JERUSALEM (Dec. 26)
The Knesset suspended its session for 15 minutes today when word was received here of the death of former President Harry S. Truman at a Kansas City hospital this morning. Knesset Speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu delivered a brief eulogy recalling President Truman’s vital contribution to the Zionist cause at its most crucial juncture in history. The Knesset rose and observed a minute of silence in the late President’s memory.
Former Premier David Ben-Gurion, one of the founding fathers of the State of Israel, recalled in Sde Boker today how President Truman had reacted with great emotion when he told him years after the establishment of the State in 1948 that the Jewish people would never forget Truman’s contribution to Israel’s independence. Ben-Gurion said he never knew an American President who showed such great friendship for Israel.
The first official reaction to the news of President Truman’s death was expressed by Foreign Minister Abba Eban in a radio interview. Eban said of Truman, “He helped suffering humanity stand on its feet and straighten its back again.” Referring to Truman’s post-war policy and the Marshall Plan, the Israeli Foreign Minister observed that President Truman believed that America’s right to play a crucial role in global affairs was implicit in the very fact of its great might. “He believed in the defense of the right of small nations to exist,” Eban said.
The Foreign Minister recalled how President Truman had opposed immigration strictures in Palestine in 1946 which the Mandatory regime imposed on refugees from the Nazi holocaust and how he backed the United Nations partition plan in 1947. Eban recalled further that Truman had been the first chief of state to extend recognition to the newly born State of Israel “and from that day on continued American political and practical aid to Israel.” America during Truman’s Presidency gave Israel economic help “in greater quantity than any of our own resources or any other assistance we received.” Eban said.
(Foreign Minister Eban sent a personal message of condolence today to Mrs. Truman. It was conveyed to the Truman family by David Rivlin, Consul General of Israel in New York. The message said in part: “I convey to his (Truman’s) family and friends my deepest and sincerest condolences. I always had great admiration for his personality and his noble and creative thought which influenced many others in the love of Israel and attachment to the most exalting of our values of spirit and faith.”