FDR Envoy Slaps Down Top Zionist

Patrick J. Hurley Meets David Ben-Gurion

Born in 1883 in Choctaw Indian territory to an Irish immigrant father and an Irish-American mother in what would later become the state of Oklahoma, Patrick J. Hurley became the National Attorney for the Choctaw Nation at the age of 28, representing its interests forcefully and successfully in Washington.  His career was interrupted by service as an artilleryman in the Army in World War I.  Returning to private law practice and Republican politics in Oklahoma, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of War by President Herbert Hoover.  He was chosen by Hoover to be the new Secretary of War when the incumbent Secretary, James W. Good, died in November of 1929.

He was replaced when the Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was elected in 1932 and, once again, he returned to private practice.  When the United States entered World War II, his services were called upon once again when FDR made him a Brigadier General in the Army and used him as his personal representative on some of the most sensitive missions of the war.  In 1943, that was to the Middle East, where he demonstrated a consistent opposition to imperialism, regardless of its origins.

Here, we take up the account from General Hurley's biographer, Don Lohbeck:

In each of the countries that he visited, Hurley practiced the same formula for collecting "information and background material."  First, he would obtain whatever books were available on the political, military and economic history of the country he was in; then he would listen to what the officials and diplomats would say.  With this background, he would then begin his own investigation—listening to the tourist guides describe the sights and monuments valued by the people, visiting the police stations for an insight into the social problems, inspecting the hospitals, schools and other public institutions to discover the advances being made by the country, and talking to private citizens at the shrines and temples, in their homes, and on the street.  He tried to place himself in a position where he could view the existing situation from the point of view of the native citizen—the more he saw and heard, the more depressing was his picture of conditions in the Middle East.

Though the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union were allied in a world-wide war for the professed purpose of guaranteeing the territorial integrity of all nations and the right of all peoples to self-government, the peoples of the Middle East were being crushed in the Anglo-Soviet struggle for imperialist control over their countries; while the United States was supplying and equipping the armies of the Allied nations, and American soldiers were dying in North Africa in the fight to repel the Axis invaders, the peoples of the Near East were being beaten down by the bitter rivalry between Britain and France for imperialistic supremacy in North Africa, Egypt, and the Levant.

Now, in addition to the Communist imperialism of the Soviet Union and the colonial imperialism of the British and French, a third imperialist manifestation—Zionism—had come to bring its impositions on the Middle Eastern peoples.

Leaving Cairo on March 31, General Hurley flew to Tel Aviv—and on the 2nd of April to Jerusalem, where he met with David Ben-Gurion, the Zionist leader.

As a result of the Turkish Treaty, Great Britain had been given control of Palestine in 1920; there were approximately 50,000 Jews in Palestine at the time.  By 1933, there were 175,000 Jews in the little state—and at the time of Hurley's arrival the Jewish population of Palestine had risen to 500,000, and some one and one-half million Arabs.

The Zionist program, Ben-Gurion said, called for: bringing another one and one-half million Jews, mostly from Central Europe, into Palestine; freeing the country from British control; and establishing an autonomous Jewish state.  The Zionists were basing their claim to the territory of Palestine on a number of reasons: (1) their interpretation of Biblical references to Palestine as the homeland of the Jews; (2) on the historic grounds that their ancestors had occupied the land until 1300 years previously; (3) the Balfour Declaration, in which the British (in 1917) had stated that they "favored the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jews" (but with the proviso that the rights of the Arab inhabitants not be infringed upon), and (4) the fact that the Jews of the world had many millions of dollars invested in Palestine.  ("He particularly emphasized this last point as a reason why the United States should support the Zionist program," Hurley wrote to President Roosevelt.)

As to the Zionists' claim to Palestine for historic reasons, Hurley replied to Ben-Gurion that "if the Jewish claim was to be honored on historic grounds, then all the territory of the Roman Empire should be returned to Fascist Italy."  And on the matter of Biblical justification, Hurley reported to Roosevelt that "I told Mr. Ben-Gurion very plainly that America could not be bound in foreign policy by Jewish interpretation of Old Testament verses."

Ben-Gurion, in speaking of the Balfour Declaration, said that the United States, also, supported the establishment of a Jewish homeland.  "I also reminded him," Hurley reported, "that the Joint Resolution, to which the Zionists were referring with such confidence, favored the establishment of a national home for the Jews only insofar as it would not trespass upon the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine.  I said that the plans of the Zionists, if successful in over-populating Palestine with two million Jews, would mean that at least one million Arabs would have to be transported beyond the frontiers of Palestine to begin life all over and that I did not consider the United States Government pledged to enforce any such decree."

While throughout the world Zionism was represented as a religious movement "based on humanitarian concern for a persecuted people," within Palestine it was a terrorist organization using tribute, coercion and assassination as its weapons.  Foreign businesses, including American, operating in Palestine were forced to contribute monthly payments to the Zionist organization's treasury for permission to remain in business unmolested and un-boycotted.  And when Hurley refused to publicly endorse the Zionist movement during his stay in Jerusalem, the personal representative of the United States was threatened with kidnapping and assassination.  Ben-Gurion, nominal head of the Zionist movement in Palestine, admitted that he was not sure of his ability to control the terrorist Zionist groups. (Emphasis added – ed.)  - Patrick J. Hurley (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1956), pp. 191-193.

The reader should be reminded that these observations were made and events took place before the assassinations of Lord Moyne and Count Folke Bernadotte, the attempted assassination of Ernest Bevin, the bombing of the King David Hotel, and the slaughter of the residents of the village of Deir Yassin.

David Martin

October 31, 2006

See also "The Zionist Mentality and Method."


This comment of a reader is pertinent (Particularly recommended is the speech by Benjamin Freedman on YouTube.):  “Love the analogy of the Zionist claim resembling a call to hand over the territory of the ancient Roman Empire to fascist Italy! It reminded me of a similar analogy made by Benjamin Freedman in a speech at the Willard Hotel where he talked about the Zionist claim being akin to allowing the right of millions of Chinese Uyghur Muslims to Saudi Arabia!”

David Martin

February 11, 2012




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