Access to Oil After this first meeting between a U. Fear of an oil shortage. An exchange of gifts including a wheelchair and a budding friendship. When Franklin D. Navy destroyer in the Suez Canal , it was the first time a U. The principal reason for the meeting, which lasted several hours, according to Scott Montgomery, author and affiliate faculty member in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, had to do with the prospect of a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, with Roosevelt trying to persuade the king to accept 10, Jews in Palestine.
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In what resembles a classic display of an unholy alliance, the two countries look as if they have buried their hatchet and old rivalry under the Iranian rug. What once seemed an eternal rivalry of biblical dimensions is now celebrated as the beginning of a wonderful partnership.
Fleshed out in his famous meeting and correspondences with US President Franklin D Roosevelt more than half a century ago, it would colour Arab and Muslim popular imagination of Israel and Palestine for decades to come. In November , at the peak of the Arab Revolt in Mandate Palestine, Ibn Saud wrote to Roosevelt: "The Jews have no right to Palestine and their claim is an act of injustice unprecedented in the history of the human race.
In a strikingly apocalyptic tone, Ibn Saud warned that if the Jews of Europe ventured into Palestine, "the heavens will split, the earth will be rent asunder, and the mountains will tremble at what the Jews claim in Palestine, both materially and spiritually".
Writing against the backdrop of the Second World War, he warned that the Allies should not allow in Palestine a people "who have no ties with this country except an imaginary claim which, from the point of view of right and justice, has no grounds except what they invent through fraud and deceit".
The king concluded his letter in the same apocalyptic tenor, meshed with a prophetic warning: "For if - God forbid! It was the first meeting of its kind. In his account of the meeting, FDR Meets Ibn Saud, Colonel William Eddy, who acted as an impresario of the meeting of the two leaders, recounts a pleasant conversation that snowballed into heated argument.
After a lavish exchange of gifts, followed by a royal feast and sips of Arabian coffee, the two leaders rapidly diverged over the question of Palestine. Roosevelt conveyed to the king his support for the founding of a Jewish national home in Palestine following the imminent end of the British Mandate.
The king reminded the president that the country belonged to the Arabs, remarking, that "Palestine would be drenched in blood. Muslims looked to him to fulfill this mission. In a rare confession, he intimated to the Zionist leader Rabbi Stephen Wise, referring to Ibn Saud: "He was an old man and he had swollen ankles and he wanted to live out his life in peace without leaving a memory of himself as a traitor to the Arab cause. Ibn Saud, who spent his final years calling upon Muslims to wage a holy war against the Zionists in Palestine, lived long enough to see his prophecy come true.
By the time of his death, in , the Arabs had lost Palestine, the Jews had taken over Jerusalem, and the United States had taken the side of Israel. Israel has grown into an unparalleled military power, surrounded by powerless and impoverished Arab states. Saudi Arabia has amassed fabulous wealth, emerging on the global stage as a regional power, and branding itself custodian of Islam, Arab unity and the Palestinian cause. In a region dominated by shifting alliances and periodic rebalancing, no enmity seems too sacred to last, and no union too sacred to falter.
Yet the irony persists. In a chilling historical paradox that would make his father shudder, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is also "an old man who has swollen ankles and [who] wants to live out his life in peace without leaving a memory of himself as a traitor to the Arab cause", has found in Israel a natural and staunch ally for his revived "Arab" cause: Sunni Islam. But images linger.
While Saudi and Israeli officials at the top quietly rejoice over their cozy rapprochement and anti-Iranian honeymoon, it is unlikely that these views will disappear overnight. The New ArabComments.
The Saudis, the Jews and FDR’s dog
The Saudis, The Jews, and FDR’s Dog
How FDR Charmed a Saudi King and Won U.S. Access to Oil