A Tale of Two Galloways
Notes on the Early History of UNRWA and Zionist Historiography

by Alexander H. Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky
Middle Eastern Studies
September 2010



A famous quote, ‘Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die’, attributed to an UNRWA official called ‘Ralph Galloway’, is examined. The real author was Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway, who was briefly an UNRWA official in Jordan during 1951-52. Galloway’s career is reviewed along with the circumstances of his brief tenure with UNRWA. He clashed with the Jordanian government over control of the organization during a period of economic crisis and was eventually fired at their request. Galloway’s statement was made to visiting American clergy but Zionist writers recopying earlier sources lost Galloway’s identity. The historiography of the quote is discussed along with the implications of Galloway’s true identity for understanding the history of UNRWA.


In Zionist historiography the following quote has a distinctive place:

The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.

Attributed to an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jordan, ‘Ralph Galloway’ and dated variously through the 1950s, the quote was reprinted numerous times in Zionist and official Israeli publications and in scholarly studies. Diplomats, scholars, and propagandists interesting the Palestinian refugee problem, the development of UNRWA, and other subjects have continued to use the statement to demonstrate the refugee problem is a political tool. Use of this statement has continued to the present. An Internet search reveals dozens of occurrences and a search for ‘Ralph Galloway’, many more.

But ‘Ralph Galloway’ never existed. How and why the real author of the quote, Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway, mutated into ‘Ralph Galloway’ is discussed below. Doing so entails examination of military and diplomatic history, and historiography. And while the quote is real, its significance is altered and diminished with the disappearance of the actual author.

Who was Galloway?

Alexander ‘Sandy’ Galloway was born in the Scottish Lowlands at Minto Manse, Hawick, on November 3, 1895, the second son and youngest of four children of the Presbyterian minister of Minto, Reverend Alexander Galloway, and Margaret Rankin Smith. Galloway was educated at King William’s College, Isle of Man, but the First World War broke out as he was about to go up to Cambridge. He volunteered and thanks to his school’s strong military training was commissioned.[1]

Galloway saw active service with 4th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers at Gallipoli, and took part in the campaigns in Egypt and Palestine before being assigned to the Western Front. He became a regular army officer in 1917 and was awarded the Military Cross in 1918. He ended the war with the rank of captain.[2]

Galloway married Dorothy White in 1920 and they had three sons. After serving in Hong Kong in 1925 with the 4th Battalion, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, he became Adjutant of the 1st Battalion of the Cameronians. Galloway entered the Staff College at Camberley in class of 1928. In 1932 Galloway became Brigade Major of the Canal Brigade in Egypt. Galloway returned to the UK in 1934 and worked in staff positions in the War Office. He was an instructor at Camberley in February 1937 before being assigned as a Lieutenant Colonel to command the 1st Cameronians in Calcutta in August 1938.[3]

In February 1940 Galloway became the first commander of the new Middle East Staff College at Haifa, established to train officers who could not reach England because of wartime conditions.[4] But this appointment was brief. In October 1940 he was made temporary brigadier and general staff – chief staff officer to Lieutenant-General Henry Maitland Wilson, General Officer and Commander in Chief of British Troops in Egypt. Early in 1941 he was Wilson’s brigadier during the ill-fated expeditionary force to Greece and played a key role in organizing its evacuation.[5] Later that year he commanded the 23rd Brigade in the brief campaign against Vichy Syria. Awarded a C.B.E. and back in Egypt, Galloway became chief staff officer of the new Eighth Army under Lieutenant-General Sir Alan Cunningham.

In this role Galloway displayed a unique combination of loyalty, daring and independence. Operation Crusader, in November-December 1941, was the third and final attempt to relieve the siege of Tobruk and break the German and Italian forces in North Africa. After tough initial fighting, the British had made important gains, only to be countered by a stunning breakthrough overseen by Rommel. Cunningham suffered a nervous breakdown and sought to break off the battle. On his own initiative Galloway convened a meeting of Eighth Army commanders and independently summoned the theater commander, Claude Auchinleck, to the front, apprising him of Cunningham’s state. In the meantime, Galloway withheld Cunningham’s orders to move the army headquarters.[6]

It was Egypt’s good luck that Auchinleck concurred with Galloway; the battle was pressed and won. Cunningham was relieved of command and after a brief stay in a Cairo military hospital spent the remainder of the war in the British Isles. He returned to the Middle East in 1945 as High Commissioner for Palestine to oversee the end of the British Mandate.

Galloway was promoted to acting Major-General in December 1941 and was sent to the United States to select equipment for the Eighth Army. But Galloway had come to the attention of General Sir Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who appointed him Director of Staff Duties at the War Office, ‘much to his vexation’.[7]

In July 1943 Galloway was sent to command the 1st Armoured Division in the Mediterranean which remained in reserve during the campaign through Italy. In March 1944 he took temporary command of 4th Indian division during the bitter fighting at Cassino, an engagement that saw much of the division destroyed. After falling ill he was recalled to the staff at the request of General Bernard Montgomery.

In January 1945 Galloway was called on to organize massive relief efforts in Holland. The winter of 1944-1945 was known in the Netherlands as the infamous ‘hunger winter.’ The failure of Operation Market Garden in September 1944 stalled the Allied advance through Europe. To aid the Allies the Dutch government in exile called for a railroad strike but the Germans retaliated with a food embargo. Coupled with especially brutal winter weather, food stocks dropped drastically in Holland and starvation was widespread.

To relieve the humanitarian situation for some three and a half million Dutch, the Western Holland District was set up under Galloway. He described the situation as ‘potentially perfectly awful’ and warned against optimism that the Allied occupation would immediately resolve the situation.[8] In coordination with SHAEF Galloway’s organization stockpiled food stores and transportation.

This effort was not easily accomplished. In January and February 1945 Galloway was temporarily assigned to command the 3rd Division and during his absence stored food was diverted by Montgomery for his troops and to supply Belgium. At the same time a dispute emerged between the 21st Army Group and SHAEF regarding responsibility for relief efforts. These developments caused a severe political strain between Dutch leaders and the Allies.[9] Galloway’s return at the beginning of March put the relief effort back on track. Large-scale relief efforts followed quickly behind advancing Allied troops in March through May 1945.[10]

At the end of the war Galloway was appointed Chief of Staff of the 21st Army Group and in February 1946 was assigned to command the XXX Corps in Holland. Later in 1946 Galloway was assigned to command the British army in Malaya. There Galloway’s challenge was to maintain security for British economic interests and the political process but he was hampered by military demobilization. Specifically, he warned of gaps that would appear in late 1947 and early 1948 when Gurkha battalions were withdrawn from the garrison and he recommended high-grade intelligence, mobility, and decisive and timely political action.[11] His warnings were prescient. Attacks increased in early 1948 and prompted the declaration of the Malay Emergency by the colonial government, which took twelve years to suppress.

Galloway’s final command in October 1947 was High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief of British forces in Austria, where he was beset by crises. After the occupying powers failed to negotiate a treaty on the restoration of Austrian sovereignty, Soviet harassment of the Allies escalated. Over 12,000 railroad cars used to transport goods from Austria to Hungary and Rumania had disappeared, the beginning of a process that by 1955 saw the Soviet expropriation of over $2 billion of Austrian assets. The mysterious disappearance of the Austrian official responsible for the railroad cars was followed by the abduction of hundreds of more Austria nationals from the Soviet zone.[12] Difficult negotiations over restitution of captured Austrian property, demands that students from Hungary, Rumania and elsewhere at Austrian universities be ‘registered’ with Soviet authorities, and wage-price controls went on throughout the winter.

By April 1948 Soviet efforts to restrict the access of Allied forces to Vienna, at first by road and rail and then air increased. The Allies were defiant but Galloway’s protests were rebuffed.[13] As with the better-known Berlin airlift, assertive Allied action eventually overcame the Soviet blockade.

Galloway and his colleagues also faced the political problem of reconstituting Austrian authorities in western occupation zones. The Soviet Union proposed that occupation forces permit the emergence of new political parties, which the Allies opposed on the obvious grounds that the Soviets sought to control these parties. Reestablishing police and local government also gave the Soviet Union the opportunity to promote Austrian communists. Finally, the recreation of the Austrian military was delicate affair, given escalating Cold War tensions.[14] Through it all Galloway represented Western and British interests vigorously.

A full appreciation of Galloway’s subsequent encounter with Arab refugees is not complete without understanding post-war refugee crises in which Austria played a central role. The post-war refugee crisis was enormous, numbering in the tens of millions.[15] The problem was addressed by a plethora of well-planned military, governmental and private groups and schemes that quickly encountered reality on the ground.[16] In Austria itself in 1947 there were 138,000 refugees and displaced registered with the International Refugee Organization. British authorities in Austria were caught in between numerous competing requirements, particularly with respect to Jewish refugees.

The Yalta Agreement had specified that Soviet ‘citizens’ were subject to repatriation but initially the Soviets permitted emigration of Jews from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other occupied areas. This policy reflected the convergence of circumstances, including Soviet desire to be rid of undesirable elements, similar desires among Polish, Rumanian, Hungarian and Yugoslav governments, and some genuine desire to help Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust.[17] Most of these Jews crossed into American zones of occupation, rather than British, and from there moved to French and Italian ports and on to Palestine. The Soviets exploited differences between the British and Americans by permitting and encouraging the movement of Jews and others.

The British policy of refusing and expelling Jewish refugees from Palestine reverberated back into Europe. Partially as a response to the Palestine issue, the British were determined to see the Jews as part of the larger refugee problem and not as a special case. No British liaison officers were assigned to Jewish groups and camps, and no official recognition given to representative bodies. Reintegration into the country of origin or overseas resettlement were the preferred British solutions to Jewish and other refugee problems and the British feared autonomous Jewish DP camps would only intensify Zionist sentiment.[18] At the same time British officials complained that illegal Jewish immigration was heavily organized by relief agencies such as the American Joint Distribution Committee and would rebound on the British in Palestine.[19] Containing the Jewish refugee problem to Europe was the overall British goal. Galloway’s role in these matters remains unknown but the circumstances almost certainly shaped his subsequent thinking.

Galloway retired from the military in February 1950 having been decorated by the Greece, Netherlands and the Czechoslovak Republic. The biographer of fellow Cameronian General Sir Richard O’Connor’s biographer notes that Galloway was a ‘somewhat frightening person’ whose nickname in the Battalion was the ‘PR’ for ‘perpetual rage’.[20] Others describe Galloway as ‘a quick, hard man; restless, quick-tempered, able and equipped with a caustic sense of humour’, ‘a forceful personality, crisp in speech, impatient and, like his Army Commander (Cunningham) inclined to short temper’, and ‘outspoken, decisive in manner, and fearless’.[21] O’Connor himself noted Galloway had ‘great charm but was liable to get into unpredictable temper, which generally did not last long, but were formidable while they lasted’.[22] But fellow Cameronian Eric K.G. Sixsmith also highlighted ‘his most generous disposition… great sense of humour, and he sparkled with enthusiasm’.[23]

A contemporary offered the most penetrating insights. Miles Reid, a World War I veteran who rejoined the British Army, served alongside Galloway in North Africa and the Greek expedition. While praising Galloway’s coolness and executive abilities he noted:

his initial technique was always to adopt an attitude of furious and definite authority but if one discounted this opening bid and waited till he had subsided and then started all over again no one wanted a better senior staff officer under whom to work.[24]

A 1942 letter from Galloway to Auchinleck, written from the War Office, provides insight on his sense of mission and attitude toward organizations:

I go home at night dead-tired with vexation because a third of every day is spent in the building fighting battles which are not against the Axis powers and I cannot see that it is necessary. We have a hundred examples of the bad effects upon military conception of operations and upon their carrying out by political influence, wangling, ogling, jockeying and the like and yet every time that any military operation takes place it still suffers from the same thing, and as long as we go on as we do now we shall continue so to suffer. It is a very great tragedy for it has cost the lives of thousands of men, prolonged the last two wars by at least two years and has lost us, and will continue to lose us, numbers of our best officers.[25]

As noted by Farrar-Hockley, ‘By mischance his talents as a dynamic and courageous leader had been sacrificed to his reputation as a staff officer’.[26] His experience and insight were the British Army’s loss and UNRWA’s gain.

Galloway and UNRWA

In April 1951 the 55 year old Galloway filled out, by hand, an application for UN employment. How he came to the UN and UNRWA is unknown. In his application he noted his experience in the military, Malaya and Austria. Where asked for references he testily noted ‘From the nature of the employment given it should be clear that I have held suitable and responsible posts. If any ‘reference’ is required the following may be invited to give their opinion.’ He then listed Prime Minster Clement Atlee, former Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, Field Marshall Montgomery, and Field Marshall Slim, then Commander in Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

When asked about preferred postings, Galloway indicated Executive Assistant to the Director of UNRWA Beirut, UNRWA Administrator in Egypt, and finally UNRWA Liaison Officer in North Africa. How he became UNRWA Representative in Jordan is unknown. The only other document in his UNRWA personnel file is a confidential note from Sir Henry F. Knight, British representative to the UNRWA Advisory Committee, who stated that Bevin and Sir William Strang, Foreign Office Under Secretary, had given references and pronounced him a ‘good man.’[27]

Galloway arrived in Jordan at a particularly eventful juncture in modern Middle Eastern history.

UNRWA in 1951

The United Nations General Assembly had created UNRWA with Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to ‘carry out in collaboration with local governments the direct relief and works programmes’ as recommended by the earlier Economic Survey Mission, and to ‘consult with the interested Near Eastern Governments concerning measures to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available.’ Prior to this, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine had been instructed in General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 to facilitate ‘the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation.’

The concepts of refugee relief and works (or development) on a finite organization timeline were built into the initial language of UNRWA. The moral hazard inherent in open-ended support for refugees was recognized [28] but the tripartite formula of repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation was the only political means to nominally engage all the parties.

At the time of Galloway’s appointment, an American, John B. Blandford, Jr. had just taken over as UNRWA administrator with the rank of Ambassador, replacing the first administrator, Canadian Major General Howard Kennedy. The backgrounds of the first UNRWA administrators were deliberate. Kennedy had been a military quartermaster, while Blandford had extensive experience with housing and economic development projects, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, National Housing Agency, and as an international advisor.

Galloway’s own archives do not include any documents pertaining to UNRWA. Copies of his monthly reports from Amman are found in British records but only through October 1951. In the absence of other contemporary documents, including UNRWA archives which remain closed to researchers, clues to the situation Galloway faced in Amman are found in the confidential reports of Sir Henry F. Knight to the Foreign Office, and telegrams from Geoffrey Furlonge, British ambassador to Jordan.

At the beginning of 1951, several months before Galloway took up his position, Knight made the attitude of Arab states clear to the Foreign Office:

In short I suspect that the Arab countries not having much change out of the United Nations at Lake Success, propose to take it out of UNRWA both financially and administratively. Logically of course they may have a good case as they were not, at least in their own view, responsible for the plight of the refugees. Whether in view of the international situation, and the USA’s and our interests in the Near East, the Arab states can overcall their hand, I hesitate to say, but I anticipate a period of increasing difficulty for UNRWA in the near future![29]

Knight’s reports are filled with a stream of political and practical concerns, along with rumors regarding shifting Arab attitudes. From the side of the Arab states UNRWA was exploited and manipulated, for example, as the Syrian Government placed a tax on wheat to be supplied to refugees. From the UNRWA side there was also ‘mission creep,’ as UNRWA took on responsibility for feeding the ‘original inhabitants of Gaza, who have been deprived of any means of livelihood, but who are not strictly speaking refugees’ with the rationale that voluntary agencies are ‘entirely broken reeds’ and ‘It will be difficult to see them starve while we feed refuges alongside’[30]

The visit of UN Secretary General Tryvge Lie to the region in April 1951 was an opportunity for Knight to report on attitudes at the highest level of that organization:

He [Lie] was profoundly disappointed in the attitude of the Arab States toward the UN, and particularly toward Israel and the refugee problem, with their insistence on repatriation of refugees under UN auspices; the Arab States’ views seemed to him entirely unrealistic.

He was impressed by the Advisory Commission’s opinion that the Arab League resolutions on the subject and similar statements are in reality a ‘smoke-screen’ to cover the Arab States’ change of opinion and their recognition of the inevitability of reintegration of refugees elsewhere than in Israel.[31]

That the Advisory Committee believed the Arab states’ attitudes were both a ‘smoke screen’ and that they would inevitably accept resettlement outside Israel are important insights regarding the organization which Galloway and his Blandford were about to join. Curiously, the Jordanian takeover of the West Bank on 1 April did not merit Knight’s notice and does not figure in British diplomatic correspondence.

Galloway and Blandford in 1951

Blandford and Galloway appeared on the scene in July 1951 and the former offered a new series of proposals. The nebulous term ‘reintegration’ was used and internally Knight described Blandford’s proposal this way; ‘Reintegration is interpreted as assistance to refugees in finding homes and jobs’.[32] But the murders of Lebanese Prime Minister Riad as-Solh in Amman on 17 July and then King Abdullah in Jerusalem on 20 July made Blandford’s initial visits to Arab leaders difficult. The resignation of the Syrian government at the end of that month complicated matters further.

In his reports for September and October Knight complains bitterly about the United Nations Palestine Conciliation Commission undermining UNRWA’s efforts, UNRWA’s deepening financial crises, and the usual misleading conciliatory hints from Arab leaders. In his report of 22 August 1951 Knight stated ‘From what I have heard, Blandford is doing a lot to improve the administration of UNRWA, and Galloway is stirring up the Jordan office. The Adcom [Administrative Committee] cannot take too detailed a view of the administration however’.[33]

Galloway’s monthly reports to the UNRWA director are characteristically direct and brief and contain tantalizing hints regarding local politics. In his August 1951 report Galloway noted:

The fact is that the [Jordanian] Government’s ministers know little about government. The whole structure is understaffed, partially due to lack of adequately trained personnel. Ministers work in small officers surrounded by “noises off.” There is an atmosphere of no money. Everyone feels the lack of the late king’s guiding hand, while no one can say how the new Regime is going to work out.[34]

Additional information is provided by the reports of the British Legation in Amman. The annual report for 1951 emphasized the deteriorating economy and the transformation of Jordanian politics in the aftermath of Abdullah’s assassination. With regard to Palestinian refugees the report notes efforts to reduce ration rolls and the attempts to persuade refugees to ‘build protection against the coming winter’ were ‘interpreted by the refugees as resettlement outside of Palestine and a surrender of the right to return’.[35] Galloway is also mentioned by name:

The director of UNRWA in Jordan Mr. A. Rohrholt, left in July and was replaced by Lieut. General Sir Alexander Galloway (formerly in command of British troops in Austria). At the same time the office was divided into relief and reintegration divisions and technical staff began to arrive for the reintegration division. Throughout the year continual efforts were made to win some local autonomy for the Jordan office but success was small and the control from the Headquarters of the Agency in Beirut still stifled local initiative. Relations with the Jordan Government have not been smooth, and the UNRWA continues to be found a useful whipping boy. [36]

This understatement cuts to the heart of the Jordanian relationship with UNRWA and holds the seeds to explaining Galloway’s downfall.

The Economics of UNRWA in Jordan

Whatever Jordanian political intrigues surrounded the assassination of Abdullah and the brief reign of Talal [37] Jordanian economic conditions were the key concerns for the British and for UNRWA. At the time of Galloway’s appointment UNRWA was one of the major sources of income for the Hashemite Kingdom as a whole, along with the annual remittance from the British Government. In 1951 UNRWA imports and local expenses accounted for 25% of Jordan’s total balance of payments, a figure that rose to 33% in 1952 and 35% in 1953.[38] In September 1951 the Jordan Development Bank was founded with 80% of the capital coming from UNRWA and with Galloway as a Managing Director.[39] The joint project with the Jordanian government and private banks was designed as a source of loans for refugees to launch industrial and commercial projects. By July 1953, however, a total of only sixty-eight loans had been made, affecting 800 refugees and 4000 dependents.[40] By 1957 the bank had only managed to attract 30,000 JD in private capital.[41]

UNRWA also contributed 8.7% of public sector wages in Jordan. This figure rose to 9.8% in 1953 and 12.4% in 1954 when the organization employed some 2500 persons.[42] In concrete terms the proposed UNRWA budgets for later 1951 allotted just over $3 million for area staff, as well as for 159 international staffers.[43] Though few in number, international positions were economically important. The sense that international staffers were being paid disproportionately high salaries was present before Galloway’s arrival. Hugh Dow of the British Consulate in Jerusalem wrote to T.W. Evans in the Middle East Secretariat of the Foreign Office on 13 March 1951 and noted that the high administration costs of UNRWA were based on ‘Lake Success allowances’ saying ‘shorthand typists employed by UNRWA are receiving salaries almost equal to my own basic pay’.[44] Similar concerns regarding the larger salaries paid to UNRWA’s international staffers were reportedly expressed by Lebanese officials and were of sufficient gravity to be mentioned in confidential briefings by UNRWA officials to Canadian Foreign Ministry representatives.[45]

Proposed budgets for 1952 saw UNRWA’s overall costs increasing to almost $80 million, representing a potentially lucrative source of income for the Jordanian government.[46] Control over employment was thus a key point of contention between UNRWA and the Jordanians. Foreign aid from the United States under the terms of the Mutual Security Act totaled $4.6 million in 1951 and Britain also lent Jordan an additional £1.5 million beyond the £1 million lent in 1949. Even so, Jordan’s sterling reserves were badly depleted. Continuing remittances from UNRWA were vital to Jordan economic survival and its officials were prepared to defend those interests.

UNRWA’s status in Jordan was governed by an agreement signed between the Hashemite Kingdom and the UN on 14 March and 20 August 1951.[47] The original treaty provided standard diplomatic privileges and immunities for UNRWA staff. Article III of the treaty also stated that ‘a matter of policy, and given equal conditions, priority in the selection of personnel and in the utilization of services will be given to refugees or to services operated or owned by the refugees’ and that ‘appointment of local staff shall be made upon the recommendations of an Agency selection board in which the Government shall be represented’. Additional articles governed rental of lands, payments for water, customs exemptions, refugee census, consultation regarding reintegration priorities, security, and the eventual granting of UNRWA property to individuals or Jordanian ownership.

Galloway’s report for October 1951 hinted of problems to come, precisely with respect to Article III of the treaty:

However, a slight misunderstanding arose between the Agency and the Ministry of Social Welfare on the interpretation of Clause III of the agreement between the government and the Agency which deals with the Agency’s Selection Board on which the government is to be represented. The Ministry endeavored to put a wide interpretation on this clause, which is perhaps not sufficiently closely defined, and thereby to introduce effective control over the selection and disposition of Agency staff.[48]

The treaty was originally signed 14 March 1951, but a covering letter dated 20 August 1951 from Blandford noted

In the light of the foregoing I have no doubt that Your Excellency and Sir Alexander Galloway will be able to work out a procedure for the practical application of the agreement, the signature of which will, I sincerely hope, be the starting point of concrete and profitable achievements for the benefit of the refugees.[49]

This is the one and only mention of Galloway’s name in a publicly available United Nations document. Coincidentally it occurred on a document whose parameters and ambitions brought Galloway and the Jordanians into direct conflict.

Galloway’s Downfall

Furlonge’s January 1952 report to London did not mention refugee affairs but in February he commented:

Relations between the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and the Government deteriorated over the question of the Jordan Government’s right to interfere in the employment of local and international staff. The Director General of UNRWA visited Jordan on February 14th, but in his interview with the Jordan Prime Minister was prevented from discussing the wider problems of refugee reintegration by this issue of staff employment which still remains unsolved.[50]

The March report noted deepening problems:

Relations between the UNRWA and the Jordan Government have further deteriorated, mainly over the question of control by the latter over the choice of employees of the former. The Prime Minster has officially requested the Agency to get rid of 13 of its international employees on the grounds that their jobs can be done by locals. Impatience with the Agency’s failure so far to produce sufficiently far-reaching schemes for economic development is probably the root cause; though the Jordan Government are still unwilling to assist in overcoming the refugees’ reluctance to accept reintegration.[51]

Finally, in April 1952, matters reached the breaking point. According to the report for that month ‘The Jordanian Government officially requested the replacement of the local Director of UNRWA, General Galloway, on personal grounds, which Mr. Blandford felt obliged to agree to. No replacement has yet been nominated.’[52]

In a letter to the Foreign Office Furlonge noted ‘My French colleague is particularly disturbed at Blandford’s acceptance of the Jordan Government’s request for the removal of General Galloway, the UNRWA representative in Jordan, for the same reasons as I have already voiced in my telegrams on the subject’.[53] No other telegrams from Furlonge have been located. But a cable by Knight gives additional details:

The Jordan Government has demanded the removal of General Galloway from his post of UNRWA country representative, Jordan. There seems no question that the General has been tactless in some ways, and is it not possible to refuse the Government’s request. It is, however, an unfortunate business and I am inclined to think that it is connected with the recent visit of Colonels Shishakly and Selo to Amman. Not long ago, two of the Jordan Ministers had in conversation told me that they wished Jordan to have as much control over UNRWA as Syria has, where our officials are at the mercy of the Sûreté. Recently also the Jordan Prime Minister had presented a demand for the removal of 11 international UNRWA officials for “security” reasons.[54]

The possible role of Syrian coup leaders Fawzi Silu and Adeeb Shishakly in goading Jordanian leaders cannot be assessed but Jordan’s economic interests were clear. Galloway is not mentioned again in British documents. Blandford’s archive could not be located. Published histories of Jordan pass over the event in silence.

Galloway’s formal employment with UNRWA ended 30 June 30 1952. But that was not to be the end of his association with the Arab refugee problem.

The Newspaper Article

On Friday 29 August 1952 Galloway published a piece in the conservative Daily Telegraph and Morning Post entitled ‘What Can be Done About the Arab Refugees?’[55] He was characteristically direct:

The Arab Governments dislike UNRWA and mistrust it. They know, of course, that without the relief programme there would soon be chaos among the refugees. There is some criticism of relief, which is understandable, and much criticism of the slow pace of resettlement.

The Jordanian population fear the settlement of large numbers of refugees in their country. But they are aware that it means the spending of large sums of money in Jordan. They want the cash. They want to spend it on schemes for the development of Jordan. If the refugees benefit from this arrangement, so much the better.

Galloway noted that Arab states hold the United Nations responsible for the refugee crisis but suggested approaches to actually solving the problem.

In Syria the Government is a dictatorship by which a number of much-needed and healthy measures are being inaugurated.

There is plenty of room for development. Half a million refugee families could settle on agricultural schemes with benefit to themselves and to the country.

This suggestion echoed UNRWA proposals but Galloway was frank about problems and potential solutions:

Like other Arab countries, Syria may not be anxious to take the first step in a programme which indicates acceptance of the fact that the refugees will not return to Palestine. In Syria the activities of the Agency are controlled to a high degree by Government. Local Agency employees are dismissed at will. Internationals are scrutinized and followed about by Security Police. The prestige of United Nations does not stand high.

Galloway dismissed the willingness and capability of Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon with respect to resettlement. He was sympathetic to the refugees noting ‘Some are working. For the most part they sit about, absorbing the relief provided. It is little comfort to them that they serve the Governments as a political stick with which to beat the United Nations.’ He also raised the potential threat of ‘Communist agitators’.

Galloway turned to UNRWA itself and, implicitly, his own role with the organization. He noted that in July 1951 UNRWA was charged with resettlement as well as relief. But his tone was sharply critical toward Blandford, ‘The Director believes in centralization, and deals direct with 22 immediate subordinate officials apart from frequent visits to Arab Governments and meetings with the Advisory Commission.’ From there he deepened his criticism:

Occasionally the United Nations country representatives are summoned to Beirut or discussions. During the past year I attended several discussions. They achieved little. Decisions were seldom taken, except to postpone decision, although much was often said about unity of effort, sense of high purpose, avoidance of the “Colonial approach.”

In Beirut and elsewhere to a lesser degree, some useless work goes on. Staff begets more staff. Plan follows plan. Typewriters click. Brochures and statistics pour out. The refugees remain and eat, and complain and breed; while a game of political “last touch” goes on between the local Governments and the Director, UNRWA.

Galloway noted that relief is delivered with in country by dedicated staff members ‘Many of whom are devoted to their work and deserve high praise, which they seldom get.’

These statements alone are remarkable, but Galloway was even more scathing regarding the refugees themselves and the Arab states:

What is the solution? Of course the problem is difficult. Refugee settlement, except under dictatorship, is a long, expensive business. Somehow or other the Arab Governments, the United Nations, UNRWA and some of the refugees have got to face facts.

There is a need of a change of heart and a better atmosphere. There is need to distinguish between a tempting political maneuvre and the hard, unpalatable fact that the refugees cannot in the foreseeable future return to their homes in Palestine. To get this acceptance is a matter of politics: it is beyond the function of UNRWA.

Second, a determined effort should be made to get the “host” countries to take over relief from the Agency, thus freeing it to get on with the much more important task of resettlement.

Interestingly, after this suggestion and praising the ‘fresh spirit of endeavor’ that could be created, Galloway added, as if by habit:

It must be kept quite clear in all discussion that the refugee retains his absolute political right to return to his former home whenever he can. Without this condition being implicit in any arrangement there can be no progress.

Galloway concluded that the problem of the refugees ‘requires to be dealt with on a higher level than within the Agency. Practically all that the Agency can do is to dangle a dollar carrot in front of the local governments and hope that they will bite. That process can go on interminably. It is of no help to the refugees and wastes money.’ He suggested a good faith effort to resolve the conflict as a whole but stated flatly, ‘At the present moment faith is completely lacking. The Arabs lack faith in the United Nations: United Nations lack confidence in the Arab Governments’ willingness to play their part and UNRWA lacks faith in itself.’

These were the last words Galloway published on the matter. Given his criticism, it is perhaps not surprising that UNRWA appears to have forgotten him. But Galloway’s vehemence was to find one more outlet.

The Quote

On 25 May 1953 in testimony before the Subcommittee on Near East and Africa of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Reverend Karl Baehr, Executive Secretary of the American Christian Palestine Committee stated:

The political picture within the Arab refugee camps is important to an understanding of the problem, and I must say it is of special significance to this committee.

In April of 1952, Sir Alexander Galloway, then head of the UNRWA for Jordan, said to our study group, and this is really a direct quote from what he said:

It is perfectly clear than the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront against the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel.

Then, by way of emphasis he said:

Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.

This simple fact has been more and more clearly demonstrated as I have on repeated occasions visited the refugee centers. Close supervision of the refugee centers is being maintained by the Arab League so that the presentations from camp to camp vary in no detail. It is only as one breaks away from these formal presentations that one begins to get individual reactions and varied opinions such as those expressed by the preceding speaker. And most visitors have neither the time nor the inclination to try to dig beneath the emotional presentations.[56]

Later Baehr added:

When asked what he felt the solution to the problem was, Sir Alexander Galloway in essence said: Give each of the Arab nations where the refugees are to be found an agreed-upon sum of money for their care and resettlement and then let them handle it. If, he continued, the United Nations had done this immediately after the conflict – explaining to the Arab states “We are sorry it happened, but here is a sum of money for you to take care of the refugees” – the problem might have been solved long ago. The Arab states would have had to do something constructive about the problem, or lose status in the eyes of the world. This way, said, Sir Alexander, the burden is on the United Nations and the governments that support the United Nations, and we are powerless to solve it.[57]

This extended quote presents a clearer picture of Galloway’s attitude toward the situation than the truncated one found in later presentations and deepens his Daily Telegraph comments.

Rev. Karl Baehr had long been associated with pro-Zionist positions. The American Christian Palestine Committee had been formed in 1946 through the merger of two previous groups. In the later 1940s and much of the 1950s it had an active program of lectures, writing and study tours, of which the 1951 tour was only one.[58] Unfortunately, there are no notes preserved regarding the actual meeting between Galloway and Baehr’s delegation.[59] A search of Baehr’s papers also revealed little. A proposed itinerary indicates their meeting likely took place on Thursday, 10 April 1952 in Amman, but no details are given. A separate piece of paper labeled ‘U.N. Office and Relief and Works Agency’ lists ‘Jordan – Sir Alexander Galloway, Director, Jordan Region’ without date or detail [60]

Further confirmation of Baehr’s account cannot be found. One of the participants in the April 1952 study trip was Roger Baldwin, the distinguished American jurist and human rights activist. His unpublished papers contain no record of a meeting in Amman with Galloway. [61] Archives belonging to other trip participants could not be located.

It was through Baehr, and not the Daily Telegraph, that Galloway’s angry words entered the historical record and were then garbled. The main casualty was the identity of the man who had spoken the words in question.

Chains of Transmission

Between 1952 and 1993 more than two dozen published citations of Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway and then his surrogate Ralph can be traced:

Table 1[62]

Source Citation
Toynbee 1952, p. 243, n. 6 ‘For criticism of UNRWA’s methods and organization see an article in the Daily Telegraph of 29 August 1952 by General Sir Alexander Galloway, who had been employed by the agency.’
Government of Israel 1953, p. 23 ‘”It is perfectly clear”, said Mr. Galloway, a former representative of UNRWA in Jordan, to an American study group in Amman in 1952, “that the Arab nations … “”It is perfectly clear,” said Mr. Galloway, a former representative on UNRWA in Jordan…’
Forster and Epstein 1956, p. 303 ‘The Arab attitudes toward the refugees may be best summed up in the words of Sir Alexander Galloway, a former UN relief director in Jordan who in April 1952 stated “…the Arab states do not …”‘
Khan 1956, p. 43 ‘”Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die,” said Mr. Galloway, former UNRWA representative in Jordan, to an American study group…’
State of Israel 1956, p. 15 ‘As Mr. Galloway, a former representative of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said in 1952:..’
Eban 1957, p. 228 ‘No wonder that Mr. Galloway, a former representative of UNRWA in Jordan, said to an American study group in Amman…’
Israel Office of Information 1957, p. 16 ‘As Mr. Galloway, a former representative of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said in 1952:…’
Israel Ministry of Information 1957, p. 20 ‘Mr. Ralph Galloway, a former representative of the UN Relief and Works Agency, said in 1952:…’
Pike 1957, p. 34 ‘As Ralph Galloway, until recently head of United Nations relief in Jordan, has said:… ‘
Anderson 1957, p. 243 ‘Ralph Galloway…until recently head of the United Nations relief in Jordan…’
Laqueur 1958, p. 246 ‘”Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die,” said Mr. Galloway, former UNRWA representative in Jordan, to an American study-group …’
Brickner 1958, p. 33 ‘In 1956, a former UNRWA representative to Jordan, Mr. Ralph Galloway…’
Hansen 1959, p. 8 ‘It may be noted that men like Dr. Rees and a former representative of the U.N. relief operation in Jordan, Ralph Galloway, agree that Arab motivation on this score is strictly political.’
Israel Office of Information 1960, p. 21 ‘Arab antagonism to any practical solution of the refugee problem is summed up by Mr. Ralph Galloway, former UNRWA representative in Jordan, addressing a group of American Congressmen in Amman in 1952:…’
Donovan 1967, p. 44 ‘The attitude of most Arab states toward the refugees was most precisely expressed in 1954 by Ralph Galloway, a former United Nations Work and Relief Agency worker,…’
Prittie 1974, p. 16 ‘Even more outspoken was the statement of Mr. Ralph Galloway, a former head of UNRWA, in Jordan in August 1958:…’
Sachar 1977, p. 558 ‘the UNRWA representative in Jordan, JR Galloway, stated bluntly …’
Plascov 1981, p. 254 ‘Galloway, Lt. Gen. Sir Alexander, “What Can be Done about the Arab Refugees?” in Daily Express, 29 Aug. 1952.’
Peters 1993, p. 23 ‘In 1958, former director of UNRWA Ralph Galloway declared angrily while in Jordan…’

Until 1957 Galloway was either named correctly or neutrally as ‘Mr. Galloway.’ Why then in 1957 did he become ‘Ralph Galloway’?

By 1957 interest in the Middle East had been sharpened by the 1956 Suez war. The Baehr testimony had also been republished as a fascicle in 1956 by the ACPC. Emphasis on refugees had been focused by a Beirut conference organized by the National Council of Churches, and appearance of an influential report by theologian Elfan Rees, Adviser on Refugee Affairs to the World Council of Churches, for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, called ‘Century of the Homeless Man’.[63]

The Israel Ministry of Information pamphlet for 1957, apparently produced in Jerusalem, is one of three publications that year to use the name ‘Ralph Galloway’.[64] Since this pamphlet is largely a duplicate of previous editions it is difficult to understand how such an error could be introduced. The parallel pamphlet issued by the Israel Office of Information in New York in March 1957 used precisely the same language as the previous year and only mentions ‘Mr. Galloway.’

A more important source naming Galloway as Ralph is a book by Dewey Anderson.[65] Anderson, a psychologist, had previously been involved with Nation Associates, a non-profit group that owned the liberal magazine The Nation. Publisher Freda Kirchwey had been deeply involved in Jewish issues and The Nation had a distinguished record publicizing the Holocaust and advocating for a Jewish state.[66] Nation Associates also undertook a pioneering series of investigative pieces on the end of the British Mandate, Arab collaboration with Nazis, and Arab refugees, some of which were published in the magazine and in pamphlets and books. To judge from Anderson’s references, it was produced during the second half of 1957. Anderson’s papers could not be located so the source of his error cannot be ascertained.

The other ‘Ralph Galloway’ citation from 1957 was perhaps most influential, a multi-page article by the Reverend James A. Pike in the Sunday 19 May 1957 New York Times Magazine entitled ‘Key Pieces in the Middle East Puzzle’.[67]

Pike was an important and unusual figure who had also been connected with Nation Associates. A noted Episcopal minister and television personality, Pike was an early advocate for civil rights, birth control, participation of women and homosexuals in the church, and a strong advocate for Israel. But in the mid-1960s his heterodox views brought repeated trials for heresy and then censure by his church. After the suicide of his son he turned to clairvoyance. Pike himself died in Israel while endeavoring to contact his dead son.[68]

Pike’s popularity was at its height in the late 1950s and early 1960s when he was Dean of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine and presented liberal sermons on a weekly television program. But examination of papers in the Pike archive show he used ‘Ralph’ in the preliminary as well as final versions of the article.[69]

After 1957 virtually all citations have called used Ralph and have introduced additional errors by placing Galloway’s quote between 1952 and 1958. Notable are Prittie’s two pieces on Palestinian refugees that are frequently cited as authoritative. Prittie appears to be the source for the frequently repeated assertion that Galloway’s statement was made in August 1958.[70] In the modern era only one scholar, the late Avi Plascov, correctly identified Galloway. His 1981 book on Palestinian refugees in Jordan was based on doctoral research undertaken in part on Jordanian and UNRWA documents captured by Israel during the 1967 war. But Plascov misattributes Galloway’s opinion piece of 29 August 1952 to the Daily Express rather than the Daily Telegraph.

In general the treatment of Galloway in Zionist propaganda and historiography has been shoddy. It appears that after 1957 a pattern of uncritical copying and recopying occurred, where one author would simply read ‘Ralph Galloway’ cited in articles and books and repeat it without checking the sources. Galloway’s out of context comment appeared favorable to the Zionist cause, and its repeated use may be regarded as a apologetics.[71] This was not a unique occurrence. A number of other quotes that were used frequently by Zionist pamphleteers and polemicists, most notably Azzam Pasha’s famous promise of a ‘a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades’, cannot be confirmed from cited sources. But at the same time, Arab, Palestinian and other writers – engaged in a pas de deux with Israelis and Zionists and undoubtedly aware of Galloway’s statement – pass him over in silence, perhaps understandably. Even combative journalists like Childers[72], otherwise not shy attacking quotes and data that appeared invented or excessively ‘Zionist,’ avoid Galloway altogether.

With the exception of Plascov, writers on UNRWA also overlook Galloway’s role and statement completely[73], as does UNRWA itself in any history or official document. This final omission is the least explicable. Only one UN document citing his name, the 1952 treaty between the United Nations and Jordan, is available via the UN’s online DOMINO document system. In personal interviews UNRWA officials profess no information regarding ‘Ralph Galloway’, nor any Galloway.[74] Whether or not UNRWA officials themselves are aware of the mistaken name is unclear, but the confusion provides them with plausible deniability when questioned about the quote.

Ultimately the reasons why Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway was transformed remain obscure. The result, however, has been to distort important aspects of the development of the international system supporting Palestinian refugees.


Misunderstanding the identity of Galloway blunts the importance of his 1952 statement. Galloway was no mere international civil servant or bureaucrat. His experience as a leader of complex organizations and administrator in highly political situations was second to none. Galloway was familiar with refugee crises far larger and more dire than the Palestinians, as well as related exigencies of conventional warfare and insurgencies. He had also contended with complex politics in colonies, occupied territories and between superpowers. What he had not encountered was a situation where nominally supportive states maintained refugees in that condition and where refugees themselves demanded to remain homeless pending an ever-receding chance for repatriation. Nor had he likely encountered an organization such as UNRWA which, as he implied in his opinion piece, was already in 1951 reinventing itself as a permanent caretaker organization.

Why did Galloway take a stand with the Jordanian government and express himself the way he did to Rev. Karl Baehr? Some speculations may be offered. His personality has also been discussed above. Galloway’s assertive manner seems bound to have created confrontation with Jordanian officials bent on exploiting UNRWA.

But another important aspect for contextualizing Galloway, and the early UNRWA experience, is the post-war European refugee crisis as a whole. The European experience Galloway brought to UNRWA, which must have seemed so fitting in prospect, developed in a wholly different context. When seen from the perspective of a British administrator like Galloway, who had helped facilitate the repatriation and resettlement of hundreds of thousands of refugees the context of escalating political tensions, the Arab states’ response to the Palestinians and UNRWA was simply intolerable.

In the European experience refugees were used in a tactical sense by Soviet bloc countries, to rid themselves to problematic ethnic minorities and to create a burdensome nuisance to fellow occupying powers. But in virtually all cases refugees ultimately went somewhere; the ‘hard core’ that refused resettlement was tiny and European states and others agreed to accept the burden of their support. Even the more than 14 million refugees created by the partition of India were resettled by that country and Pakistan, and all went on to reestablish their lives. Nothing like this occurred with the Arab states that hosted Palestinian refugees, or among the Palestinian refugees themselves. Almost the entire Palestinian refugee population was deliberately maintained – and maintained itself – as a ‘hard core’.

Manipulation and clientalism remain at the core of the UNRWA and its relationships with Arab states and the Palestinian refugees, and by extension the international community. Recent calls to substantially reduce the organization’s mandate with an eye toward its extinction have been met with bitterness from insiders.[75] Whereas in 1952 it was the Jordanian government that sought to preserve the political status quo and its economic prerogatives, in the 21st century UNRWA takes that task unto itself.


Lt. General Sir Alexander Galloway’s fate was to serve faithfully and with distinction and to receive little or no credit. Historians have downplayed his service in World War II, Malaya and Austria, and the omissions and distortions surrounding his brief tenure with UNRWA have impoverished historical understanding of the nexus between the end of the British Empire in the Middle East, the creation of independent states, and refugee crises. Galloway himself, however, persevered. In 1954 he assumed a position as a public relations director and manager for the Costain engineering and construction firm and retired in 1964.[76] He and his wife moved to Scotland in 1965 and he died in 1977.

Reducing Galloway to a footnote or polemic bludgeon is unfair and unhelpful. His insights regarding UNRWA and the Arab states captured something essential regarding the situation of the Palestinian refugees. Even by 1951 Arab states had usurped the refugee issue, as they had with the larger question of Palestine a decade or more before. The Palestinian refugee problem became a tool for regimes to use against their own peoples, each other, and the international community, to the detriment of the Palestinians. So it remains today.


We gratefully acknowledge assistance and comments from Correlli Barnett, Yoav Gelber, Michael Fischbach, Efraim Karsh, Martin Kramer, Benny Morris, Benjamin Schiff, Roni Gabbay, Don Peretz, Martin van Crevald, Elizabeth Wells and Caroline Herbert (Churchill Archive Centre, Cambridge), Andrew Whitley (UNRWA, New York), Judith Kent, Lisa Crawley (John Rylands Library, University of Manchester), and Sir John Graham (Ditchley Foundation). Special thanks go to Richard Mead, Myra Johnson, and to Sandy Galloway’s son, Bruce Galloway, and granddaughter, Sally Galloway.

This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ‘Copyright Holder’ for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 46 Issue 5, September 2010.doi:10.1080/00263206.2010.504554 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00263206.2010.504554)

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