Truman Says U.S. Has Obligation to Promote Arab-israel Peace
Menu JTA Search

Truman Says U.S. Has Obligation to Promote Arab-israel Peace

Download PDF for this date

In his first major address on the Middle East since leaving the White House, former President Harry S. Truman tonight emphasized that the United States has the responsibility “of promoting peace” between Israel and the Arab states.

Addressing more than 1,500 persons attending the Decennial Celebration of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science at the Waldorf-Astoria, Mr. Truman warned that unless the Arab states and Israel “sit down and negotiate their differences, the present condition of smoldering violence will lead to graver dangers and new disasters.”

The former President declared that United States support of the establishment of the State of Israel was “not an act of favoritism,” but was part and parcel of American bi-partisan foreign policy in the Middle East which has been instrumental also in helping Syria and Lebanon achieve independence. He added that through the United Nations, the United States had supported the creation of the newest Arab state–Libya.

Mr. Truman’s address highlighted the $250-per-plate dinner in memory of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, first President of Israel and founder of the Weizmann Institute of Science at Rehovoth. Representatives of many United Nations delegations, scientists and civic leaders from communities throughout the United States were among the guests.

Other speakers included Israel Ambassador Abba Eban, Dewey D. Stone, chairman of the board of governors of the Weizmann Institute of Science; Harry Scherman, chairman of the Louis Lipsky Exchange Fellowships Foundation, and Abraham Feinberg, president of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science, who presided. Mr. Feinberg announced that the dinner had raised more than $300,000 for the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel’s center of scientific research.

A bronze portrait bust of Dr. Weizmann, the work of Robert Berks, noted American sculptor, was unveiled at the dinner and presented to Mr. Truman, a close friend of the late President of Israel, for permanent placement in the projected Truman Library in Independence, Mo.


“The future of Israel is an issue of great concern to many of us here tonight,” Mr. Truman said. “Whatever our religious faith may be, it is an important matter to all Americans. And I want to talk about it as it concerns the interests of the United States. As Americans, we look at Israel not only as a newborn and friendly democracy, but also as part of the whole Middle East.”

Recalling that John Adams was the first American President to approve the idea of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, and that Secretary of State John Hay encouraged the early Jewish settlers in Palestine in 19th century, the former President said: “The first bill for aid to Israel had bi-partisan sponsorship, including the late Senator Taft. American support for Israel’s independence today is the support of our whole people, and not the support of one or the other of our great political parties.”

On the subject of American assistance to the Arabs, Mr. Truman stated: “Not only as a government but as a people, we have long shown our sympathy for and our desire to help the peoples of the Middle East. Before the Ottoman Empire fell, American missionaries and American educators had established colleges and universities in those countries–in Egypt, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Turkey. These institutions of learning helped to revitalize Arab culture. Many of the leaders in the movement toward Arab nationalism were educated by Americans.

“When the Ottoman Empire broke up after World War I, President Wilson’s Fourteen Points opened the way to the Arab leaders to create new and independent nations in the area. President Wilson even sent a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, which helped to lay the ground-work for the future independence of the Arab nations. Our friendly interest did not cease during the period between the two wars, and after World War II, we used our influence to achieve complete independence for Syria and Lebanon.”

Mr. Truman concluded that the United States could never be “indifferent” to the fate of Israel because of emotional, political and spiritual ties. He noted, too, that “Israel, as a democracy, will stand with the other free nations of the world against Communism.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund