Benny Morris claims:

Already before the war, Iraq’s prime minister had warned British diplomats that if the United Nations decided on a solution to the Palestine problem that was not “satisfactory” to the Arabs, “severe measures should [would?] be taken against all Jews in Arab countries.” Morris, Benny (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-14524-3.

While Shamir Hassan says that Nuri warned from the response of the masses:

Before the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine vote, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-said told British diplomats that if the United Nations solution was not “satisfactory” the wrath of the Arab masses was liable to respond to the Zionist proposals for Palestine by turning against the Jews. JEWISH MIGRATION FROM ARAB LANDS 1946-49: Proceedings of the Indian History Congress , 2017, Vol. 78 (2017), pp. 886-892

This quote was listed in this answer as an example of threats and direct actions but Shamir Hassan's version presents it as a warning of a consequence, not as a direct consequence of Iraqi government actions.

What is the correct version of Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Said's quote?

  • 2
    Later in 1949 while talking to the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine "the Prime Minister explained that he was not thinking in terms of persecution; he did not wish the Commission to receive a false impression with regard to his personal sentiments towards the Jews." web.archive.org/web/20131020035641/http://unispal.un.org/…
    – Ona
    Mar 28 at 5:09
  • 1
    Which seems to give credence to the second version (but his opinions in 1947 might've been different)
    – Ona
    Mar 28 at 5:20
  • Is this a serious question? All of the Arab countries at that time were either monarchies or military dictatorships. It is difficult to imagine that the "masses" would cause any serious issues unless the police and military at least looked the other way. Iraq specifically had just had a military coup and after a lost war had considerable British military presence. Additionally, Iraq participated in the 1948 invasion of Israel, so quite obviously the government was very much on board with anti-Jew sentiments.
    – Tom
    Mar 28 at 7:16
  • I'm not seeing a clear claim to challenge. Could you clarify what the claim is? Mar 28 at 13:35
  • @Jiminy Cricket is what Benny Morris said correct? e.g what did Nuri al-Said say to british diplomats
    – Ona
    Mar 28 at 15:34

1 Answer 1


The Arab League: 1946-1947 (which appears to reproduce original notes) says:

[This telegram is of particular secrecy and should be retained by the authorised recipient and not passed on]

Mr. Busk ...


10th September , 1947.
Repeated to Damascus,
New York (U.K. delegation)


My Telegram No. 804.

Prime Minister informed me on September 9th that his [grp.undec. ? reason for calling] a meeting of the Arab League to discuss Palestine had been that he felt it was of vital importance that the British and American Governments should be under no illusions as to what would happen if they support a policy in Palestine unacceptable to the Arabs. He said that he imagined that the Arab League would inform both Governments that if the Arab views were ignored there would be serious trouble political and economic, between the Arab world and Great Britain and the United States . No one would regret this more than the Prime Minister, but it was inevitable.

  1. Prime Minister imagined that the [grp.undec. ? meeting ] would decide that in such an event secret decisions reached at Bludan (your despatch 330 1946) would be put into effect. ...


  1. Prime Minister said that he had nothing against Iraqi Jews who were a long established and useful community. He felt bound to tell me, however, that the Arab League meeting might decide that if a satisfactory solution of the Palestine case was not reached severe measures should be taken against all Jews in Arab countries. He would be unable to resist such a proposal.

So "the Arab League meeting might decide that if a satisfactory solution of the Palestine case was not reached severe measures should be taken against all Jews in Arab countries" is the correct quote, but it is a quote of the telegram of Douglas Busk paraphrasing his conversation with the prime minister. It is not a direct quote of the prime minister.

  • Thanks Dave. @Tom So Morris took "Should X happen, then Y" and quoted it as "X should [would?] happen"
    – Ona
    Mar 28 at 20:28
  • 1
    @Ona see also this discussion of previous British use of "should" where "would" might be used currently. grammarphobia.com/blog/2018/07/should-would.html
    – DavePhD
    Mar 28 at 20:39
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    I think it's absurd to say that it was it's a correct quote. It complelty flips Nuri's position. He is clearly against such measures while Benny Morris makes it seems that he is for them.
    – Ona
    Mar 29 at 2:12
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    @TheAsh : it is hardly a threat if the targetted population doesn't hear about it. If the quote comes from the secret minutes of a meeting of the Arab League, there is no way Jews in Arab countries (or Sionists trying to establish Israel, or "British and American Governments") would feel threatened. Maybe the Arab League official position was threatening, but it seems Iraqi PM's was trying not to take that position.
    – Evargalo
    Mar 29 at 7:43
  • 1
    @Ona The answer isn't saying that either of the OP quotes is correct. The answer is just stating the correct quote from the original notes.
    – DavePhD
    Mar 29 at 12:02

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