My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MONTREAL, Wednesday—I was very much interested the other day in a statement made by the new King of Saudi Arabia to the effect that 10 million Arabs should be sacrificed to get rid of the Israelis . In one way I imagine the people of Israel should be proud of the fact that the Arabs estimate they will need 10 million to be sacrificed in war to subdue a couple of million people.

In another way it seemed to me, as a citizen of the United States believing in the United Nations and in the hope of a peaceful world, that this was a shocking statement. The United Nations' resolution dividing Palestine did not please many of the people immediately interested, but the Israelis have accepted it and gone ahead and built on that tremendous influx of immigration from the Arab states and Europe which include many people who have become a burden on the country. Still, democracy has been preserved and economic and political stabilization are moving forward.

The problems are great in Israel but they are being met and conquered, and since in that area of the world this is one of the strongholds of democratic government it would seem that it was a paramount interest to the countries of the West to support and help it grow.

This in no way means antagonism or unwillingness to help the Arab states to grow, but two of the Arab states, Egypt and Syria, are under a dictatorship. Even though that dictatorship may have been necessary and may be the most benevolent government that can be developed at present, it still means that these states are not democratically governed and may still have political and military upheavals. This group of Arab states has expressed its loss of confidence in the United States and in the West by remaining strictly neutral in the differences between the Soviet Union and the United States. As far as the Korean War is concerned, they have shown in every possible vote their mistrust of the U.N. cause in Korea.

Many people deplore the loss of friendship for the United States in the Arab states and feel it is due to the fact that the U.S. was willing to back the United Nations' proposal for the division of Palestine. Whatever the cause, the results are deplorable and the policies now pursued are far more disturbing than the creation of the government of Israel.

It seems to me a most shocking thing for the head of a government in these days of tension to announce what is tantamount to a verbal declaration of war. For the United States, therefore, to contemplate giving arms to the Arab countries seems to me a highly questionable policy. I am sure we have the most laudable intentions, first of showing that we are willing to help both Israel and the Arab states on an equal basis, next we are undoubtedly hoping that these arms will make the Arab states feel that they can put up some fight if the Soviet Union should decide to attack them.

I can see no reason whatsoever which will prevent the Arabs from using these arms against Israel, if they are so inclined, and once that happens a bitter war will ensue in that area of the world and we will be forced to take a stand which would certainly complicate matters considerably and face us with an increasingly difficult problem.



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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 28, 1954

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.