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Aide-Mémoire Given By Weizmann to Truman on Urgent Israeli Needs

(May 25, 1948)

Israeli President Chaim Weizmann left this aide-mémoire with President Truman during their meeting at the White House on May 25, 1948.

Subject: Israel’s two basic problems.

  1. Israel is now wrestling with two basic problems: first, national survival in the face of Arab aggression supported by the British; second, the resettlement and rehabilitation of the homeless DP’s.
  2. There is little hope that the Arabs will accept the cease fire order without crippling limitations. The British still feel that they can divide American opinion and render American policy irresolute; the Arabs still rely on guidance and assistance by the British. Only action can bring peace to the Middle East, and the most effective action with the British and Arabs is a modification of the arms embargo established by the United States.
  3. Military aid is thus the first basic problem which confronts the new State. It requires especially anti-tank weapons; anti-aircraft weapons; planes; and heavy artillery. By American standards the needed quantities are extremely limited but in the context of the [Page 1043]current activity in Israel they may well be decisive. Above all speed in the provision of such arms is urgently necessary. Would it be possible to make limited quantities of these weapons available from depots or other store places in the Middle East?
  4. The second basic problem confronting Israel arises from the desperate situation of the Jewish DP’s. Israel plans to empty the camps at the rate of 15,000 persons per month. To transport, equip, house, and rehabilitate these impoverished people requires expenditures which by Israel’s standards are enormous, and which must be made at a time when Israel is engaged in a struggle for national survival.
  5. Israel is now applying to the Export-Import Bank for a loan. It was thought that funds could be obtained more speedily in this way rather than by requesting at this time a gift or a grant. Israel can and will satisfy the necessary banking requirements. An indication from you, Mr. President, that you are sympathetic to our application would make certain that speedy action, so urgently required, will be forthcoming.

Source: Foreign Relations Of The United States, 1948, The Near East, South Asia, And Africa, Volume V, Part 2, Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, (Washington: DC, Government Printing Office, 1976).