Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Mr. Morgenthau Doesn't Go to Istanbul

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Mr. Morgenthau Doesn't Go to Istanbul

Article excerpt

A LITTLE KNOWN HISTORICAL incident took place in the spring of 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I on the side of the Allies. President Woodrow Wilson devised a plan for bringing about an early end to the war by detaching Turkey from the Central Powers. To this end, he sent a mission to Europe, where it was to meet with representatives of Britain and France in Switzerland and then make its way to Turkey. The mission was headed by Henry Morgenthau, Sr, who had been American ambassador to Turkey from 1912 to 1915 and had many contacts there. This story is related in Chapter 17 of Chaim Weizmann's 1949 autobiography, Trial and Error.

The American mission never arrived in Switzerland, let alone Turkey. In early June of 1917, Weizmann, who was then in London, received a cable from Louis Brandeis in the U.S., informing him of the mission and suggesting that he contact it Weizmann immediately contacted members of the British government and learned the nature of the mission. Weizmann was concerned that the Morgenthau mission might result in the war ending with the Ottoman Empire still intact, eliminating the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine.

A subsequent conference with Lord Balfour lead to Weizmann's being sent as the official British representative to meet with the American mission and a French representative. …

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