Weizmann proposed transfer of one million Palestinians
Yediot Aharonot, 25 May 1993
President Hayim Weizmann proposed a transfer of a million Arabs from Palestine to Iraq to settle Polish Jews in their place
In February 1941, Dr. Hayim Weizmann [who became later the first President of the State of Israel] visited the then USSR Ambassador in London, Ivan Meiski. The meeting was secret. The World War II was then in its first stages. While Britain was fighting for its very life, the USSR was neutral, being true to the cynical agreement it had signed with Nazi Germany [in 1939]  Meiski described the meeting in his personal diary. Two years afterwards, when he returned to Moscow, the diary was taken from him and filed away in the archive of the Foreign Ministry of the USSR. But documents, like old soldiers, never die.
At the end of April 1993, in an official ceremony, the agreement for mutual opening of archives was signed between Israel and Russia. Among the fossilized documents given to the Israeli researchers accordingly was Meiski’s diary. “Lately”, writes the Ambassador, “an unexpected visitor came to me: a well-known Zionist leader, Dr. Weizmann. He is a tall man, not young by now, elegantly dressed, with a very white skin and almost bald. He wears a triangular beard and talks slowly. ‘In Palestine’, he told me, ‘there is a problem: where to export the oranges. Therefore, I am asking you whether a barter of Palestinian oranges for Russian furs can be arranged. The furs will then be sold, through Jewish firms, in the U.S.’ I told him that the [Soviet] answer to this proposal will not be positive. The USSR is not importing any fruit from abroad. So it indeed happened. Moscow refused.
“The conversation continued on what the world Jews can expect. Weizmann was very pessimistic. According to him, the number of Jews in the entire world is about 17 million. 10-11 million of them live under reasonable conditions: they are not faced by a prospect of immediate extermination. As far as the Soviet Jews are concerned, Weizmann said: ‘I am not worried about them, they are not faced by any danger. They will be assimilated completely in the Russian society within 20-30 years if the existing regime will continue to exist.’ How will they be assimilated, I asked. ‘Don’t you know that Soviet Jews enjoy all the rights of a national minority, just like Armenians, Georgians, Ukrainans and all the other minorities?’ ‘I know it well’, said Weizmann, ‘When I speak about assimilation I mean that the Jews will become a part of the Russian society. I may not like it, but I can live with it. What is disturbing me is the fate of 6-7 million Jews in Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, the Balkan states, and particularly Poland. What will be their fate? Where will they go?’ Weizmann sighed deeply and added: ‘If Germany will win the war, all those Jews will be exterminated. I don’t believe that Germany will win the war. But even if England will win, what will happen then?’
“At this point Weizmann began to express his apprehensions.’The English hate the Jews…(2) English officials are being trained in countries like Nigeria, Sudan, Rhodesia and so on. In such countries, if only a few roads are made, a few laws enacted, missionary activities are encouraged here and there, some medical help is being offered, everything becomes simple and quiet. Those who are ruled don’t cause problems. The English conqueror likes this situation and gets used to it. But what is happening in Palestine? There,’ said Weizmann with great emotion, ‘grave problems exist. While Arabs behave like docile guinea pigs, the Jews cause the English officials to despair. They are never content with anything, they always ask questions and demand answers. Then the Englishman gets angry, and tends to look on the Jews as on a nuisance. The worst thing is that the English official feels that the Jews are looking on him and thinking: You think yourself clever? We are more clever than you.’
“Therefore, Weizmann raised the following question, with a great worry: ‘What will be the benefit which the Jews will get from an English victory? The answer to this question cannot be encouraging.’ The sole plan for saving Jews of Central Europe, and especially of the Polish Jews is, according to Weizmann, ‘a transfer of a million of Arabs from Palestine, and the settling of 4-5 million Jews from Poland an other countries in their stead. But it can be assumed that the English will not agree to this plan. If so, what next?’
“I expressed my astonishment. How Weizmann can intend to bring 5 million Jews to an area in which now only one million Arabs are living? ‘Don’t you worry’, smiled Weizmann. ‘The Arabs are often called ’the sons of the desert.’ It is, however, more correct to call them ‘the fathers of the desert’. An Arab is primitive and lazy by nature, and therefore he is able to make a desert from any blooming garden. If only you will give me the area, I will be able to settle 5 million Jews in the place of a single Arab.’ Weizmann sadly nodded with his head, and ended, ‘The only question is how the area can be obtained.” (3)
Translation and notes by Prof. Israel Shahak:
(1) It should be recalled that Stalin, although formally neutral, was at that time an ally of Hitler
(2) The indicated omission is in Barnea’s text
(3) I have no doubt that the recorded conversation represented an attempt by Weizmann, which for whatever reason was not followed up, to make an alliance with Hitler and Stalin against Britain.