping the European democracies struggle for survival. Not only the Marshall Plan but the Truman Doctrine would be jeopardized. Give the Russians an excuse to lay down supply routes in a new area, and they spread themselves over the map. (Note the heavy concentrations in Rumania and Hungary for the ostensible guarding of supply routes to Austria.) A Soviet contingent in Palestine would offer the Kremlin’s strategists a fine opportunity to build up new and heavily guarded “supply-lines.” They might even expect to be allowed garrisons in Greece and Turkey. The one safe way to avoid such distressing eventualities is to rule out the presence of Russians in Palestine altogether.
But, military circles admit, the end of the mandate terminates British military control of Palestine and creates a “power vacuum” which must somehow be filled. Who is to fill it is a conundrum for State Department and White House to solve. When diplomatic enigmas are on the table, the generals retire.
What are the United States’ political interests in the Middle East? How can these interests be best advanced in the Palestine dispute?
Our political interests (the thesis continues) are to maintain our strategic interests and our position of leadership in the economic and cultural development of the Arab world. These interests can best be advanced by bolstering British prestige among the Arabs so far as is consonant with our own aims, cementing Arab friendship for ourselves, and preserving peace in the Middle East by finding a Palestine solution equally acceptable to Jews and Arabs.
Peace in the Middle East is a prime necessity of American policy. Not merely peace between the peoples of Palestine, but also peace between Palestine and its neighbors, and peace among the Big Powers. On all these counts, it is contended, partition injures the American interest. Partition has already split Arab and Jew in Palestine; it has inflamed the Arab states; it threatens to bring in the Red Army.
No peace is possible in the Middle East when a Palestine “solution” satisfies only one side. A golden chance for peace was lost when the recommendations of the Anglo-American Inquiry were rejected in 1946. This commission had urged, along with 100,000 immigration certificates for Palestine, a search under the mandate and a UN trusteeship for a settlement which would grant the fullest measure of self-government without making either the Arabs or Jews dominant and without restricting the liberties of any group. The British would have been happy to accept this, because they were tired of American backseat driving and would have agreed to any arrangement by which we gave them moral support and shared the responsibility. The State Department recommended the plan to the White House. But the Zionists persuaded President Truman to come out only for the 100,000 certificates. The plan was killed.
Then came the Grady-Morrison project. This also was on the right track, Washington circles contend, because it correctly calculated that independence in Palestine could be achieved only through gradualism: begin with limited autonomy under federalism, get the Jews and Arabs used to working together, and let them move step by step toward separate statehood if they still desire it. But the Jewish Agency, under pressure from its extremists, vetoed this too. The weary British then left the whole problem on the UN’s doorstep.
The State Department had long foreseen that the Arabs would violently resist partition. The Department had clearly said so. For its pains, the Department was branded as anti-Jewish in Zionist propaganda. Its advice was outweighed by pro-partition planks in the Democratic and Republican platforms and by pro-partition resolutions in Congress. After having refused, because of Zionist insistence, to share the responsibility for plans which might have worked, the United States, again because of Zionist pressure, finally committed itself in the UN to partition—the one plan which had no hope of succeeding at all.
Partition has set off an extreme Arab reaction. Moderate Arab leaders, pro-American in education and outlook, are in danger of being swept away if they seek to restrain the passionate anti-partition feelings of their peoples. The power of the rabid nationalists has lately been demonstrated afresh in Iraq, where they were able to overthrow an entrenched government for signing the best treaty Iraq had ever been offered by the British. Even the absolute monarch Ibn Saud, who has succeeded hitherto in distinguishing between oil and politics, is not so absolute that he will be able forever to ignore his councillors and his people.
If an international force goes into Palestine, the Arab states are likely to denounce it—and fight it—as a violation of the Charter. This means war. If UN troops do not enter, and the Palestine Arabs are worsted by the Jews, the Arab states will go to the rescue anyway, and we will then have to intervene, which again means war. Or, if the Arab states refrain and the Palestinian Arabs alone overcome the Jews, we will also have to intervene, because it would be unthinkable to permit the massacre of the Jews. In any case, therefore, partition confronts us with the imperative of armed force-a disaster for the American policy of peace in the Middle East.
But isn’t the UN also a vital interest of the United States? And haven’t British obstructions and American non-support (such as our arms embargo) hamstrung partition?
The United States certainly has a vital interest in the UN. But both Britain and the United States, I was told, have acted in a manner consistent with their obligations as Middle East powers and as members of the UN.
The British clearly warned the General Assembly, before partition, that they could not cooperate in enforcing any settlement unless they considered it fair and unless it was accepted by Jews and Arabs. The British abstained from voting. They did not consider partition fair, and the Arabs did not accept it. Therefore the policy of the British since partition has been to maintain as much order as possible without implementing a decision they do not approve, and to prepare their own ultimate withdrawal with a minimum of damage to their relations with the Arabs.
That is why, according to my informants, the British declined to surrender the mandate piecemeal. A free port for the Jews would have reduced British jurisdiction and increased Arab-Jewish clashes. Legal arming of Haganah would have divided the police authority and openly favored the Jews. Premature arrival of the Palestine Commission would have set off an Arab uprising, complicated the British security problem, and further alienated the Arabs.
Britain’s sale of arms to the Arab states stemmed from prior treaty commitments, not from a desire to frustrate the UN. On the other hand, it is contended, Britain has loyally endeavored to block smuggling of Arab arms into Palestine, has repulsed Arab raiders, and has repressed internal disorders from whatever source. If the British have failed to tranquillize Palestine, it is because the Arab reaction to partition—as they predicted and we should have known—was uncontrollable by any means short of war.
As for the United States, we had agreed previously to ship arms for equipping the constabularies of certain Arab states. Our embargo actually cut these shipments off. Its intention was not to leave the Jews defenseless but simply to curtail the supply of arms available for violence.
Palestine could not have been exempted from the embargo zone. This would have directly flouted the Arabs, whom it is not in our national interest to flout. Nor could we refuse to sell arms to Arabs outside Palestine and connive with the Jews to frustrate the British embargo inside Palestine.
Right or wrong, Britain was the mandatory power, responsible for the maintenance of order. Unless we were prepared to go in and take over that responsibility, we had to allow Britain to keep the peace in her own way, embargo and all.
Similarly, it would have been grossly improper for us to dictate to the UN. Washington has been criticized for failing to set a fast pace in implementing partition. But there was nothing we could legitimately do until the Palestine Commission, as authorized by the Assembly, had begun its work and made its report. What about the Charter, which gives the UN only narrowly limited powers and sets precise restrictions on what its components may and may not do? Should we have imposed our own views in advance? Is the UN to be merely a puppet of American policy, or is it to have a policy of its own, as a union of free and equal members?1
What, then, should be the United States’ attitude toward partition, in the light of our strategic and political interests in the Middle East?
As a good member of the UN, we should accept any decision emerging from the Security Council or any other competent body. But our efforts to shape that decision should concentrate on a formula which will contribute to pacification in the Middle East by being acceptable to both sides in Palestine.
It is highly unlikely that an international force containing American and Soviet contingents would contribute anything to peace in the Middle East. Such divided forces would perform at least as badly together as the occupation armies in Austria and Germany. Would each power patrol a separate area in Jewish Palestine? Then a Solomon would be needed to obtain uniformity of treatment for each area. Would the contingents be fused into a single organization? Then the operation would be submerged in a welter of procedural details, language troubles, and varying “neutralities.” We found in Vienna that it was a triumph to get just four MP’s of different nationality to work amicably in one international police jeep. And three years of close experience with Russian occupations in Europe tell us it will be much easier to get Soviet troops into Palestine than out. They would certainly not want the situation to improve enough to justify their departure. So, my informants feared, there they would sit, at the end of the pipelines, stirring up trouble, playing one side off against another, never letting go.
Moreover, the President has no clear authority to attach an American contingent to such an international force in Palestine. The UN Participation Act passed by Congress in 1945 empowered him only to “negotiate” with the Security Council for an all-purpose international security force. No such force exists. The President would have to go to Congress for clearance of a special force for Palestine. Congress would probably refuse. At best, it would never act quickly enough to enable the force to reach Palestine in time to prevent the large-scale attack the Arabs are planning when the British leave on May 15.
These Congressional inhibitions would not apply to a volunteer force. But how would these volunteers be selected under the UN to keep out Soviet elements? And how could they be equipped, trained, and transported before May 15?
It has been suggested that a force be made up entirely of the smaller UN members, omitting both the United States and Russia. A possible compromise, worth trying—I was told—if there is no other way out of partition. But the smaller states might well say: “Why ask us to do a job which, under the Charter, the big powers are required to do?” And would the Arabs show much respect for lilliputs when they seem ready to challenge giants?
The fatal flaw in any brand of security force is that it is an attempt to impose a settlement from without when obviously no alien settlement can stick unless both sides within are agreed. This, in fact, has been the error of all efforts thus far to find a solution. Why not, it is suggested, try a different line now? Instead of trying to settle the argument by outsiders, why not let Arabs and Jews try to agree among themselves?
Admittedly, present tempers are too high for conciliation, because of the hatreds evoked by the partition plan. So let there be a cooling-off period. Let there be a moratorium on partition. Let the UN establish a trusteeship to govern the whole of Palestine during the interim. Let the trusteeship be implemented by an international force which would replace the British merely to keep order until the more moderate Arabs and Jews worked out their own salvation.
Such an international force would not be resisted by the Arabs, because it would be entirely divorced from partition. And such a force would not be embarrassed by a Soviet contingent. The trusteeship would be held by the “Allied and Associated Powers” to whom the Ottoman Middle East fell after World War I. Today this means the United States, Britain, and France—but not Russia. While the Security Council marked time, the British-as holders of the mandate from the UN’s predecessor, the League-could draft a proposal for the Trusteeship Council. True, the Soviet Union holds a seat on this Trusteeship Council. But decisions there go by simple majority—and the veto does not operate. . . .
I do not wish to place undue emphasis on this trusteeship idea-which many would regard as merely a stratagem to get the United States out of a tight hole and gain time. By now, or before this article will have run its span for the month of March, Lake Success may have elaborated an altogether different device. I cite the trusteeship project here only to show the beginnings of a scheme in the minds of men confronted with a first-class dilemma in foreign policy and searching unhappily for some avenue of escape—if the President and Secretary Marshall would let them take it.
It will have been noted that the concept of national interests as sketched above has been set down with austere objectivity, in order to report a specific point of view accurately. One can anticipate that this concept will be regarded by the Jewish Agency (and by others, including many non-Zionists) as assailable along all flanks, even on its own terms of priority consideration for the national welfare of the United States. For example, it could be resonantly argued:
That appeasement of the Arabs cannot advance our national interests, since the Arabs—like Hitler and Stalin—are not appeasable;
That the United States, holding all the keys to power in the Middle East, does not need to appease the Arabs;
That unappeased Jewish extremists in Palestine are much more dangerous to our national interests than unappeased Arabs;
And that the United States and the UN alike will suffer irretrievable moral loss unless this government halts its Arab apologetics and takes the lead in resolute fulfillment of a partition agreement to which both the United States and the UN are deeply committed.
Washington’s pro-Arab school, it might be said, is copying the dismal “Arab Treaty” policy of the Foreign Office. The British for generations have been signing pacts and pouring money and benefits into the Arab territories with the understanding that the Arabs thus favored would stand by Britain in time of need. Well, when the need came, the Iranians and the Iraqi paid off by revolting squarely in Britain’s face. In 1942 I was in Cairo when Rommel camped some miles away outside Alexandria—and Britain’s loyal Egyptians were exhibiting plain delight at the promise of a new overlord. I was again in Cairo in 1945 watching the British, wise as the Bourbons, happily suckle the Arab League—and today (as Jon Kimche suggests elsewhere in this magazine) the British are already regretting they did not smother the baby instead. One need only remember the Mufti of Jerusalem to conclude that the Arabs save their credit for the strong, not for the sentimental. If the United States backs away from partition, this country might gain a temporary flurry of gratitude but a permanent loss of face.
We need the oil, but Islam needs the dollars. Half of Iraq’s revenue flows from oil; Egypt’s treasury is bolstered by royalties from 40,000 barrels daily; Saudi Arabia would be given back to the nomads if American cash ceased paying better than ninety per cent of the desert kingdom’s budget. Main hope of Syria and the Lebanon for escape from bankruptcy is the millions of dollars’ worth of Levantine pounds which Aramco will buy annually to pay for TAPline’s right-of-way, policing, local personnel, and supplies. Anti-partitionist Arabs taking vengeance on the pipelines would first have to dodge the vengeance of the Arab potentates themselves.
There is already considerable evidence, it I is pointed out, that the enforcement of partition will involve little risk of stirring Arab hearts deeply enough to touch their purses. In Egypt even now the native press is futilely belaboring the government’s failure to punish the “Western capitalists” for the crime of partition. Not one piaster and not one soldier has gone from Ibn Saud’s realm to help the “Arab People’s Army.” When his workers planned a sympathy strike for their Palestine brethren, the old fox forbade it, advising them instead to donate the wages they would save by not striking. (There were no donations.) Despite the fulminations in Beirut and Damascus, plus a bit of arson and some breakage of American windows, oil men are confident that ratification of the TAPline treaties will be railroaded through the Syrian and Lebanese parliaments on the first quiet day.
But would the Jews be as accommodating? Even when Palestine Jewry was shaking in the first ecstasy of thankfulness to the UN, the dark Revisionists stayed morose and belligerent. No satisfaction for them, this miserable little morsel of a Jewish “state,” with its surrealist frontiers impossible to defend, like a house with Arabs in the kitchen and Jews in the parlor. What we need now, an Irgun major told me, is not a boundary but enough immigrants and guns.
“Then we’ll be ready to carve out a real Palestine—both halves of partition and Transjordan as well—by the only method the Arabs (and the world) respect: force.”
If public opinion in Britain today demands an end to the disastrous occupation of Palestine, it is in no small part due to the effectiveness of Jewish terrorists with landmine, grenade, pistol, and rope against unfortunate young men wearing the King’s colors.
“The terrorists defeated us,” British officers admit. “We couldn’t track them down. The Jewish population was too frightened of them to help us.” Well, suppose the UN reneges on partition. Might not the outraged Jewish community turn to support of the terrorists, no longer because of fear but out of desperate conviction? How long would more moderate voices in the Agency prevail? How safe would the pipelines be against terrorist wreckers? What hope would there be then for that peace and tranquillity which seem so desirable to American interests?
No, many good Americans will say that our strongest line in Arabia can only be fulfillment of our partition pledges. Down with the Arabists of the State Department who argue away the value to us of a Jewish Palestine by denying its existence. Put an end to the amateur diplomacy of a Pentagon cluttered with statistics and supply charts but ignorant of what goes on in the hearts of peoples. (Even Secretary Marshall, upon reading a Palestine plan of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is reported to have roared at its political ineptitudes.) Let us reject the barren legalism that contends we must not lead the UN by the nose: on the contrary, the smaller states resented our silence after partition as a sign of our letting them down. Let us make up our minds that the Arabs can be “conciliated” only by a show of power. Forty thousand well-equipped men of the Haganah will speedily acquaint them with the realities of disciplined battle. And if there has to be an international force, let there be one, because a beginning must be made somewhere if the UN is ever to grow teeth and not go down gibbering like the Geneva League.
So run the contentions of many who know the Middle East in their own intimate way and have had a bellyful of procrastination. They want justice for the Jews, for a UN whose future is being made or broken over the windy tables of Lake Success, justice even for a United States in danger of sacrificing its moral leadership abroad and its liberal support at home if it shows itself no less power-hungry than the Soviet Union. One has to confess that this kind of argument brings a lump of exaltation to the throat.
Yet this writer, who has tried to remain impartial here at the risk of chafing his feet on a tight wire, is compelled to note that there are some grave uncertainties which call for careful second-thinking if we are to put emotion aside and examine partition entirely in a hardheaded “political” way. Whether these uncertainties in the partitionist case constitute a “reasonable doubt” strong enough to dictate another line of action is a matter which each man will have to resolve for himself.
To begin with, did American support of partition in the Assembly irrevocably commit this country and the UN to all-out implementation to the extent of war against the Arab world?
It is true that certain highly-placed Americans, in their zeal for partition, went so far as “arm-twisting” to obtain the favorable votes of various minor UN members. It is true the Arabs gave us plenty of notice they would fight to the death. And it is true that British encouragement and American timidity built up the Arab strength.
Still, Zionist spokesmen did assure the UN that the Jews could manage the Arabs if only partition were voted. The United States, in supporting partition, did tell the Assembly that we expected the Charter would be observed. It now appears possible that Palestine’s 600,000 Jews are weaker and the Middle East’s 40,000,000 Arabs stronger than advertised. Should the United States plunge ahead nevertheless? Should the UN, dedicated to maintaining peace rather than provoking war, also plunge ahead? Would reconsideration of partition really be a catastrophic blow to the UN, or might it not instead show the UN’s sobriety in re-examining a “hasty” decision?
As for the Arab feudalists, they are hardly likely to turn their faces to the Kremlin in quest of a new Mecca, or sever the oil pipes which pour the lifeblood into their rickety regimes. But can we be sure the Arabs are bluffing?
I have heard it archly suggested that the last time the West thought the Arabs were bluffing, the Crusades proved the Arabs were not. And if there is a reasonable doubt, are we justified in risking access to oil, incursion of the Russians, opening of a Soviet backdoor to Greece and Turkey, crippling of ERP—jeopardizing, in short, of our entire defense against Moscow’s special brand of the one world?
It is troublingly significant that, west of the Hudson during the fateful months after partition, the American grassroots seemed apathetic to the heroic spectacle of beleaguered Palestine Jewry. Washington kept silent except for a few Congressmen—most of them with Jewish constituents. I inspected big batches of pro-partition telegrams to the White House but found only one in about every fifty where the sender’s name sounded possibly non-Jewish. Senator Brewster is reported once to have said he would not venture the life of a single American boy to defend the oil companies’ property in Arabia. Would American mothers think only righteous thoughts if their boys died in the Palestine sands “in defense of the Jews”? If partition embroils us with the Arabs and gives the Soviets a foothold, might the reaction not single out American Jewry as “responsible”? Such considerations are not valiant, but neither are they craven when one reflects that a sound and safe Jewish community here is not only an end in itself but the indispensable reservoir of aid to any thriving Jewish Palestine.
There is, finally, the dreadful question of sheer physical survival in Palestine. Publicly, Haganah has proclaimed its ability to stand its ground, even without UN troops or equipment, after the British leave. Privately, Zionist leaders admit they are living through the present desperate hour on hope rather than confidence. They are compelled to envisage even the prospect of complete annihilation. But is not a course which may lead to mass suicide, to the destruction of everything in Eretz Israel—man, woman, child, treasure, and dream—a course of infinite folly? And who, incidentally, will protect the 8000000000 non-Palestinian Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in the event of a jihad? Must we, out of allegiance to an untested solution, risk the gamble of extermination?
Such are a few of the dilemmas arising a from the crisis of partition. I have tried in this article to accomplish an objective assignment: to set forth, insofar as they were ascertainable, official American motivations in the Middle East and to examine their validity in Palestine, pro and con. The imponderables are too many for anyone to deliver an opinion with the force of certainty. For myself, I am inclined to favor the resolute approach to the Arab challenge, on the grounds that we cannot—neither the Jews, nor the United States, nor the worldwe cannot forever go on temporizing with lawlessness. But I would not urge it as a dogma upon any man to think as I do. The stakes are too large and the consequences of error enormous.
1 The statement of February 24 by Warren R. Austin, American delegate to the Security Council, seemed to follow closely this line of thought, placing strong emphasis on the legalities involved. He proposed that the five permanent members of the Council study the Palestine situation with regard to “possible threats to the international peace.” Should such threats be discovered, and should the Security Council “decide that it is necessary to use armed force to maintain international peace in connection with Palestine,” then the United States is prepared to “consult under the Charter with a view to such action as may be necessary to maintain international peace.” Austin emphasized at the same time that the Charter did not provide for the enforcement of any political settlement, and that the Council could aim only at keeping the international peace and not at enforcing partition.-ED.