Version of Truman’s Attitude on Palestine Question Challenged

A local Jewish community leader has challenged Margaret Truman Daniel’s version of her father’s attitude on the Palestine problem contained in “Harry S. Truman” Mrs. Daniel’s just-published biography of the former President.

According to Frank J. Adler, administrative director of Temple Congregation Ben Jehuda here, Mrs. Daniel erred when she wrote that her father had favored the internationalization of Jerusalem and that he withheld de jure recognition of Israel, after extending de facto recognition, because he was “concerned” about Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens and “felt that withholding this recognition was a way of guaranteeing their good behavior.”

Adler also contends that Mrs. Daniel was completely in error when she dismissed as inconsequential the influence of Truman’s one-time haberdashery partner, Eddie Jacobson, on the President’s decision with regard to the Palestine situation. Adler. author of “Roots in a Moving Stream,” a centennial history of his congregation published earlier this year, said in an article published in the Kansas City Star, that research he did for his book, mainly at the Truman Library, refutes much of what Mrs. Daniel wrote of the period 1947-48 when the Palestine crisis was at its peak.

Mrs. Daniel dismissed as a “myth” and as “absurd” any idea that Jacobson saw her father secretly on many occasions and used their long-time friendship to influence American policy on Palestine. “I don’t believe they ever discussed politics except in the most offhand fashion,” she wrote.

She also noted that it was her impression that her father was so angry with Jacobson for presuming on their friendship when he came to the White House to argue the Zionist cause on March 13, 1948, that he learned a bitter lesson and never again approached Truman on the subject.

JERUSALEM STATUS ALSO CHALLENGED

According to Adler, official White House records for the Truman administration at the Truman Library include references to 24 appointments in the President’s office for Eddie Jacobson; 13 of these are marked off-the-record.

In addition, Jacobson was with Truman on the 1948 election whistle-stop train for three days, and according to Truman Library sources, they engaged in private discussions, largely U.S. policy on Israel, Adler said. Truman referred to Jacobson in his Memoires published in 1965 as his late “great and irreplaceable friend,” Adler noted.

Mrs. Daniel stated that her father was determined to keep U.S. bipartisan foreign policy out of domestic politics and had made up his mind to withhold de jure recognition of Israel until after the 1948 elections and because he was also concerned about the treatment of Arabs in Israel. According to Adler, Truman issued a statement before the elections in which he promised de jure recognition for Israel as soon as Israel’s provisional government was replaced by a permanent elected government.

Mrs. Daniel wrote that her father deeply regretted that he could not persuade the Arabs and Jews “to agree to the internationalization of Jerusalem which was a key point in his policy.” According to Adler, it was true that the 1948 Democratic Party platform supported UN efforts to internationalize Jerusalem, and that the U.S. delegate to the UN Palestine Committee requested both Israel and Jordan to agree to internationalization on Nov. 24, 1949.

But on the following day, Adler noted, Truman met with Jacobson and discussed the ramifications of internationalization. Microfilm documents at the Truman Library record that Truman authorized Jacobson to have Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, relay to President Chaim Weizmann that the U.S. “will do the best possible to delay vote in the UN. Our delegation would vote with us (Israel).”

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