NEW YORK (Dec. 26)
Two more Jewish organizations urged President Nixon today to end the renewed massive bombing of North Vietnam. Mrs. Earl Marvin, president of the National Council of Jewish Women called on the President to “bring this holocaust to an immediate end.” The Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, in a statement issued in Boston, condemned the bombing as “A unilateral act of aggression on the part of our government that we believe will add to the violence and bloodshed in Southeast Asia and make the final achievement of peace even more difficult and remote.”
The Israeli film, “I Love You Rosa,” won first prize in the “Femina” movie contest here. The all-woman jury praised the film for its “many qualities.”
TRUMAN AND ISRAEL: THE YEAR OF DECISION
President Harry S. Truman trod a firm, if careful, political road towards the immigration into Palestine of Jewish survivors of the Nazi death camps and for partition of Palestine to create a Jewish State in the aftermath of World War II.
The President was beset by powerful opposition both at home and abroad. Within the State Department itself a strong array of top officials fought every move that would enhance the Zionist position towards both Jewish immigration and a homeland. In London, British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, whose hostility to Jews and a Jewish State increased as his ability to control events in Palestine diminished, bitterly assailed Truman privately and publicly. Arab leaders threatened American interests in their countries, even as now, if the President persisted in supporting Zionist aims.
Nevertheless, Truman pressed for both of his objectives. Soon after the war ended in Europe in 1945, the President sent Earl G. Harrison as his representative to the displaced persons centers in Germany to provide him with a first-hand report on them. To his consternation, Harrison found that many Jews were still behind barbed wire in the former Nazi concentration camps. The President then urged the British government to admit 100,000 of them immediately into Palestine but Bevin refused because, he contended, it would cause an upheaval among the Arabs and the British needed tranquility in the Middle East for strategic and economic reasons.
The year 1947 was pivotal for Jews, Arabs, British, and the United Nations in Palestine. The British desire by that time was to be rid of their mandate in Palestine but to maintain good relations with the Arabs in their withdrawal. In that crucible, Truman frequently took a personal hand in directing the U.S. effort towards meeting the objectives he had outlined more than a year earlier.
BEVIN CHARGED TRUMAN SPOILED HIS EFFORTS
Part of the dramatic history of that year appears in hitherto secret, top secret and “eyes only” messages and memoranda just revealed by the State Department, in “Foreign Affairs 1947 of the United States” which the Department coincidentally published consonant with Israel’s silver jubilee as a nation.
According to “Foreign Affairs,” Bevin was so irritated with Truman over immigration that in a speech on Feb. 25,1947, in the House of Commons, he charged that the President had “spoiled” his efforts just as Bevin believed his negotiations were on the threshold of success. Bevin disclosed that he had pleaded in the previous year with Secretary of State James F. Byrnes to dissuade the President from issuing his demand on the 100,000 Jews but his pleas to Byrnes were futile. He was told, Bevin said in Commons, that “if the statement on immigration was not issued by Mr. Truman a competitive statement would be issued by Mr. Dewey” (New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey whom Truman upset in the 1948 elections.)
“I think every country in the world ought to know this,” Bevin declared, according to the State Department’s record. “The House of Commons cheered Bevin’s attack on Mr. Truman’s tactics.”
Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who succeeded Byrnes, had told Bevin on Feb. 21 that “an increase in the number of displaced European Jews into Palestine during the next few months would have a beneficial effect among Jews in the displaced persons centers in Europe and would meet with public approval in this country (U.S.). It might make both Arabs and Jews more willing to look for a compromise solution.” But Bevin was adamant and immigration ships, including the “Exodus,” ran the British blockade to Palestine.
At the State Department, Loy Henderson, Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, consistently opposed both Truman objectives. His attitude crystalized in a top secret memorandum to the Under-Secretary of State, Robert A. Lovett, on Nov. 24, 1947. On that day, Lovett went to the White House, in Marshall’s absence in London, to receive Truman’s latest instructions on Palestine as a show-down on partition drew near in the United Nations General Assembly.
Henderson asked Lovett to read “in full” a “personal telegram” Henderson said he had received from Hamdi al Pachachi, who was Prime Minister of Iraq when Henderson was the U.S. minister there. Henderson then added, according to Foreign Affairs:
“I feel it again to be my duty to point out that it seems to me and all the members of my office acquainted with the Middle East that the policy which we are following in New York at the present time is contrary to the interests of the United States and will eventually involve us in international difficulties of no grave a character that the reaction throughout the world, as well as in this country, will be very strong.”
“I wonder if the President realizes,” Henderson said in his statement recorded in the “Foreign Affairs” volume, “that the plan which we are supporting for Palestine leaves no force other than local enforcement organizations for preserving order in Palestine.”
PREPARED TO SUPPORT PARTITION, IMMIGRATION
Henderson also was bitter in his criticism of Ambassador Heschel Johnson, the chief U.S. spokesman, regarding Palestine in the United Nations. On Oct. 11, Johnson, acting on Presidential instructions, told the UN that the United States would support the basic principles of the majority plan which provided for both partition and immigration. Two days later, the Soviet Union also announced for partition.
Truman worked cautiously within the framework of the United Nations in advancing the Jewish cause and indicated he did not wish the U.S. exposed individually. On Nov. 24, only five days before the General Assembly voted for partition, Truman told Lovett at the White House that he would be most reluctant to see the United States on a commission to implement partition in Palestine. According to Lovett’s memorandum, “The President reiterated his original position,” that the United States would participate in enforcing a plan for Palestine only as a member of the United Nations and jointly with other members. It would not be a protagonist.”
The President also expressed the wish that the U.S. delegation at the United Nations not use threats or improper pressure of any kind on other delegations to vote for partition, Lovett wrote. “We were willing to vote for that report (partition) only because it was a majority report,” Lovett reported Truman as saying. The vote in the General Assembly Nov. 29,1947, was 33-13 with 10 abstentions and Slam absent.
Why did Truman take the course he did? A secret message, telegraphed by Lovett to U.S. Ambassador 8. Pinkney Tuck in Cairo, which Truman himself initiated, provides some indications. The message, dated Dec. 26, 1947, a month after partition, was for Tuck to use in explaining America’s position to King Farouk. A similar message also was transmitted for Saudi Arabia’s King Ibn Saud. According to “Foreign Affairs,” the approach Tuck was instructed to use included the following:
“I) U.S. government decided after anxious and sober consideration to support partition in the UNGA despite realization of how strongly opposed Arab states were to establishment of Jewish State in Palestine. Its support of partition was not motivated by any unfriendliness towards Arabs or lack of appreciation of their concern in matter. U.S. government took position because:
“(a) after reviewing statements and expressions of policy by responsible American officials, resolutions of Congress, and Party platforms of last thirty years it came to conclusion that unless there was some unanticipated factor in situation the trend of public opinion and policy based thereon practically forced it to support partition.
“(b) Majority report of UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) recommending partition did represent new factor but one supporting Jewish State.
“(c) Public opinion in U.S. stirred by mistreatment of Jews in Europe and by intense desire of surviving Jews to go to Palestine strongly supported establishment of Jewish State.
“(d) Troubled situation in Palestine accompanied by British decision to withdraw made it evident that solution of this difficult problem could not be postponed.”
ZIONISTS HAVE NO EXPANSIONIST DESIGNS
Because Arabs alleged U.S. pressure in New York, the message took pains to point out that the U.S. delegation to the UN “was instructed that it should explain U.S. reasons for supporting the majority report but should not exert pressures on other delegations. So far as U.S. government has determined no undue pressure was brought upon other countries by U.S. governmental officials responsible to the Executive.”
The message also instructed Tuck to tell Farouk that “in any event it is considered that the vote of the UNGA reflected the belief that partition was the best of the solutions of the Palestine problem which were advanced.”
Cognizant that “one of the reasons for Arab resentment at the UNGA decision is concern lest the Zionists intend eventually to use their state as a base for territorial expansion in the Middle East at the expense of the Arabs,” Lovett’s message told Tuck to inform Farouk that “it is the conviction of the U.S. government, based on conversations with responsible Zionist leaders, that they have no expansionist designs and that they are most anxious to live with the Arabs in the future on cordial terms and to establish with them relations of a mutually advantageous character.”
Lovett’s message added: “If at a later time persons or groups should obtain control of the Jewish State who have aggressive designs against their neighbors, the United States would be prepared firmly to oppose such aggressiveness in the United Nations and before world opinion.’ Tuck further was instructed to tell Farouk that the American government “expresses the most sincere hope” that the “governments of the Arab countries will not attempt by armed force, or will not encourage the use of armed force, to prevent the carrying out of that decision” by the UNGA. Lovett said it was “my own hope” that Egypt “not only will set an example in restraint, but will use its great influence with its sister states to prevail upon them not to resort to actions of a character which may bring discredit to the Arab people.”
The message, written 25 years ago when the winds of the cold war were beginning to chill diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, also pointed out that “it seems hardly necessary to point out that there are in the world today powerful aggressive forces which create hatreds, promote violence, and result in chaos. It would be tragic if the forces striving for an orderly, peaceful and prosperous world should at this juncture allow themselves to be disrupted over the question of Palestine.”
Therefore, the U.S. government was “convinced,” the message concluded, that “acquiescence on the part of the Arab states in the UNGA decision on Palestine, difficult though such acquiescence may be, would remove Palestine as a disturbing influence in international affairs.” But that was not the course history took.