Gilroy filed his original copy but before it was actually published in New York he left a copy of his story with the Foreign office which in turn passed it onto Sharett. The upshot was the Gilroy soon received a hurried request to hold up the story until some changes were made. These changes were apparently trivial in character as will be noted in the enclosure. Then Gilroy received a call from the Foreign Office requesting that the section on Cabinet meetings be eliminated. A few hours later a request from the Foreign office suggested that the story be “killed” and this was quickly followed by the request that it be run with the suggested changes. And still a few hours later there was a final request from the Foreign Office that the story be “killed”. This was done and the New York Times did not publish it.
These details show a surprising amount of indecision. Also, they are significant in that they reveal, it is believed, an instinctive feeling by Sharett from the beginning that perhaps his courage in granting such an interview and permitting his favorable remarks about Egypt to be published, despite the unhappy BAT GALIM situation and the highly volatile “Cairo Spy Trials” situation[,] was a bit unwise. His willingness to go ahead with the interview showed clearly that he was relying implicitly on advance advice he had received to the effect that the Jewish spies in Cairo would not be hung. But in this connection he may also have been swayed by the hope that his favorable words might produce lighter sentences for the spies if the commutation of the death sentences did not develop according to expectations. His courage could also be interpreted to mean that despite recent setbacks in the field of international relations and the renewal of border troubles, he felt his position within the Government was stronger than it was generally presumed to be. However, his vacillating actions and editorial interests were most revealing perhaps in the field of personal character. He showed indecision to a greater degree than had been expected and his text excisions suggest a surprising attention to phraseology and minor points rather than to the major issues and statements involved.
Subsequent developments have completely justified his judgment in withdrawing his statements. The hanging of the spies has further weakened his position politically. Had the story been published as planned, the timing as well as the content of the story would have given considerable dramatic ammunition to his “activist” foes within and without the Government. There would have been a consequent deterioration in his leadership in promoting the policy of moderation in foreign affairs.
Gilroy’s story [- - -] should [- - -] be of interest as well as value to those concerned with evaluating Sharett the man as well as his position and his strength within the Government. It should, it is felt, offer some support (yet not completely conclusive) to the theory that Sharett is in fact a disciple of moderation although long within the shadow of Ben-Gurion and other strong activists.
Article by Harry Gilroy
New York Times CorrespondentSharett’s excisions are
Sharett’s additions are underlined
Prime Minister Moshe Sharett of Israel credits the ruling junta of Egypt with “honesty, patriotism and idealism, though often misguided.”
This appraisal of the leaders of a country that considers itself still technically at war with Israel was uttered today in a private talk. The government which Mr Sharett heads was accepted by the Knesset
The comment about the government of Premier Gamal Abdul Nasser was no retraction by Mr Sharett of any of the sharp criticism he has made of its anti-Israel actions. It came only after he listed the dangers to Israel which he sees in actions of the Arab states and in the policy of the great powers in the Middle East.
But once he swung to the theme of hopeful factors in the area he mentioned the
He expressed the view that there were
There were old scars that will take years to heal, he said. But he condemned as “pernicious” the statements of people
The Prime Minister was aware presumably that these comments would be disliked by a section of the Israeli public that regards any fair word about an Arab state as a sign of weakness. But all through an hour’s talk it was demonstrated that he habitually sees the other fellow’s point of view as well as his own and says a kind word where he thinks it deserved.
The training that developed this trait was revealed when he was talking about Israel’s internal affairs and explaining why democracy in Israel was such a deeply rooted tradition. “Before we became a state our community could
Reviewing the year’s affairs Mr Sharett kept assigning credit as he went along. He mentioned
Investments in the future and in development were coming from
A new wave of the pioneering spirit was noticeable in the country and undoubtedly the example and efforts of former Prime Minister David Ben Gurion were responsible. The young people who were leaving comfortable homes
All through the country improvements were being made. These were not
Mr Sharett gave a cheerfully exasperated picture of Cabinet struggles in a coalition government such as he heads. Each time there was a rift over one issue, he said, it was immediately widened by the introduction of extraneous matters.
“Let’s say we try to limit the crisis to the question of the budget. Still the agenda grows longer all the time. I realize that issues are introduced for face-saving purposes. People can go back to their parties and say that while they yielded on this point they made the other parties yield on a different point. It takes patience, patience; and patience, being a human quality, isn’t inexhaustible.”
All he hoped for in a political way, Mr Sharett said, was “to keep the coalition together until next summer and then let it
Speaking of the Israeli-Arab border relations, Mr Sharett declared: “The myth of Israel’s aggressiveness and expansionism should be pretty well exploded by the comparatively quiet period of recent months. It has been shown that when there is quiet from the other side of the border there are no disturbances from this side.”
He added to this a warning which undoubtedly referred to the outrages of the last few days. “It would be a mistake for anyone to rely,” he said, “on the idea that Israel would remain meekly passive in the face of a sharp deterioration of border security.”
The international balance and trends in the Middle East present a wider problem, Sharett said. He phrased his thought carefully: “We have a grave concern lest the United States in her perfectly understandable impatience to build up and consolidate systems of regional defense does not do harm to the peace and stability in this region which may go a long way to upset the advantages of the regional defense organization – if there is any.”
He said that there was a question about the capacity and willingness of the Arab nations to pay their part in defense of democracy, or of their loyalty to any world cause. There was no question, he added, about their using any accession of strength in preparing aggression against Israel.
The American policy was resulting in the creation of facts in the area detrimental to Israel’s security, Mr Sharett said. He mentioned the intention of Turkey and Iraq to conclude a treaty among recent developments and added:
“We have no quarrel at all with friendliness between Turkish and Iraqi peoples. Nor with the organization of the region for collective defense. We are greatly in favor of collective defense. We believe we can and ought to play a part in any such organization but we find ourselves completely excluded
He said that in the communique announcing the new agreement, Iraq had managed to bring in two points aimed at Israel. The provision that the agreement will operate against internal aggression
It was a paradox that the process of creating facts inimical to Israel was going on, he said, side by side with closer relations and undoubtedly better understanding of Israel’s problems and worries.
“Yet that understanding is not being translated into action,” he said. “What is the result of the understanding? Another delivery of arms to Iraq. And the Security Council back up quietly on the issue of Suez Canal passage. We have the profession of understanding on the one hand and the creation of these facts on the other.”
“Israel came to be,” the Prime Minister said, “as a result of a supreme effort of self-reliance by the Jewish people and we are determined to go on relying on ourselves.” However, he said, the nation is keenly concerned with the development of world relationships.
“It has enjoyed international understanding and assistance,” he said. “No leader of Israel can relish the prospect of the growth of a feeling of enforced isolation in Israel – a state abandoned to its fate – being left to fend for itself against the hazards of its loneliness.”
Mr Sharett questioned what education the Israeli people would get from such a state of affairs. Would they be educated in the hope of international solidarity, he asked, or on the lines that they have only themselves to rely upon[?]
As for the idea that some of the “facts” being created in the region might eventually work for Israel’s benefit, he said that it was possible for a large secure state to work things out on a long-range basis. Israel had to think of the immediate situation. He quoted a proverb that the sun will eventually dry things up but meantime the night dew might put your eyes out.
How about the assurances which Israel has received during recent months from Britain and the United States, he was asked. “I would be glad to leave out the assurance,” he said with a smile. “Let’s have some arrangements.”
SOURCE: Lawson to USSD, February 4, 1955. USNA 684A.86/2-455.