Thursday, December 08, 2011

Irene Gendzier: Why the US recognised Israel
... Developments on the ground in Palestine, however, could not be ignored. On May 3, eleven days before Britain’s departure from Palestine, the US Consul in Jerusalem reported on the collapse of Palestinian government with the warning that “unless strong Arab reinforcements arrive, we expect Jews overrun most of city upon withdrawal British force.” [1] The same officer reported in April on the steady advances of Jewish forces in “aggressive and irresponsible operations such as Deir Yassin massacre and Jaffa,” as well as what occurred in Haifa in the same period. The US Consul reported that British and others agreed in early May 1948 that “Jews will be able sweep all before them unless regular Arab armies come to rescue. With Haifa as example of Haganah military occupation, possible their operations will restore order.” [2] What kind of order? Haifa was known to the British, Iraqis and Americans chiefly through its oil refinery that processed Iraqi oil through IPC pipelines. Its takeover was unacceptable to the Iraqis and led to the destruction of the existing network of relations between Palestinian and Jewish workers.

Shortly thereafter, Robert McClintock, then with the US delegation at the UN, speculated that the Security Council would soon be confronted by the question as to “whether Jewish armed attack on Arab communities in Palestine is legitimate or whether it constitutes such a threat to international peace and security as to call for coercive measures by the Security Council.” [3] It was again McClintock who observed that if Arab armies entered Palestine leading Jewish forces to claim “that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside Palestine which is the cause of Arab counter-attack,” the US would be obliged to intervene.[4]

Finally, some ten days before Britain’s departure, US Secretary of State, George C Marshall provided select diplomatic offices with his assessment of the condition of Arab regimes. He had few illusions as to which would survive.
Whole govt structure Iraq is endangered by political and economic disorders and Iraq Govt can not at this moment afford to send more than handful of troops it has already dispatched. Egypt has suffered recently from strikes and disorders. Its army has insufficient equipment because of its refusal of Brit aid, and what it has is needed for police duty at home. Syria has neither arms nor army worthy of name and has not been able to organize one since French left three years ago. Lebanon has no real army while Saudi Arabia has small army which is barely sufficient to keep tribes in order. Jealousies between Saudi Arabia and Syrians on one hand and Hashemite govts of Transjordan and Iraq, prevent Arabs from making even best of existing forces. [5]
Marshall’s remarks about Egypt were corrected by the US Ambassador who pointed out that Egypt’s ill equipped army was the result of British refusal to provide the Egyptians with viable equipment. The Transjordan military, as Marshall pointed out, was similarly dependent on British officers. Despite such conditions, Marshall warned that “this does not mean however that over long period Jewish State can survive as self-sufficient entity in face of hostility of Arab world.” And as he emphatically concluded, “If Jews follow counsel of their extremists who favor contemptuous policy toward Arabs, any Jewish State to be set up will be able survive only with continuous assistance from abroad.”

Furthermore, before and especially after Israel’s declaration of independence, US officials denounced the treatment of Palestinian refugees and called for their repatriation, an issue that was endorsed by the US President who had earlier taken the initiative in calling on the British, then still in Palestine, to permit the admission of 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine

[1] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, p.889.
[2] May 3, 1948, The Consul General at Jerusalem (Wasson) to the Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, V, part 2,p.889.
[3] May 4, 1948, Draft Memorandum, FRUS 1948, V, part 2, pp.894-895.
[4] Ibid. p.895.
[5] May 13, 1948, The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices, FRUS, 1948, V, part 2, pp.983-984.
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