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Saudi Arabia:
Ibn Saud on Palestine Partition

(October 27, 1937)

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Text of British Foreign Office file 371/20822 E7201/22/31

Submitted to George Rendel, head of the Eastern Department of the Foreign Office.

His Majesty early on turned to the subject obviously close to his heart, namely the Palestine tangle, and for close on an hour and a half delivered himself as follows. He spoke for the most part in low earnest voice as those his words were not intended for his Counsellors sitting and he continually kept placing his hand on my arm as though to emphasize his meaning.

(Here I shall use the King's words as near as possible using the first person plural for the most part).

We are aware O Dickson that you are no longer a Government Official, but as you have held high and honourable post under His Majesty's government for many years, we know also that you are trusted by your Government, and so not only do we make you doubly welcome, but we feel we can open our heart to you, and we are glad that you have been able to visit us in our capital.

We are most anxious that the British Government should send us every eight months or so an experienced officer whom they trust, or equally well an ex-official like yourself, who can listen personally to what we have on our minds, and what troubles our hearts, for times are deeply serious and full of danger these days. We feel that personal contact of such a nature will be far more efficacious, than any amount of letter writing or telegraph representations. The latter though well enough in themselves must nearly always fail to convey the full meaning of our thoughts and anxieties, and if anything will tend rather to breed misunderstanding and misconception than remove same. But such a person, if and when he is sent us must be thoroughly conversant with our language (Arabic) and must understand the wider meaning of our beautiful tongue which is so full of parable and expressive phrase. It is no use sending a man who has to listen to what we have to say through the medium of an interpreter. The person sent should know and understand our Arab psychology, be conversant if possible with our Arabian manners and customs, and above all should be acquainted with our Arab pride and our hopes, and have read something of God's Holy Word, as vouchsafed to us in our Blessed Qur'an.

O Dickson when will your London Government realize that we Arabs by our very nature can be bought body and soul by an act of kindness and vice versa become implacable enemies for all time of those who treat us harshly or deal unjustly with us.

Today we and our subjects are deeply troubled over this Palestine question, and the cause of our disquiet and anxiety is the strange attitude of your British Government, and the still more strange hypnotic influence which the Jews, a race accursed by God according to His Holy Book, and destined to final destruction and eternal damnation hereafter, appear to wield over them and the English people generally.

God's Holy Book (the Qur'an) contains God's own word and divine ordinance, and we commend to His Majesty's government to read and carefully peruse that portion which deals with the Jews and especially what is to be their fate in the end. For God's words are unalterable and must be.

We Arabs believe implicitly in God's revealed word and we know that God is faithful. We care for nothing else in this world but our believe in the One God, His Prophet and our Honour, everything else matters nothing at all, not even death, nor are we afraid of hardship, hunger, lack of this worlds goods etc, etc. and we are quite content to eat camel's meat and dates to the end of our days, provided we hold to the above three things.

Our hatred for the Jews dates from God's condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa (Jesus Christ), and their subsequent rejection later of His chosen Prophet. It is beyond our understanding how your Government, representing the first Christian power in the world today, can wish to assist and reward these very same Jews who maltreated your Isa (Jesus).

We Arabs have been the traditional friends of Great Britain for many years, and I, Bin Sa'ud, in particular have been your Government's firm friend all my life, what madness then is this which is leading on our Government to destroy this friendship of centuries, all for the sake of an accursed and stiffnecked race which has always bitten the hand of everyone who has helped it since the world began.

It were far preferable form every point of view if Great Britain were to make Palestine a British Possession and rule it for the next 100 years, rather than to partition it in the way they propose: such partition cannot possibly solve the difficulty but must only perpetuate it and lead to war and misery. Some people seem to think that I, Bin Sa'ud, have an eye on Palestine myself, and would like to benefit by the disturbed state of affairs existing there, to step in and offer to take it over myself. That certainly would be a solution, but God forbid that this should happen, for I have enough and to spare as it is.

Today I am the 'Imam' or 'Spiritual Leader" as well as the Temporal Ruler of the greater part of Arabia. I also have not a little influence in all the great Muslim countries of the world. I am being placed in the most difficult and most invidious of all positions by the British Government my friends. On the one hand I am being appealed to by means of myriads of letters and telegrams by day and night from all quarters of the Muslim world to step in and save Palestine for the Arabs. I am even urged by my own people of Najd, and all good Muslims in the outer world to break with the English and save Palestine for its people by war. On the other hand I see that it would be utterly futile to break with my old friends the English, for to do so would bring untold woe on the world, and would be to play right into the hands of the Jews, the enemies of Arabia as well as of England.

I definitely shall not wage war against you English and I have told my people this, because I am the only man among them who can see far ahead and I know that by so doing I should lose the one potential ally I know have. For are not Italy, Germany and Turkey (especially the latter) like ravening wolves today seeking whom they may devour. They are all flirting with me at the present moment, but I know they will wish to devour me later. A friendly England will, I believe, always prevent them from accomplishing their ends. Hence, though as a Muslim I have no particular love for any Christian European nation, political interest demands that I keep in with the best of them, that is, England.

The difficulty is my Arabs and the Ikhwan tribes of Najd - Over this Palestine business their senses are only in their eyes, and they cannot see one cubit ahead. They even now blame me for wavering and obeying the orders of the English, and yet your Government should remember that I am the Arabs' religious leader and so am the interpreter of the scriptures. God's word to them cannot be got round.

Verily the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe this O Dickson, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty. What more then can a Muslim want in this hard world, and that is what my people are repeatedly reminding me of? Most assuredly your government is placing me in the same dilemma that they did in 1929-30 which ended in the Ikhwan going out in rebellion against me.

The Jews are of course your enemies as well as ours though they are cleverly making use of you now. Later your Government will see and feel their teeth. For the present they (the Jews) prefer biding their time. Perhaps your Government does not know tha the Jews contemplate as their final aim not only the seizure of all Palestine but the land south of it as far as Medina. Eastward also they hope some day to extend to the Persian Gulf. They cozen certain imperialistic-minded Englishmen with stories of how a strong Jewish and Pro-British State stretching from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf will safeguard England's communications with the East, saying that the Arabs are England's enemies and will always be so. At the same time they play on the minds of the sentimental British masses, by telling them that the Old Testament prophets foretold how they, the Jews, would eventually return to their Promised Land, or again that they, the persecuted and wandering Bani Israel, should not be denied a small place in the world where to lay their weary heads. Now, O Dickson, would the people of Wales like it if you English suddenly gave the Jews their country? But no, it is easier to give away other peoples countries and not so dangerous.

That the Jews of Palestine are even now straining every nerve to cause a permanent split between the English people and the Arabs can be proved to the hilt by the recent murders of officials in Palestine. It is as clear as daylight to me that the Godless Arab gunmen, hired from abroad, who committed those vile deeds were hired and paid for by Jewish money. We state this to be an absolute fact, for did not the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem swear to us in the 'Haram' of Mecca by the Holy Kaaba that he would never resort to any but constitutional methods in opposing the Zionist machinations in Palestine? And I believe him even today.

What we fear so greatly and what Great Britain must not allow to come to pass is the turning of the Arabs of Arabia and neighboring Arab countries into enemies of England. Once this happens then an irreparable crime will have been committed, for, as we said above, the Arabs will never forget an injury, and will bide their opportunity to take revenge for a hundred years if need be. Enemies of England would not be slow to take advantage of this, and an England in difficulties, or engaged elsewhere in war, would then be the signal for the Arabs to act.

The very thought of the above happening is hateful to me Abdul Aziz, yet be assured the Partition in Palestine will bring this about in spire of all your misdirected efforts. And after all I cannot help you forever as I cannot live more than a few years more. I repeat then that the only solution that I can see is for your Government to rule Palestine herself. The Zionists of course will not like this, but their views should not be asked. The Arabs will agree to this solution and those who do not must be made to agree by such people as myself.

The main thing at all costs is to prevent the Jews from having an independent state of their own sliced out of Arab territory with no one to guide their future acts and policy. For from such will come a perpetual struggle with the Arabs living round them. Firstly because the Jews are determined to expand, will intrigue from the very beginning, and not rest until they have created discord between Great Britain and us Arabs, out of which they will hope to benefit. Secondly, they, having the money, will create a highly effective though perhaps small mechanized Army and Air Force, which they will assuredly use one day for aggressive purposes against the Arabs, seeing that their aim is the whole of Palestine, Trans-jordan and their old stronghold Medina -- the land they went to when driven out of Palestine and dispersed after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.

On top of this your Government must at once restrict further immigration of Jews into Palestine leaving alone all those already there but allowing no more to come in.'

I here took advantage of a pause in the King's rather forcible harangue to try and explain His Majesty's Government's point of view on the lines suggested by Rendel when I saw him recently in London. But before I had gone very far the King in vigorous fashion checked and rather overwhelmed me with the words, 'By God, your Government has no point of view, except the willful committing of an injustice. Every God-fearing man be he Muslim or Christian knows that it cannot be right to do a wrong, however cleverly the committing may be served up to the people. If I, an ignorant Badawin Arab of Arabia can see, as clearly as I see the sun rise, that the proposed partition of Palestine is wicked and wrong in God's sight, surely the more clever Western politicians, if they fear God at all, can see this also. Thank God I believe in God and his Oneness, and I know that it is this very belief of mine that makes me see things as clearly as I do. I am firmly convinced that I am right, and that God has opened my eyes to the right, as I believe that God will punish me if I lie to him. Therefore there is no other side to this question except bargaining with Satan.

Sources: MidEast Web

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