My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—Unless the leadership in the United Nations takes a firm stand with Egypt's President Gamal Abdel Nasser very soon, I think we are going to be in real trouble, for the hope of a peaceful settlement of difficulties in the Middle East lies in the ability to keep the existing peace.

A return of Egyptian rule in the Gaza Strip would mean, without question, a return to the raids that fomented so much trouble and eventually led to Israel's attack in this area.

Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Gulf of Aqaba area was predicated on the belief that all nations would live up to their promises under the U.N. Charter and would permit the U.N. to take over where it seemed necessary to preserve peace in an area.

If Nasser now refuses to cooperate, then the failure of a peaceful settlement lies squarely on the shoulders of the government of Egypt. In spite of the fact that the Asian powers want to support the Arab countries, I think they will find it more difficult to do so if this attitude is maintained.

Major General E.L.M. Burns, United Nations commander in the Middle East, feels that the mob violence in the Gaza area is organized on Communist lines and has so reported. This is not surprising and it is the way we must expect the Soviets will operate in that area. Unfortunately, the Eisenhower doctrine will not help us defeat this kind of activity.

When I left New York Monday morning by air for Minneapolis, I was happy to read in the newspapers that the U.N. force in the Gaza area had been able to handle some rioting Arabs by the use of tear gas and firing of shots into the air. This seemed to prove that these U.N. troops were good soldiers and able to handle a difficult situation.

On arrival in Minneapolis, I was taken immediately to a luncheon with the press where I was handed a wire dispatch reporting that Cairo had appointed an Egyptian administrator for the Gaza Strip and was demanding a return to Egyptian rule in that area. This shows how flexible the Middle East situation is and that peace is far from an accomplished fact.

On arrival in Canberra, Australia, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said, "We can confidently conclude...that international Communism now imposed on many of the peoples of Asia is a passing and not a permanent phase."

This seems to me to be a little over-optimistic.

The Secretary proceeded to underline the importance of the military program in the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization governments. However, I wonder if the program of economic aid to those countries, coordinated or channeled through the U.N., would not have far more beneficial results.

I am doubtful that all the military aid we provide would make it possible for any single nation in the Near East or Far East to stand up for five minutes against a real Soviet attack.

Preliminary to the determination that makes people fight for their country and their way of life is their economic betterment, giving them a glimpse of accomplishment that makes life worth living.


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Minneapolis (Minn., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 14, 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.