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Weizmann’s Autobiography Shows He Never Offered ‘bribe’ to Ibn Saud

May 20, 1964
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Allegations made by Lt. Col. Harold B. Hoskins, an emissary for the late President Roosevelt, who said the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann allegedly offered a “bribe” to King Saud of Saudi Arabia, were shown here today as completely baseless.

The charge that Dr. Weizmann had offered a “bribe” of 20,000,000 pounds sterling to King Saud for Jewish control of Palestine, was contained in a 1943 memorandum by Col. Hoskins to the late President Roosevelt. The State Department published that memorandum last weekend, among other data, in a volume entitled “Foreign Relations of the United States, Volume IV, the Near East and Africa.” Col. Hoskins had been known for his pro-Arab attitude during World War II.

Dr. Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization–later first President of Israel–dealt with the Hoskins allegations and other relevant issues in his autobiography, “Trial and Error, ” published in 1950. He wrote that he had never made such a bribe offer and that, “in fact, ” a form of such an offer had been made to Dr. Weizmann himself by a representative of Ibn Saud, named St. John Philby.


Tracing the developments of this issue, Dr. Weizmann told of being asked by John Winant, U.S. Ambassador in London, to go to the United States because President Roosevelt wanted Dr. Weizmann to work on the problem of synthetic rubber. By March 1963, Dr. Weizmann was ready to go to the U.S.A. and dropped in at 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister in London, to say farewell to Premier Winston Churchill’s private secretary, John Martin. The latter suggested that Dr. Weizmann see Mr. Churchill for a moment. Dr. Weizmann recalled that Mr. Churchill “wished me luck on my trip to America” and quoted Mr. Churchill as saying:

“I am glad you are going, and I am sure you will find a great deal of work to do there,” Then, without prompting by Dr. Weizmann, Mr. Churchill continued: “I want you to know that I have a plan, which of course can only be carried into effect when the war is over. I would like to see Ibn Saud made lord of the Middle East–the boss of bosses–provided he settles with you. It will be up to you to get the best possible conditions; Of course we shall help you. Keep this confidential, but you might talk it over with Roosevelt when you get to America, There’s nothing he and I cannot do if we set our minds on it.”

The then Zionist leader remarked “that was all” Churchill said at the time, that he was “rather dazed by it, ” and that he would not have taken Churchill’s statement literally except for “a rather extraordinary circumstance which only now became meaningful to me. ” “A few months before, ” Dr, Weizmann wrote, “I had met with St, John Philby, the famous traveler in Arabia and confidant of Ibn Saud, We had talked about Palestine and Arab relations, and he had made a statement which I had noted down but which had seemed incomprehensible to me coming from him.

“He (Philby) had said: ‘I believe that only two requirements, perhaps, are necessary to solve your problem; that Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt should tell Ibn Saud that they wished to see your program carried through; that is number one; number two is that they should support his overlordship of the Arab countries and raise a loan for him to enable him to develop his territories. ‘ I now,” added Dr. Weizmann, “fitted together St. John Philby’s ‘offer’ and Mr. Churchill’s ‘plan.'”


“I have told in another part of this chapter how St. John Philby, the confidential agent of Ibn Saud, brought us an ‘offer’ which seemed to coincide with the ‘plan’ which Mr. Churchill put so hastily before me a few hours before my departure for America.

“In America I met a Colonel Hoskins, of the Eastern division of the State Department, whom I understood to be the President’s personal representative in the Middle East, Col. Hoskins was not friendly to our cause; on the other hand, he was not as hostile as his colleagues of the Eastern division; in face he was in comparison rather reasonable. In his opinion, something could be done in Palestine if the Jews would, as he called it, ‘moderate their demands.’ He spoke of bringing half a million Jews into Palestine in the course of the next 20 years, quite a ‘concession’ for one who was opposed to Zionism.”

Further, Dr. Weizmann continued in his autobiography:

“Colonel Hoskins left for the Middle East and, when I saw him on his return, his tone was very different. He said he had visited Ibn Saud, who had spoken of me in the angriest and most contemptuous manner, asserting that I had tried to bribe him with 20,000,000 pounds to sell out Palestine to the Jews. I was quite staggered by this interpretation put on a proposal which I had never made, but a form of which had in fact been made to me by Ibn Saud’s representative–St. John Philby.

“Colonel Hoskins reported further that Ibn Saud would never again permit Mr. Philby to cross the frontiers of his kingdom. Sometime later I told St. John Philby of Col. Hoskin’s report. Philby dismissed it as ‘bloody nonsense.’ The truth was that the relations between Philby and Ibn Saud had never been better, and these relations, I might add, remain unchanged at the time of writing.”

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