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October 2, 1967

Letter from Derek Day (Foreign Office) to Michael Palliser (Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Prime Minister)

Responding to a request from Michael Palliser (Wilson's Private Secretary for foreign affairs), the Foreign Office's seasoned Europe-watcher Derek Day argued that the government needed to balance three – sometimes conflicting – UK interests. First, there was the position as a European power, particularly with regard to the ongoing EEC application. Second, there was the UK's status as a nuclear power, in which the UK shared “special responsibilities” with the US, exemplified by the UK's acquisition of Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missiles as its primary nuclear deterrent. Third, there was the desire to see a non-proliferation treaty concluded, which sometimes meant disagreement with both the United States and the Soviet Union. Day contended that the United Kingdom seemed to have been successful in positioning itself as understanding European anxieties, with Bonn having congratulated Wilson's administration on bring “good Europeans.” Day's assessment was seen and lauded by Wilson, who hoped that it was correct.

May 18, 1967

Memorandum for the Prime Minister, 'Non-Proliferation'

By the early summer of 1967, Foreign Secretary George Brown felt compelled to comment that "if the situation should arise in which there is a direct confrontation between the United States and Russians on one side—and the members of EURATOM on the other, on the issue of the acceptability of EURATOM safeguards we should have to consider our position very carefully: the whole success of our European policy might depend on the choice we made. For the present it should therefore be a major aim of our policy at Geneva to see that things do not reach such a state." This came only a week after Wilson formally launched the UK's bid to become a member of the EEC, and two days after De Gaulle cast doubt on Britain's fitness to join the community.

October 15, 2020

Interview with Eran Lerman

Eran Lerman is a former Israeli intelligence officer. He served as a member of the Israeli delegation to ACRS. 

November 2, 2020

Interview with Shimon Stein

Shimon Stein is a former Israeli diplomat. He served as a member of the Israeli delegation to ACRS. 

November 27, 2020

Interview with Yezid Sayigh

Yezid Sayigh is a former Palestinian diplomat. He served as an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to ACRS. 

October 27, 2020

Interview with David Ivry

David Ivry was a Major General in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, a commander of the Israeli Air Force, and director of the Israeli National Security Council. He served as the head of the Israeli delegation to ACRS.

November 13, 1974

United Nations General Assembly Official Records, 29th Session : 2282nd Plenary Meeting, Agenda Item 108, 'Question of Palestine (continued)'

As other documents in this collection on Moroccan nationalists in 1947 and 1950 have exemplified, the United Nations was an important arena in decolonization struggles for Arabs, as it was for Asians and Africans as e.g. Alanna O’Malley’s The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain, and the United Nations during the Congo crisis, 1960-1964 (2018) has shown. In this regard, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964 and taken over by the Fatah movement in 1969, was no exception.

To be sure, Palestinian organizations including Fatah and the PLO decried key UN actions. One was the UN Palestine partition plan of 1947; another was UN Security Council resolution 242 of November 1967. Calling upon Israel to withdraw “from territories occupied” during the Six-Day War in June and calling for the “acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace,” it did not mention Palestine or the Palestinians. Even so, the PLO sought to get access to the UN and UN recognition. A crucial landmark on this road was the address to the UN in New York in November 1974 by Yassir Arafat (1929-2004), a Fatah co-founder in 1959 and from 1969 PLO chairman.

Arafat did not speak at the Security Council, which was and is dominated by its five veto-carrying permanent members Britain, China, France, the United States, and the USSR/Russia. Rather, he addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA), where from the 1960s Third World states were in the majority; his speech was the first time that the UNGA allowed a non-state representative to attend its plenary session. The UNGA invited the PLO after having decided, in September, to begin separate hearings on Palestine (rather than making Palestine part of general Middle Eastern hearings), and after the PLO was internationally recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, a landmark accomplishment for the organization. The UNGA president who introduced Arafat, Abdelaziz Bouteflika (1937-2021), was the Foreign Minister of Algeria, which since its independence in 1962 had supported the Palestinian cause organizationally, militarily, and politically. Arafat spoke in Arabic; the below text is the official UN English translation. Arafat did not write the text all by himself; several PLO officials and Palestinians close to the PLO, including Edward Said, assisted, as Timothy Brennan has noted in Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said (2021). Later in November 1974, the UNGA inter alia decided to give the PLO observer status and affirmed Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

April 1947

Remarks by Professor Hugo Bergman of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Leader of the Jewish Delegation from Palestine at the Asian Relations Conference

The first Asian Relations Conference took place in New Delhi, India, from March 23 to April 2, 1947, just prior to that country’s independence in August that year. It was hosted by the head of India’s provisional government, Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964). Its goal was to study common concerns, rekindling Asian connectedness and fostering unity after centuries during which, as Nehru stated, European imperialism had separated Asia’s countries. Its anti-colonial solidarity evinced important continuities with interwar relationships, as Carolien Stolte argues in “‘The Asiatic Hour’: New Perspectives on the Asian Relations Conference” (2014).

The conference was boycotted by late British India’s Muslim leadership, however, and evinced differences in nature and outlook between the delegations. Thirty separate delegations came to New Delhi. Eight were from Caucasian and Central Asian Soviet republics. The other 22 were from Asian countries, most not yet independent. They included Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey (an observer delegation), and one Arab country, Egypt, which, though located in Africa, had for some time been in contact with Asian independence movements. Moreover, the United Nations, Australia, the United States, Great Britain, and the USSR sent observer missions; so did the Arab League.

Most Arab countries, however, declined an invitation, because India’s Muslim leadership did not attend and/or because another invitee was the Zionist Yishuv in Palestine, which gladly accepted. To be precise, the Indian hosts had sent their invitation not to the Yishuvi leadership, the Jewish Agency’s Executive Committee headed by David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), but to a leading Yishuvi institution, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This was because Indian nationalists had been critical of the Yishuv from the interwar years; on a separate note, in 1938 Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) stated that satyagraha, civil disobedience, was German Jews’ best answer to National Socialism. This outraged many, including the Austrian Jewish philosopher and Zionist Martin Buber (1878-1965), who among other things translated the Old Testament into German and republished Jewish and Asian mystical tales. Even so, he and some other European, especially German-speaking, Zionist and non-Zionist Jews in Europe and the Yishuv continued to locate the Jewish people’s past and present and its postcolonial cultural and political future in Asia. They did so imagining that continent as not anti-Semitic, and/or as more spiritual than “the West,” and/or as a rising political force in a decolonizing world. Some scholars, including Rephael Stern and Arie Dubnov in a chapter in the edited volume Unacknowledged Kinships: Postcolonial Studies and the Historiography of Zionism, have called this approach Zionist Asianism. To be sure, Zionist and Jewish Asianism assumed different forms, and a good number of Jews, for instance the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), and the leader of revisionist Zionism, Zeev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (1880-1940), disagreed, emphasizing Europeanness. Still, Zionist Asianism was a real force. Hence, the Hebrew University happily organized a delegation to India, some of whose male and female members were from outside the university. It was headed by a German-speaking philosopher and Zionist activist who had migrated to Palestine in 1919, Shmuel Hugo Bergmann (1883-1975), who was the university library director—and whose English address to the conference forms the text printed here.

We thank Carolien Stolte for providing essential information about the Asian Relations Conference.

June 29, 2020

Interview and Discussion with Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Discussion with Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Defense Secretary and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, about the 1990s and the new relationship that formed after the Cold War.

June 17, 2020

Interview and Discussion with Andrzej Olechowski

Discussion with Polish Minister Andrzej Olechowski about his life and Poland in the 1990s.