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

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NEW YORK—I was surprised to read in the papers the other day that the U.N. had made a request that Israel withdraw from the Gaza strip immediately, without any assurances from Egypt or from the U.N. that there would be protection and no further raids.

Since Israel's military action was originally taken in self-defense, it cannot be said that at any point she committed aggression. I think some kind of agreement on the part of Egypt should be forthcoming before such hard-earned gains as were made are completely given up. Israel has always wanted peace. From the very beginning she has been willing to sit down and discuss with the Arab states how their difficulties can be best resolved. It is the Arab states which have never been willing to recognize the existence of Israel and to behave in a manner that would bring about peace and understanding in the area.

I understand from reliable sources that it is not only the U.N. which is making demands on Israel, but also the United States. I understand that the U.S. is politely but firmly using economic sanctions not only against Great Britain and France, but is doing much the same with Israel. Now, these are our friends, and I find it difficult to understand just why we should make life so difficult for them at a time when they have acknowledged their faults in not first going to the U.N. We have proved we are not on the side of colonization, but we still have to face the fact that fundamentally we usually agree with the standards held by France and Great Britain and Israel more nearly than we do with any other group of nations in the world. We cannot blindly say that every thing they do is right, but, taken as a whole, we find ourselves in their corner when the chips are down. Would it not be perhaps better to forget the mistakes of our allies?

Building up the dictator of Egypt, I fear, will not add very much permanently to our strength. Nor is any of our new popularity going to help us greatly in our efforts to curtail the growth of Soviet power in the Asiatic and Near Eastern areas of the world. The best we can do is to keep the strength we have acquired through solidarity in Western Europe and build it up as well as possible. We will need joint strength in the United Nations to bring about peaceful solutions in the Near East, and we must accept the fact that we have a real interest in the one nation in the Near East that understands democracy.

Just as France and England may be wrong, Israel too may be wrong at times. But Israel is the one nation in the Near East which has a concept of what building a democracy means, and it is in our interest to help all the nations of the Near East to gain this concept and to understand its values. An example of how democracy works will have value for the whole Near East once they accept Israel as a nation and part of their own group. This is the only real way that the spread of Communism can be stopped in the Near Eastern area of the world.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New York (N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 7, 1957

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.