Mrs. Roosevelt and
the Sultan of Morocco
Eleanor Roosevelt's support of Israel was a continuing one. In 1956 Judge Justine Wise Polier came to her, distressed over the plight of more than ten thousand Moroccan Jews who had reached Casablanca in order to go to Israel and who were now being prevented from leaving. They were living in conditions of misery with the danger of an outbreak of epidemic ever-present. The World Jewish Congress, organizer of the exodus which it thought had the support of the sultan of Morocco, was distraught.
Mrs. Roosevelt listened and, "with the smile that lighted her face when she felt she could be of help to others," told Justine that the latter had come at an opportune moment. She could help, she thought. She had recently received the ambassador from newly independent Morocco, who had come as an emissary from Mohammed V, the sultan, to Hyde Park to lay a wreath on FDR's grave. The ambassador had arrived with such a large entourage from his embassy and from the State Department that Mrs. Roosevelt had not even had enough food for tea and had to send out for more. When tea was over the ambassador had asked for a few moments alone with her. The sultan had directed him to convey to her his deep appreciation of President Roosevelt's advice to him in North Africa in 1943. The president had counseled him to protect Morocco's underground waters when concessions would be given for exploration of oil after the war. The sultan would never forget Roosevelt's consideration for the Moroccan people, and he wanted her to know that he was agreeing to the continuance of United States air bases in Morocco because of his gratitude.
This was an ideal time for her to write the sultan, Mrs. Roosevelt said, her eyes twinkling. A few days later she dispatched the following letter: