State Dept. Opposition to Anti-zionist Intrigues in U.S. Revealed
Menu JTA Search

State Dept. Opposition to Anti-zionist Intrigues in U.S. Revealed

Download PDF for this date

A chapter of the political activity of American Zionists is reflected in a volume of diplomatic papers relating to U.S. foreign policy in 1941. It was released here today by the Department of State.

About 30 pages are devoted to Palestine, a considerable part of which deal either directly or indirectly with the activities of American Zionists on behalf of what was then called a “Jewish National Home.” The volume is one of a series, entitled “Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers.”

It transpires from memoranda on conversations of State Department officials with British and Turkish diplomats in Washington that these two embassies professed to be greatly alarmed by the formation of the American-Palestine Committee–made up of Senators, Congressmen, Cabinet members and other prominent Americans–and asked State Department officials to explain to members of the committee “the dangers inherent in such an organization.” The British were particularly alarmed by arrangements for a dinner at which Dr. Chaim Weizmann was scheduled to speak.

Lord Halifax, the British Ambassador, called upon Secretary of State Cordell Hull regarding the “pro-Jewish activities” and was told that it would be difficult to deal with this matter. The U.S. Minister in Cairo, Alexander C. Kirk, went as far as stating in a cable to the Secretary of State that “the maintenance of present concepts in respect to Zionism constitutes a major obstacle to the successful prosecution of the war.” He urged a U.S. declaration which would mitigate the state of animosity prevailing among Moslems.

The U.S. Government declined to follow the advice of the Minister. Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles explained in his answer that “well-informed Arabs are quite aware that the Zionists play a far more important part in American politics than do Arab sympathizers; thus the Arabs themselves would value an American declaration of this character as a mere self-convenience statement.” Mr. Welles noted that “American Zionists do not grant that the movement is a handicap to the British war effort in the Near East, but hold it to be a source of strength if the British will but use it.”

Another of Mr. Kirk’s prophecies did not come true either. He wrote that the project of a national Jewish home in Palestine “has not only failed in the past, but is incapable of realization in the future.” This should be made clear to American Zionists., he urged the State Department. Replying to this, the Acting Secretary emphasized that Zionists in this country do not admit and could not be brought to admit the validity of this theory.


An exchange of letters between Rabbi Stephen Wise and Sumner Welles, as well as related memoranda, highlight the efforts to prevent British commitments or negotiations involving a legal and political change of the status of Palestine before the end of the war. The U.S. Government was asked to elicit from the British Government authentic information as well as assurances to this effect. Dr. Emanuel Neumann also was instrumental in this effort, made on behalf of the Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs.

It is evident from the diplomatic papers that the U.S. Government was aware of the danger to Jews in Palestine, should the Axis units advance further. It made some provisions for transportation of U.S. citizens who would want to leave Palestine, and planned to approach King Ibn Saud, of Saudi Arabia, to make him exert his influence upon his co-religionists to refrain from blood-shed. In another area where Jews were in jeopardy–in the French zone of Morocco–the U.S. Government could find no legal basis for a protest against discrimination, although the American Jewish Committee had suggested that it do so.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency is also mentioned in the diplomatic papers. The Secretary of State, Mr. Hull, inquired from his Ambassador in London about a JTA dispatch regarding certain statements by Prime Minister Winston Churchill; about a visit by Moshe Shertok (now Sharett) to Cairo; and about alleged private talks between Arab leaders in Cairo. The requested information from the Ambassador bore out the JTA’s dispatch on Churchill’s statements and on Mr. Shertok’s visit. The volume does not contain all diplomatic papers of that period. Documents which might prejudice relations with foreign countries are still classified.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund