In April 1948, one month before Israel declared independence, Robert Kennedy traveled to Palestine to report for the Boston Post on the conflict prior to the British deaparture. His dispatches were published in June 1948.
The die has long since been cast; the fight will take place. The Jews with their backs to the sea, fighting for their very homes, with 101 percent morale, will accept no compromise. On the other hand, the Arabs say:
"We shall bring Moslem brigades from Pakistan, we shall lead a religious crusade for all loyal followers of Mohammed, we shall crush forever the invader. Whether it takes three months, three years, or 30, we will carry on the fight. Palestine will be Arab. We shall accept no compromise."
The United Nations is scoffed at by both sides and the United States will never be able to regain the position of ascendancy she previously enjoyed with the Arab world. She lost the love of the Arabs when she supported partition. She lost their respect when she reversed that decision [in March 1948]. She lost it irreparably. For days on end Arab commentators drummed into their people that finally the power of the Arab world had been realized.
The Jews are bitter in disappointment. As one Jew said, "Britain let us down for 25 years but you bettered them in a week." The feeling stops at disappointment and there is none of the hatred that exists for the British. They can understand us not wishing to send troops and so become entangled in a war that does not immediately concern us, but they plead only for the right to make this fight themselves. They want arms and frankly admit that if they cannot get them from us they will turn to the East. "What else can we do?" They are fighting for their very lives and must act accordingly.
Won't Accept Communism
That the people might accept communism or that communism could exist in Palestine is fantastically absurd. Communism thrives on static discontent as sin thrives on idleness. With the type of issues and people involved, that state of affairs is nonexistent. I am as certain of that as of my name.
When I was in Tel Aviv, a group of refugees was landed and amongst them the Jewish Agency's "FBI" immediately picked up one of these agents. He was loaded down with money and papers, and all agreed that he must have been sent with the intention that he be captured to mislead the security forces into thinking that all the Russian agents would be as inept as this one and equally easy to capture. Lethargy would set in and it would be then that they would smuggle in their Mata Hari.
Communism demands allegiance to the mother country, Russia, and it is impossible to believe that people would undergo such untold sufferings to replace one tyrant with another. Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot, on trial for his life before a British tribunal stated the principle. When accused of attempting to bring French forces into Ireland to help wrest it from the British, he said why would he, who loved and had been fighting for his homeland, deem it to his country's interests to replace a known tyrant by an unknown one. These people want a homeland of their own. That to them is the sole issue.
Vehemence and hatred between the Jews and Arabs increase daily. But in many cases Jews and Arabs work side by side in the fields and orange groves outside of Tel Aviv. Perhaps these Jews and Arabs are making a greater contribution to the future peace in Palestine than are those who carry guns on both sides.
The Arabs in command believe that eventually victory must be theirs. It is against all law and nature that this Jewish state should exist. They trace expectantly its long boundary and promise that if it does become a reality it will never have as neighbors anything but hostile countries, which will continue the fight militarily and economically until victory is achieved.
The Jews on the other hand believe that in a few more years, if a Jewish state is formed, it will be the only stabilizing factor remaining in the Near and Middle East. The Arab world is made up of many disgruntled factions which would have been at each other's throats long ago if it had not been for the common war against Zionism. The United States and Great Britain before too long a time might well be looking to a Jewish state to preserve a toehold in that part of the world.
Both sides still hate the British far more deeply than they hate one another. There was a British high commissioner who when attending the opera used to have his car parked directly in front of the main door, a place usually reserved for discharging passengers. An even more unpopular practice was the regulation that at the end of the opera everyone had to remain in their seats until the British high commissioner was out of the opera house and in his car.
But the British have left - and now the issue is to be resolved in a bitter war between Jew and Arab. I do not think the freedom-loving nations of the world can stand by and see "the sweet water of the River Jordan stained red with the blood of Jews and Arabs." The United States through the United Nations must take the lead in bringing about peace in the Holy Land.
Sources: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Boston Post (June 6, 1948)