American Jewish, Zionist Leaders Join in Mourning Death of Harry S. Truman

American Jews and their leaders joined their fellow-Americans today in mourning the death of former President Harry S. Truman at the age of 88, remembering him particularly for his support of the aspirations of Zionists which culminated in his decision, within hours of Jewish Statehood, to extend de facto recognition to the newborn State of Israel, making the United States the first country to do so. (See special supplement for additional stories on Truman and Israel.)

Among those issuing formal statements of sorrow were two American Zionist leaders who were actively involved in the battle which brought the restoration of Israel to the family of nations–Mrs. Rose L. Halprin and Dr. Emanuel Neumann. Mrs. Halprin, who was president of Hadassah from 1947 to 1952 and formerly chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency, said: “On this day when the American people mourn the passing of a beloved leader and a great President, some of us feel the sense of additional bereavement. We recall President Truman’s deep concern with the Jewish refugees seeking home and haven after the Holocaust and his untiring efforts on their behalf.” She said the late President “left his mark in history. May his courage, his innate honesty, his deeply humanitarian spirit serve as example and guide.”

Dr. Neumann, honorary president of the Zionist Organization of America, worked closely in the 1940s with Zionist leader Abba Hillel Sillel and helped present Israel’s case to the United Nations in 1947. He said “President Truman was one of the finest Americans of his generation and a true and powerful friend of Israel. He will never be forgotten but will live in the pages of Jewish history, evoking feelings of admiration and profound respect.”

A joint statement was issued by Mrs. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive in New York, and Louis Pincus, chairman of the Executives of the Jewish Agency and WZO in Jerusalem. They declared that in Mr. Truman’s death, “American Jewry, the State of Israel and Jews throughout the world have lost the man who had the vision to recognize the world significance of the establishment of Israel as an act of historic justice.” They recalled that it was Mr. Truman who “urged Great Britain in 1946 to open the doors of Palestine to allow the immediate immigration of 100,000 Jews still suffering in displaced persons camps in Germany.” They added that it was now recognized that Mr. Truman’s act of speedy recognition of Israel on May 14,1948 “was the single most important factor in world recognition of the modern rebirth of the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the American Zionist Federation, said that “Jewry and Israel have lost a true friend,” calling Mr. Truman “a man of courage, a man of action and a man of the people who understood Jewish needs and responded in historic term Israel and the Jewish people will never forget his support of Zionist ideals, culminating in the dramatic act of recognition of the State of Israel.”

Robert Nathan, who served as a liaison with President Truman’s personal representative, Gen. John Hildring when Israel’s case was under consideration at the United Nations, called Mr. Truman “a very staunch and firm supporter of Israel” a leader to whom Israel owes “a great deal of gratitude” for the positive role he undertook in the creation of Israel.

Human L. Weisman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, declared that “Zionists, indeed all of world Jewry, remember and revere” Mr. Truman’s “courageous statesmanship as President, in the face of powerful opposition, which played so pivotal a role in the struggle for Jewish Statehood. His humanitarian efforts to rescue the survivors of the Holocaust were a symbolic initiative that broke the conspiracy of silence surrounding the Nazis’ genocide of European Jews.”

David M. Blumberg, president of B’nai B’rith, called Mr. Truman a “People’s President, a man of the people, and for the people.” In the critical days before the establishment of Israel, Blumberg said, the former President was “a pillar of integrity in the welter of power politics and special pleading that surrounded him and he kept America true to its noblest traditions in world affairs.”

Philip E. Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee, said Americans trusted President Truman because they knew that “he had no other motive than the welfare of all its citizens. American Jews can never forget how President Truman” quickly extended recognition to the newborn Israel. “But beyond anything else was his broad sympathy for and understanding of the aspirations of all men, wherever they were born and wherever they lived.”

Seymour Graubard, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, declared that in Mr. Truman “the people had a true champion and the country a leader of wisdom, courage, decisiveness and humility,” a leader who gave impetus to civil rights as the first President “to inventory the national civil rights structure, an inventory which laid the foundation for the unprecedented progress that has followed.”

Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, president of the (Reform) Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said the late President was “a plucky warrior against tyranny, a true friend of Israel and of all mankind,” and, above all, “an enduring symbol of what the power of moral leadership la the White House can mean.”

Rabbi David Polish, president of the (Reforn) Central Conference of American Rabbis, said that Mr. Truman “at one of the most critical points in thousands of years of Jewish history” placed “the full weight of his convictions behind American support for the creation of a Jewish State,” a “noble act” for which Jewish history “will always remember him.”

Harold Ostroff, president of the Workman’s Circle, declared that Mr. Truman was not only the first to recognize Israel but also the first to advocate Israel’s “strengthening and growth against the advice of other Great Powers. He will be remembered by history as a great President. He will be remembered by the citizens of the free world as their friend.”

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