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State Department Requests Funds For Palestinian Refugees

(Undated c. September 1949)

In a memo from Undersecretary of State Lovett to President Truman, the Arabist position is laid out in quotes from the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasizing “the critical strategic importance of the Near East area and the necessity, from a military standpoint, of maintaining the Arab world oriented toward the United States and the United Kingdom.” From the beginning of U.S. relations with Arab countries to the present day, there has been a fear of losing access to Middle East oil and the Soviet Union and now Russia gaining a foothold if American policy is not sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. This memo highlights the belief that if the United States provides funds to help Palestinian refugees, it will strengthen ties with the Arabs. It is also noteworthy that the memo refers to 300,000 refugees, far less than the 800,000 to 1,000,000 Palestinians would later claim.