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Forrestal’s Favorable Views on Israel Revealed by Elath

The late Secretary of Defense, James V. Forrestal, who–as his diaries disclose–was in 1948 opposed to Jewish interests in Palestine, changed his mind a year later and expressed his admiration of Israel’s military achievements, it was revealed in a statement by Eliahu Elath, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, published in the New York Herald Tribune.

Ambassador Elath, who is now Israel’s envoy to Britain, says that on January 24, 1949, Sec. Forrestal invited him to breakfast at his home where they had a long informal talk on Palestine affairs. “Mr. Forrestal expressed his admiration of Israel’s military achievements, which he said proved the strength of our people’s desire and need for independence. He asked many questions, indicating keen interest in the subject and desire to approach it objectively,” Mr. Elath reveals.

A month later, on February 24, 1949, Sec. Forrestal telephoned Mr. Elath and congratulated him on his appointment as Israel’s first Ambassador to the United States. “He added that since seeing me he had found his earlier misgivings regarding Israel had been largely dissipated as a result of his closer study of the facts,” Mr. Elath states. “He said he would write to me shortly, but I never received the letter and soon afterward he fell a victim to the illness which was to cause his tragic death.”