|The senators and their wives visit the Temple Mount (1936)|
April 1936 was the start of a vicious anti-Semitic and violent "Arab Revolt" in Palestine that would last through 1939. The murderous attacks against Jews, Jewish communities and Jewish property were widespread throughout Palestine. British government offices, banks and railroads were also attacked.
Coming so soon after the 1929 massacres of Jews in Palestine and under the looming shadow of the Nazi threat, the attacks against Palestine's Jews alarmed friends of the Zionist movement. The British Mandate's policies were viewed as biased against the Jews. Rumors of a British threat to suspend Jewish immigration to Palestine were particularly worrisome.
|The senators visiting an empty Western Wall (1936)|
Hull instructed the ambassador to assure the British prime minister that he was only reporting on the concern of "influential Jewish circles in the U.S." and "not speaking on behalf" of the U.S. Government.
With such attitudes prevalant in Washington and London, it was little wonder that friends of the Jewish community and the Zionist movement would react. Newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst organized and financed a mission of three senators -- Dr. Royal Copeland of New York, Warren Austin of Vermont, and Daniel Hasting from Delaware -- to visit Palestine in August 1936 to "investigate the Palestine situation." [Note: the visit took place several years before the Holocaust and 12 years before Israel's founding.]
On August 11, 1936 Senator Copeland introduced a Senate resolution protesting British policies. The JTA reported:
Condemning British proposals to partition Palestine as "outrageous," Senator Royal S. Copeland (Dem., NY) introduced in the Senate today a resolution asking the Senate's "forthright indication of unwillingness to accept modification in the mandate without Senate consent."
Senator Copeland declared that the territory allotted the Jews in the proposed partition was insufficient to maintain even a small number of Jews and that establishment of a small Jewish state might result in a war between the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews are having a "terrible time" in Germany, Poland and Rumania.... At the same time he noted a "distinct animosity" on the part of American consuls abroad in granting visas to Jews, which, he said, showed discrimination.On August 22, the American consul general in Jerusalem cabled his Secretary of State to report, " A local committee of five representative Americans (leading Zionists) has been formed to meet the [Senate] party on arrival and has planned propaganda visits to Jewish colonies before proceeding [to] Jerusalem... [The] junket is designed to appeal to pro-Jewish propaganda.... The [British] Chief Secretary of the Palestine Government takes position on grounds of safety alone that the party cannot be permitted to tour country. With this I fully concur, particularly in view of present recrudescence of terrorism and especially as Zionists are sponsoring tour."
|Senators visiting Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus amphitheater|
On March 19, Amb. Austin announced to the UN Security Council that the United States no longer viewed the partition plan as viable. Truman wrote two days later, "The striped pants conspirators in the State Department had completely balled up the Palestine situation." The White House reversed the position taken by State Department Arabists, and Truman supported the formation of the Jewish state.
Hat tip: Y. Medad