WASHINGTON (Feb. 20)
The importance of Palestine in the defense of the Suez Canal was emphasized in political circles here today in connection with the expected Nazi drive toward the Suez from Libya and a possible German thrust into Turkey.
The ebb and flow of war in the Libyan desert, according to information reaching here, indicates that if the Germans can achieve superiority in air and mechanized land units for an appreciable period of time, they may be able to seriously threaten the British naval base at Alexandria and the Suez Canal. In that case, it is emphasized here, the role of Palestine will become even more important than hitherto since the Allied forces would be thrown back on Palestine which guards the Suez Canal. Information received in Washington leads many here to believe that it is not impossible that the Germans may attempt a sea and air attack against Egypt in conjunction with renewed pressure from Libya.
Anticipating that the decisive battle which will change the map of the world and alter the boundaries of nations will be fought in the Near East, some quarters in Washington advance the opinion that the United Nations must under all circumstances secure the full-hearted support of the local population there. The Jews in Palestine must be permitted to arm and the Arabs must be won over to the British side, they urge.
Reports reaching Washington state that Nazi propaganda among the Arabs in Palestine and Syria is increasing daily, reaching the remotest Arab settlements. This propaganda is being conducted not only through broadcasts in Arabic from Axis radio stations but also through whispering campaigns conducted by pro-Axis Arabs in public places and through the spreading of leaflets by Axis agents working apparently under smuggled instructions from the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem who is now in Hitler’s employ.
(The New York Times today in a cable from its correspondent in Syria reports that serious German offensives are awaited in the Near East, the armed forces of the United Nations are poorly equipped and they hope for more aircraft, tanks and munitions from England and the United States.)