UN Partition PlanFar Reaching Effects of U. S. Policy on Palestine Analyzed in Light of Revised Stand

To the New York Herald Tribune-

The announcement by Senator Austin on March 19 that the United States government would no longer support a policy of the partition of Palestine is an important one. It raises in the minds of many American citizens again the basic question whether this new decision not to support the Palestine partition is sound and in the best interests of the American people. Admittedly, the question is complicated and one on which sincere individuals may differ.

As I have just returned from eight weeks’ travel through all Middle East countries, I can summarize, for the benefit of those studying this issue, the effects of the partition policy as I found them in that area.

Instead of a brief and ineffectual opposition by Arabs to partition, as was predicted by Zionists, there is in Palestine today a full-scale civil war. Thus far more than 1,700 individuals have been killed since the United Nations vote of Nov. 29, 1947, with no prospect ahead except increasing bloodshed. The heaviest fighting is not expected to break out in its most violent form until after the withdrawal of British troops, which has already begun but which, under present schedule, will not be completed until July 31, 1948.

Every visitor to the Middle East can certify to the increased antagonism to the United States on the part of the Arab people, both Moslem and Christian, living in the seven states which compose the Arab League. They have been holding at least some of their fire in the hope that the United States government would recognize its error and not aid in implementing partition. However, had the United States taken further active measures to furnish this aid, all American activities in the Middle East would have been seriously affected or completely closed down. This would have applied to American educational, missionary and cultural activities, to a continued refusal to approve pending oil pipe line agreements and to the cancellation of existing oil concessions.

In the opinion of many leaders in the Middle East, the United States, by its vote for Palestine partition, has already undermined its own efforts to prevent the spread of Communist control beyond its present frontiers. It seems very clear to people, especially in Turkey, that in supporting partition we opened a back door for Communist infiltration through Palestine into the Arab world at the very time when we were spending millions of dollars to close the front doors through Turkey and Greece, and to a lesser degree through Iran. All countries bordering on Russia have been seriously shaken in their confidence in the continuity of any American support or in the consistency of any American policies or promises.

It has been reported on high authority, which I can confirm, that the value of the United States loan to Turkey was perhaps halved overnight by America’s United Nations vote last November to partition Palestine. The Turks hold no brief for the Arabs of Palestine, but the American vote on this issue indicated to Turkish minds either incomprehensible inconsistency or a foolishly naive ignorance of Russian intentions.

It is generally known that the acrimonious attacks by our United Nations delegates on the British and their Palestine policy, since it differed from ours, did not help to keep close and friendly relations with Great Britain. Since, to many of us, Angle-American co-operation is absolutely essential to the maintenance of world peace, these continued attacks are most unfortunate.

Many Americans, including some of our highest government officials, who accepted the Zionist thesis that the Arabs would readily agree to partition, did not realize that the implementing of partition was certain to stop the flow of Middle East oil, which is counted on to supply at least 50 percent of the Marshall plan petroleum requirements of Western Europe. This fact, in turn, furnishes the clue to the real reason for Russian support of partition. It was Russia’s expectation that in so voting she was increasing chaos in the Middle East and thus striking a most effective blow at E. R. P., which Russia is more anxious to see fail.

Had the United States actively aided in implementing partition, American economic, industrial, cultural and religious activities in the Middle East would have suffered. The killing of American troops used to establish and maintain a Jewish state in Palestine would have been most likely to lead to an increase of anti-Semitism in this country. Many American citizens of Jewish descent, who are not Zionists, are still most fearful that the establishment of a Zionist state will make all American Jews suspect of a divided loyalty. Certainly this policy of partition, which consciously increased racial and religious antagonisms in the United States, to that extent weakened a domestic unity which Americans as a whole have struggled for generations to build up.

After the terrible destruction of millions of Jews in Europe during the war, the endangering of the lives of an additional 300,000 Jews, now living as minorities in Arab lands, may not have appeared serious. It should, however, be clear that the implementing of partition would most likely have resulted in the destruction of these Jewish minorities. Nor is it fair to construe such a statement, as has previously been done, as an invitation by anti-Zionist Americans to the Arabs of the Middle East to murder this additional number of Jews.

Had the partition vote in the United Nations been freely and fairly given, the claim that the Arab states should how to world opinion might have had a sounder basis. However, the right of any group of nations to insist on delivering over a portion of one country to some one else, against the will of the majority of the inhabitants of that territory, might still be questioned. Perhaps Americans would understand Arab feelings better if they could visualize their own reaction to a United Nations decision to hand over two-thirds of Long Island to an alien group.

There is also the danger that this civil war in Palestine can, like a forest fire once started, spread to neighboring countries, and thus furnish the spark that will set off a general conflagration – in other words, a cataclysmic third world war.

Many of us believed, and so stated in advance of the partition vote, that this policy was being adopted through error and misinformation. We have, therefore, been relieved at the revision which has now been made. At the same time we must clearly recognize that the policy not to support partition is only a negative one. We still have the difficult task ahead of working out a positive solution that is clear, workable and one to which the American people will be willing to give their active support. By its switches in policy the American government has increased its moral responsibility for assisting positively in the implementation of whatever solution for Palestine is finally agreed upon.

HAROLD B. HOSKINS, President, Board of Trustees, American University of Beirut.

New York, March 23, 1948.