WASHINGTON (Dec. 30)
The State Department declined yesterday to challenge former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford’s assertions Tuesday that Department elements in 1948 undermined President Truman’s policy on the partition of Palestine and the birth of Israel and failed to inform either Truman or Secretary of State George C. Marshall of important opinions linked to that policy. ( See earlier story in Wednesday’s Bulletin.)
“Mr. Clifford as a private citizen has made his allegations.” Department spokesman John Trattner said in response to one of several questions from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency “I won’t comment on an historical record going back 25 years or more.”
Reading a prepared statement, Trattner said that the volume on U.S. foreign relations of 1948 published last month “includes documents that show in some detail the differences in view between the Department and the White House on the partition of Palestine and the recognition of Israel. Of course, the foreign relations series cannot include every relevant document. But we do try to select those documents which most clearly illuminate policy views (including differences of view) and decisions.”
Continuing, Trattner said that in compiling the 1948 volume, “two did look for a document Mr. Clifford referred to”– a record of conversation between Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett and Clifford. “However, we were unable to find it either in our own files or in Mr. Clifford’s papers deposited in the Truman Library.”
Clifford, addressing some 1200 persons Tuesday at a meeting jointly sponsored by the American Historical Association and the American Jewish Historical Society, said State Department elements did not abide by Truman’s decision of partition and that some pertinent documents were not in the foreign relations volume.
Apprised of the Department’s responses yesterday, Clifford told the JTA “It was all right for the State Department to reach its independent conclusions, but after it was made clear what the President’s decision was they should have acceded to that decision. In my opinion they did not,” Clifford added that he was not “charging” the State Department with “concealing documents” since it could not possibly publish them all, nor was he criticizing its selection. “I wanted to notify historians you cannot pick up the 1948 volume and find everything there.”