The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I have watched the newspapers every day with the hope of seeing some explanation of the Administration's strange attitude in the Near East.

If we made arrangements for an airfield in Saudi Arabia, was it not strange that we also did not make arrangements for one in Israel? If in payment we provide arms to Saudi Arabia, why should we not do the same for Israel?

We said we were completely neutral, that we wished to keep the peace in the Near East. But surely it is not neutral to have an airfield in an Arab country and not one in Israel, for an American airfield provides a certain amount of security. The risk of attacking a country is greater when this tangible protection is evident.

Our vacillations in policy—holding the military tanks scheduled for shipment to Saudi Arabia and then reversing ourselves and saying it was an agreement we had to carry out—seems to indicate little coordination among the departments in Washington.

The secrecy surrounding these shipments of arms also seems to indicate the Administration's uncertainty as to the reaction of the American people and perhaps a desire not to offend the Jewish community in this country.

One cannot help but feel sorry for those in power—caught between the oil interests, which are among the most generous contributors to campaign funds, and the country's Jewish vote, which also is important.

Texas, of course, is one of the areas Republicans woo most assiduously. Positions in foreign affairs, however, should not be taken because of any political pressures at home. But the fact remains that, in this whole situation, political pressures seem to have had some influence.

I anxiously await our government's realization that this whole Near East problem is not just an Arab-Israeli dispute but a problem of the influence of the West as opposed to that of the Soviet. We want no wars, but we do not want a Sovietized world. We would like to have people develop their own forms of government, make changes in their mode of life without dominance by outside influence and pressure.

We would like to see the people move forward to a better economic status for the betterment of the whole world. We would like to see the Soviet Union develop in its own way in its own areas. We would like to see it allow freedom to the rest of the world, to develop as they wish.

But the Soviets, wherever they can, exert influence. They do this not only by persuasion but frequently through gaining control in many ways. This is a menace to those of us who wish to live in a free world.

Israel is the one place in the Near East where we can be sure that life is being made worth living and where freedom will be fought for. Therefore, it should be of special interest to the United States. For if, in the long run, Israel remains free, the whole Near East may remain free. At the same time, our oil interests will be better protected in free Arab countries that are developing themselves than in Arab countries under Soviet domination.


(Copyright, 1956, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, February 24, 1956

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.