U.S. gift chronicles Israel relations

The U.S. National Archives gave Israel facsimile copies of presidential documents relating to the Jewish state.

The collection, ranging from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 to President George H. W. Bush in 1991, was delivered to Israel ahead of its 60th birthday celebrations earlier this month. It includes President Harry Truman’s one-page, typed recognition of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The earliest entry is 1937 greetings from Roosevelt to the United Palestine Appeal.

“The American people, ever zealous in the cause of human freedom, have watched with sympathetic interest the effort of the Jews to renew in Palestine the ties of their ancient homeland and to reestablish Jewish culture in the place where for centuries it flourished and whence it was carried to the far corners of the world,” Roosevelt says in the letter to the precursor to what later became the United Jewish Appeal.

Most of the documents are exchanges of thanks and support between leaders of both nations, but there are picayune offerings as well: U.S. Rep. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the future president, records observations during a 1951 trip to Israel.

“Ambassador said he had never seen such construction in any place. Especially malarial swamps been completely drained and a great deal of works done,” Kennedy writes. “Soldiers tough, rugged, cocky.”

In 1967, Perry Kallison, a Texas supporter of President Lyndon Johnson, writes to the president ahead of an official visit by Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and recalls a successful airlift of 75 Texas goats to Israel a few years earlier.

“These Angora goats did so well that another two hundred fifty Texas Angora goats were sent,” Kallison writes.

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