158. Evian Conference
 
William E. W. Gowen in his letter of December  4 raised the subject of the Evian Conference of 1938 which was convened at the initiative of President Roosevelt "to develop practical assistance to Jews fleeing ‘legalized' persecution in Nazi Germany and fascist Italy". Roosevelt, who knew little about Zionism and Arab nationalism, and Myron Taylor, the US representative to the conference, wanted the Jewish emigration to be chiefly to Palestine.

Mr. Gowen is attributing the failure of the Conference to the fact that the British, the French and the US State Department agreed to exclude the subject of Jewish immigration to Palestine from the Conference's agenda. Mr. Gowen seems to assume that the only way to save the Jews from persecution was to open the gates of Palestine to them. If the aim was really to help the "Jews fleeing ‘legalized' persecution" all the 31 countries represented at the Conference should have opened their gates. The United States agreed to allow only 30,000 Jewish immigrants a year, which was the legal quota for Germans. Great Britain
took approximately the same number.

Insisting on sending the Jews to Palestine was playing politics with the life of the Jewish refugees and this is exactly what the Zionist leaders were doing. They did not want Jewish settlements outside Palestine to be successful. They were the first to be happy with the failure of the Evian Conference. They did not care if their policy entailed suffering for their co-religionists and, on that count, they were morally wrong.

December 18, 1997