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Truman Reveals His Fight with State Dept. over Creation of Israel

January 27, 1956
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The controversy over the creation of Israel that existed within the United States Government during the 1948 United Nations debates on the partition of Palestine is revealed by former President Harry Truman in his memoirs, which will be published in next week’s issue of Life magazine. Mr. Truman writes.

“I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders–actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats–disturbed me and annoyed me. Individuals and groups asked me, usually in rather quarrelsome and emotional ways, to stop the Arabs, to keep the British from supporting the Arabs, to furnish American soldiers, to do this, that and the other. I think I can say that I kept my faith in the rightness of my policy in spite of some of the Jews. When I say ‘the Jews,’ I mean, of course, the extreme Zionists. I know that most Americans, of Jewish faith, while they hoped for the restoration of a Jewish homeland, are and always have been Americans first and foremost. It was a discouraging prospect indeed. As I wrote to one of my assistants, I surely wish God Almighty would give the Children of Israel an Isaiah, the Christian a St Paul, and the Sons of Ishmael a peep at the Golden Rule.

“The simple fact is that our policy was an American policy rather than an Arab or Jewish policy. It was American, because it aimed at the peaceful solution of a world trouble spot. It was American, because it was based on the desire to see promises kept and human misery relieved. As the pressure mounted, I found it necessary to give instructions that I did not want to be approached by any more spokesmen for the extreme Zionist cause. I was even so disturbed that I put off seeing Dr. Weizmann, who had asked for an interview with me.”

Relating how he was induced by his “old friend” the late Eddie Jacobson to receive Dr. Chaim Weizmann at the White House, Mr. Truman writes: “Dr. Weizmann came on March 18. I told him, as plainly as I could, why I had at first put off seeing him. He understood. I explained to him that my primary concern was to see justice done without bloodshed. And when he left my office, I felt that he had reached a full understanding of my policy and that I knew what it was he wanted.

“I was always aware of the fact that not all my advisers looked at the Palestine problem in the same manner I did,” Mr. Truman continues. “The Department of State’s specialists on the Near East were, almost without exception, unfriendly to the idea of a Jewish state. Like most of the British diplomats, some of our diplomats also thought that the Arabs, on account of their number and because of the fact that they controlled such immense oil resources, should be appeased. I am sorry to say that there were some among them who were also inclined to be anti-Semitic. I was never convinced by the arguments of the diplomats.

“On May 14 I was informed that the Provisional Government of Israel was planning to proclaim a Jewish state at midnight that day, Palestine time, which was when the British mandate came to an end. I decided to move at once and give American recognition to the new nation. I was told that to some of the career men of the State Department this announcement came as a surprise. It should not have been if these men had faith-fully supported my policy.”

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