Roosevelt's Zionist seesaw

FDR's correspondence with Saudi king proved he would not usher in era of redemption.

January 30, 2017 10:30
4 minute read.
Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill

Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, 1943.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

God assigns a specific task to every person on this Earth in order for His divine vision to be fulfilled.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, born on January 30, 1882, in Hyde Park, New York, was tasked to bring the United States out of the Depression and lead them to victory in the Second World War. If he would play a role in fulfilling God's plan to return Israel to its land was yet to be seen.  

During the war and the period leading up to the fighting, the Episcopalian FDR had gone back and forth regarding the future of the Jews and a Jewish state.

On one occasion, in a meeting with the American Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Wise in 1938, Roosevelt made clear his antipathy to Jews specifically returning to their biblical and ancient homeland.

In the meeting on January 22, 1938, FDR said: “‘In that case we might find some large areas as a second choice [after Palestine] for the Jews,’ authors Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman record in their book FDR and the Jews.

"Wise parried by asking whether FDR would be willing to swap his Hyde park estate for the huge King Ranch in Texas. Palestine, he said was the Jewish homeland. FDR responded, ‘I am not offering a substitute for Palestine, but Palestine possibilities are going to be exhausted.’ As the president put it, ‘You ought to have another card up your sleeve.’”

On the other hand, Roosevelt also clarified his postwar vision of the Middle East, which in his mind would no doubt contain a sovereign Jewish entity.

"Since he wanted sizable Jewish immigration to continue, he accepted and, at times explicitly endorsed, a future Palestine with a dominant Jewish influence," the two authors wrote.

But in reality, there was no way to truly define where the US president stood on the matter.

“Over the course of more than a decade as president, Roosevelt sounded at times like a Zionist, at times like a skeptic about Palestine’s capacity to absorb new settlers, and at times, when speaking to antisemites, like an antisemite himself,” Breitman and Lichtman wrote.

In 1945, as the war in Europe was coming to a close, the world’s eyes began to look more seriously at the Jewish remnant – to assess their situation and to see how the nation could be revived.

Others, such as King Ibn Saud of Saudi, were doing all they could to prevent that from happening. Saud wrote a letter to Roosevelt, asking for the US president to not help the Jewish people make it to the Holy Land, and in return there would be financial benefits regarding the kingdom's vast oil reserves.

In a letter dated April 5, 1945, Roosevelt reiterated his wish to help the Arabs and not do anything to assist the Jews against the Arabs. 

"It gives me pleasure to renew to Your Majesty the assurances which you have previously received regarding the attitude of my Government and my own, as Chief Executive, with regard to the question of Palestine and to inform you that the policy of this Government in this subject is unchanged," he wrote.

The correspondence he had with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia was the straw that broke the camel’s back – he was no longer fit to usher in the era of the redemption with the establishment of the State of Israel in three years' time. Only those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed.

Roosevelt died a week later April 12, 1945 in Warm Springs, Georgia, making way for Truman, someone who wouldn’t hesitate regarding the decision.

“On many occasions [FDR and Truman adviser David] Niles expressed doubt that Israel would have come into existence if FDR had lived,” wrote Michael T. Benson in Israel and the Legacy of Harry S. Truman.

“I believe this to be the case, given FDR’s inclination to make multiple promises to various groups. One thing is quite certain, however. One would be hard-pressed to find another president as willing as Truman was to stand up to the entire State Department and the foreign policy-making apparatus over an issue such as Palestine. UN Secretary-General [Trygve] Lie said, 'I think we can safely say that if there had been no Harry S. Truman, there would be no Israel today. '"

Roosevelt had finished his job in securing a victory for the Allied forces, letting the remnant of Israel begin to regroup and head for the Promised Land, as Isaiah prophesied. “Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return” (Isaiah 10:22).

It was time for a new world leader to guarantee statehood for the battered Nation of Israel.

To learn more about Jewish-Christian relations, and the building of the modern State of Israel as envisaged by the prophets of the Bible check us out at @christian_jpost, on and see the best of the Holy Land in
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