Roosevelt, Ibn Saud, and American Jews

March 27, 2013

Andrew Bostom h/t Doc’s Talk:

This morning at AT, Professor Emeritus Edward Bernard Glick described his frank 1958 discussion with Eleanor Roosevelt regarding her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s decision not to bomb the railway tracks connecting to the Nazi extermination camps for European Jews. Professor Glick also alludes to prevalent antisemitic attitudes in the State Department, and perhaps President Roosevelt, himself, whom he quotes as having stated to a prominent Jewish Congressman, “The Jews in America should know that they are tolerated here, but not more than that.

Roosevelt’s statement was in fact a crude retrogression from the attitudes expressed by America’s first President, George Washington. Following a visit to Newport, RI in August, 1790, and his warm reception by the local Jewish community, represented in a letter by Moses Seixas, George Washington wrote a moving reply to Touro’s congregation. Our first President rejected the idea of mere “tolerance” of Jews, embracing them as full, equal citizens of the nascent American nation, with complete freedom of conscience, and the guarantee of their personal security. Washington stated,
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. [emphasis added]

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

Roosevelt made another particularly maleficent, if bizarre, statement revealing his visceral antisemitism during the seminal February, 1945 Yalta Conference between the American President, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The President was scheduled to meet with Arabia’s despot King Ibn Saud immediately after the Conference. Alluding to this upcoming meeting with the Arabian despot, Stalin asked Roosevelt what concessions the President might make to Ibn Saud regarding Middle Eastern issues. As per two independent sources of archival documentary evidence (hat tip, Diana West), i.e., the minutes preserved in the Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, and the papers of then Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius (the latter reproduced in the recent M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein analysis, “Stalin’s Secret Agents—The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government,” p. 35),
The President [Roosevelt] replied that there was only one concession he thought he might offer and that was to give him [Ibn Saud] the six million Jews in the United States. [February 10, 1945]

Professor Glick warns, appropriately, about the pitfalls of American Jews’ blindly misguided reverence for Democratic Presidential “saviors,” such as Franklin Roosevelt, or Barack Obama, “whom Jews revered then [Roosevelt] as much as they lionize President Barack Obama now ,” despite their latent (or blatant) antisemitism, and the actions, or inactions, such attitudes may engender.
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(Saudis remember FDR’s broken promise – Baltimore Sun) Roosevelt spelled out this promise in a letter to King Abdel Aziz Ibn Saud on April 5, 1945:
Your Majesty will recall that on previous occasions I communicated to you the attitude of the American Government toward Palestine and made clear our desire that no decision be taken with respect to the basic situation in that country without full consultation with both Arabs and Jews. … [D]uring our recent conversation I assured you that I would take no action, in my capacity as Chief of the Executive Branch of this Government, which might prove hostile to the Arab people.
…when Roosevelt made this promise about Palestine, it never occurred to Ibn Saud that another president could come along and break that promise.???????
But Roosevelt died a week after sending the letter to Ibn Saud.
Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor, came to office suddenly and unexpectedly.
Truman placed the United States forcefully and decisively in support of the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state in 1948. The sentiments of the king of Saudi Arabia were not considered important.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen,” Truman explained to worried Arabists. “But I have to answer to hundreds of thousands of people who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”

(Saudis remember FDR’s broken promise – Baltimore Sun) The meeting took place in February 1945 aboard the USS Quincy, a destroyer, in the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal, where Roosevelt stopped on his way home from the Yalta Conference with Churchill and Stalin.
Ibn Saud was brought to the rendezvous aboard the USS Murphy, a cruiser, along with an extraordinary cargo, though not nearly as strange as it might have been if the king had had his way. Ibn Saud had arrived at the dock with an entourage of about 200 men, plus quite a few women from his harem.
The captain of the Murphy was appalled. He warned the king’s entourage of problems that might arise with women aboard a naval vessel manned by a crew that had been at sea and at war for a long time. The women were left behind. The king brought a retinue of 48, including coffee servers, cooks and six huge Nubians with swords.


Even the Leftist publication The New Republic understands that Obama is not even handed

March 20, 2010

…Proximity talks are a big retreat from reality–not a surprise, but a big retreat nonetheless–when the Palestinians want only to talk with the Americans. And then, the Americans will talk to the Israelis, and back and forth through the American mediator, presumably a tired Mitchell who hasn’t had a fresh idea in years. Now he has allowed the Palestinians to push him back to the idea of indirect negotiations, and, apparently, Obama also does not object–or maybe it was his own fix-it device. This is an old nightmare in the Jewish memory bank. Already, at Versailles, there was no contact between the Zionists and the Arabs and no contact at later conferences at which the question of Palestine was discussed.

The St. James Conference, called the London Round Table and convened by Neville Chamberlain(!), attracted all the leading Zionists and the best-known non-Zionist Jews. Saudi King Ibn Saud’s son, Emir Faisal, was in attendance, as were Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Said (who was butchered on the streets of Baghdad 20 years later) and Jamal Al Husayni, a relative of the notorious grand mufti of Jerusalem. We have a description of what happened in London from the eminent historian Walter Laqueur:

The Arabs refused to sit at one table with the Jews and arrangements were made for them to reach the conference hall in St. James’s Palace by a different entrance. There were, in fact, two separate conferences. Only on two occasions did informal meetings take place between Jewish leaders and the representatives of Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The Palestinian Arabs refused any contact with the Jews.

Eight years later, another conference assembled in London, this time summoned by the British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, who–how can one say this?–simply did not like Jews. The conference, writes Laqueur, “was a repeat performance for those who had been to St. James’s Palace eight years before. There were no new proposals to be discussed, nor, as in 1939, were there any direct meetings before Arabs and Jews.”

The Arabs put their fate in the gods of war, expressing “the view both privately and on occasion in public that historical conflicts are always settled by force of arms and that one might as well have the struggle right away and get it over.” The General Assembly convened in November 1947 and sanctioned the creation of a Jewish state (yes, specifically Jewish state) and an Arab state (not, as it happens, a Palestinian state, since even the concept of a “Palestinian” did not have real life at the time–the “Palestinians” were the Jews). Thus, the Arabs went to war … and were handily defeated. At the various armistice talks, no Arab would sit at a table with an Israeli.

That the president and his team should now take up this old Arab formula for disguising reality demonstrates the poverty of their grasp of the problem at hand. In fact, Obama seems to think that he is the superego of the conflict and that his function is to hand out dicta on how to end it. But he has no dicta for the Palestinians and plenty for the Israelis. The Jewish state has many conditions under which it would be prepared to give more rather than less. Alas, the president can’t bring himself to publicly acknowledge this. The fact is that he does not particularly like Israel. Which is why it is so frightful to have his messenger running between Jerusalem and Ramallah making demands on the Jews.

Martin Peretz is the editor-in-chief of The New Republic.