Acheson Explained Truman’s Stand

In a television interview several years ago, Dean Acheson, who was Secretary of State when Truman was in the White House, explained why his boss had taken such a strong pro-Israel stand before as well as after the establishment of the Jewish State. He maintained that Truman was probably motivated by “two considerations–one which he avowed very clearly and the other one which he did not avow very clearly.”

The first consideration, Acheson said, was the wartime Jewish refugees who “couldn’t go back to Russia or Poland…couldn’t go back to Germany where so many had been murdered.” Their resettlement was “our responsibility,” Acheson continued, and Truman tried but failed “to get our immigration laws made more lax.”

The less-clearly avowed consideration. Acheson said, was Truman’s “moral and emotional” obligation to the refugees following repeated entreaties by Eddie Jacobson, a friend from Truman’s haberdashery days and “a convinced Zionist,” who “talked to the President a great deal about it,” Jacobson’s ideas “appealed to the President very much,” Acheson said.

In the same television interview Acheson also commented that “Anyone who went through the period before the creation of the State of Israel and immediately after too, as I did with Mr. Truman, must now be perfectly clear that you can’t impose anything on those people. They won’t accept imposition.”

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