JTA Archives: May, 1948


Jewish State Will Be Proclaimed Today; Proclamation Goes into Effect at Midnight

TEL AVIV, May 13, 1948 (JTA) – The 37-member Jewish national administration today decided to proclaim the Jewish state and the provisional Jewish government tomorrow afternoon. The proclamation will take effect immediately after midnight Friday when the British Mandate ends.

The proclamation will be made at a ceremonial session of the Council to which prominent guests have been invited. On Sunday, following the Sabbath, the first official gazette of the Jewish government will be issued. It will list the members of the government and will put into official effect regulations concerning mobilization and taxes. Another of the first acts of the government will be the placing into operation of a postal system and applying to the International Postal Union for membership.

The decision to call the Provisional Council of Government into session a day before the termination of the Palestine Mandate was reached after an eight-hour session of the administration, composed of the same members as the projected Council, at which Moshe Shertok, Foreign Minister-designate, reported on the most recent developments at Lake Success. He explained the reasons for the American shift on Jewish State.


Haganah Marches Into Jaffa; Coastal Strip Put Under British Military Occupation

TEL AVIV, May 13, 1948 (JTA) – The first units of the Haganah began marching into Jaffa at 2 P.M. today to take over control of the port following the conclusion of an agreement between the Haganah high command and an Arab emergency committee. The agreement, which followed day-long negotiations yesterday and a four-hour session today, gave the Haganah commander control of the city. All arms and communication in the city will be right to arrest anyone threatening the peace of the city. The entire male population of the city will be subjected to an identification procedure.

British military commander Lt. Gordon H.A. MacMillan has proclaimed the entire Palestine coastal strip from Acre to the Egyptian border under British occupation. The chief question asked by Haganah leaders is whether the proclamation will interfere with the Haganah movement to counter invasion from Egypt in the south and Syria in the north. Latest reports state that the Jews again have complete mastery of all read communications against Arab attack, but British curfew regulations already interfere materially with Haganah operations at night.

There is mounting realization here that next week will see the acid test for the Palestine Jews, and that what happened during the past month is no real guide to the future. At every hand there is the feeling that war is coming on in earnest. The total mobilization order by Haganah, canceling all occupational deferments except those involving the essential services, goes into operation today.


Truman Mum on Question of American Recognition of Jewish State, Dodges Issue

WASHINGTON, May 13, 1948 (JTA) – President Truman told his press conference today that he would cross that “bridge when he comes to it” when asked if this government plans to recognize the new Jewish state in Palestine when the British Mandate ends. He said that he and Secretary of State George C. Marshall had discussed the Palestine question and other natters at their regular meeting yesterday.

A State Department official denied that Marshall had given Moshe Shertok a note to David Ben Gurion, premier-designate of the Jewish state, as was reported yesterday. What probably happened, the official declared, is that Marshall conveyed an oral message to Shertok who relayed it to Ben Gurion.

Meanwhile, a resolution calling for the amendment of the Neutrality Act, which would preserve the citizenship of Americans who “became members of an armed force made available to the United Nations, or of any other military organization designed to carry out the Palestine partition resolution,” was introduced last night into the Senate and the House by Senator Warren Magnuson and Rep. Andrew L. Somers, respectively.

Prompt American recognition of the existing Jewish state as the lawful authority over such areas under its control within the original boundaries of Palestine as fixed by the Mandate “should form the basis of U.S. foreign policy with regard to the Middle East,” an “Emergency Conference to Propose a United States Policy for Palestine and the Middle East,” which met here this week-end, recommended today. The parley was sponsored by the American League for a Free Palestine.


Overwhelming Majority of Palestine Jews Committed to U.S., Congressional Report Says

WASHINGTON, May 13, 1948 (JTA) – “The overwhelming majority of the Palestine Jews and members of the Jewish Agency are spiritually and materially committed to the United States,” a Congressional sub-committee report released yesterday declared. The report, on Communism in the Near East, is based on a trip last summer to that region by a sub-committee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, two of whose members – Reps. Frances Bolton of Ohio and Chester Merror of New Hampshire – visited Palestine.

“Jewish Palestine is normally not a fertile field for Communism,” the report continued, because it is antithetical to Zionism, “an intensely nationalistic movement.” Asserting that most of the present Palestinian Communists held that philosophy before they came to Palestine, the document stated that “all others realize that Soviet control or domination would shatter their dream of a national independent state.”

Analyzing Communist strength in the country, the sub-committee wrote that there are five groups “that are in varying degrees under Communist control or exhibit Communist sympathies.” The groups, which the report said “find themselves in opposition to the Jewish Agency,” are: the Jewish Communist Party, with an estimated 1,500 members; Communist Union, 500 members; Hashomer Hatzair, 10,000 members; Irgun Zvai Leumi, 5,000 members; and Stern Group, 1,000 members. The Hashomer Hatzair is characterized as not under foreign domination, while the Irgun is “rumored to have officially made a deal with the Communists last September,” and the Sternists are under “suspicion” of having established a “practical working basis” with the Communists last fall. However, the report also asserted that Communist efforts to “infiltrate” the Histadruth “have met with signal failure.”


Dr. Chaim Weizmann Elected President of Israel; Arab Attacks Continue

TEL AVIV, May 16, 1948 (JTA) – The armies of five Arab states were today pressing against Jewish settlements in outlying districts of Israel in the second day of their invasion of the new Jewish state. Late tonight Dr. Chaim Weizmann was elected President of the Provisional Government of Israel at a special session of the 37-member National Council.

Reports from other fronts revealed that Acre, the Arab city across the bay from Haifa, which was not included in the Jewish area under the United Nations partition decision, was at the point of capitulating to the forces of the Haganah. On the northern front, where the Lebanese penetrated the Israeli border for a distance of approximately one mile yesterday, the Jews were holding firm. Along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv supply route, the Jews strengthened their control of the strategic highway by occupying several more Arab towns. However, Arab forces today shelled the western suburbs of Jerusalem, and unconfirmed reports stated that there was fighting in the city itself.

The Egyptian force, which occupied all-Arab Gaza yesterday, in the area of southern Palestine given to the Arabs by the U.N., today fanned out in the direction of Jewish settlements in the Negev. At least five persons were killed in Nirvim when an Egyptian air squadron bombed the settlement, an Egyptian mortarized column shelled it and Egyptian regular forces closed in on foot. When last heard from, the settlers were still holding out. Iraqi reports placed their troops in eastern Palestine, north of Transjordan Arab Legion positions in the vicinity of Jericho. The fifth invading army, the Syrian, was reported driving down from the northeastern shoulder of Galilee. None are believed to have penetrated far.

At least five persons wore killed this afternoon in Tel Aviv, which saw its eighth air raid in two days. Two more Egyptian Spitfires were shot down by Jewish anti-aircraft guns today. The pilot of the plane downed by the Haganah yesterday was definitely identified as an Egyptian. While most of yesterday bombs fell on the outskirts of the city, today’s missiles were directed at the crowded port area.

Jewish Government Asks U.N. Nations for Recognition

TEL AVIV, May 16, 1948 (JTA) – Moshe Shertok, Foreign Minister of Israel, told a press conference that the Jewish Government will apply to the 58 member states of the U.N. for recognition. He added that other nations will also be asked to take similar action, and that the list would include Britain. It was also announced that Guatemala has already recognized the government.

The first Official Gazette, issued today, described the war against Arab invasion, immigration and building the state as the immediate triple task of the new government. All citizens were urged to rally around their government “in the hour of supreme test” and were warned that there would be “blood and tears, sacrifice of property and lives, toil and work” before success crowned the efforts of the Jewish people. However, it also declared that we are not standing alone, “We are supported by the people of the Diaspora and behind is the conscience of civilized humanity.”

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