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Letter from Faisal: American Presidents and Middle East Conflict (Part II) | ODS

How Roosevelt Failed to Save European Jews
President Roosevelt failed to translate his much-touted sentiments into deeds about finding proper places to ease the burdens of the European refugees. He hesitated to change the rigid American refugee immigration rules [that allowed admission of 27,270 immigrants from Germany and Austria every year] because he was aware of the vicious anti-Semitic attitude that prevailed among the public. In addition, officials at the State Department did not support his effort to alleviate the refugee burdens. Furthermore, historians noted that Roosevelt during World War II and until his death while engaging the American public in a weekly fireside radio chat had never mentioned the word “Jew” in any of his talks with the nation.
Israeli reporter Renee Ghert-Zand revealed on May 31, 2014 of a “US National Archives finds historic Winton letter to FDR.” A letter written by Sir Nicholas Winton in May 1939 asking President Franklin Roosevelt to allow Czech refugee children in to the United States has been found in the Department of State records at the National Archives. In a ‘ 60- Minutes‘ broadcast on CBS in April, journalist Bob Simon interviewed Winton, who turned 105 years old on May 19, about his role in saving 669 children (most of them Jewish) from the Nazis. During the interview, Winton mentioned the letter and expressed his disappointment that his plea was ignored.‘But the Americans wouldn’t take any, which is a pity. We could’ve got a lot more out,’ he told Simon.
Following the broadcast, David Lanbart, an archivist at the National Archives and Record Administration who has family members who died in the Holocaust, decided to find the missive. Langbart managed to locate the letter, whose whereabouts had not been known for decades. The discovery excited many people, including Vanessa Fica, who co-produced the ‘60 Minute’ segment.. It was not until the late 1980s that the world became aware of how Winton, who was a young London stockbroker before the war, dropped everything to start up a refugee committee operation in Prague in early 1939. After working tirelessly to get children out of Czechoslovakia on kinder transports to England and Sweden, Winton joined the RAF when the war broke out. After the war, he settled down and started a family and didn’t speak of what he had done. The children he saved did not know who had rescued them, or were too young to remember..
‘Perhaps people in America do not realize how little is being and has been done for refugee children in Czechoslovakia,’ Winton wrote to Roosevelt in the letter dated May 16, 1939. ‘Is it possible for anything to be done to help us with this problem in America?… It is hard to state our case forcibly in a letter, but we trust to your imagination to realize how desperately urgent the situation is.’ Documents discovered during Langbart’s search indicate the White House passed Winton’s request to the Department of State. It in turn instructed the US Embassy in London to acknowledge receipt of Winton’s letter, but to “advise him that the United States Government is unable, in the absence of specific legislation, to permit immigration in excess of that provided for by existing immigration laws.”
Eduardo Eurnekian, Argentinean billionaire, and Baruch Tenembaum, Argentinean, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Wrote May 19, 2014 an article entitled, “A 105-year-old hero; In 1938 Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 Jewish children. He kept the story to himself for 50 years.” They stated, “Representing the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, we specially flew to the British capital to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, for his unwavering support to the cause of the rescuers in general and of Raoul Wallenberg in particular. In his acclaimed book: ‘Courage – Eight Portraits,’, Mr Brown dedicated a full chapter to one of his heroes, the young Swedish diplomat credited with having saved the lives of scores of Hungarian Jews. Regrettably, as it is well known, Raoul Wallenberg never returned from his life-saving mission, as on January 17, 1945, he was abducted, for some unknown reason but most likely following Stalin’s directives, by the Soviet forces that liberated Budapest. His fate and whereabouts are still shrouded in mystery.
Amongst the distinguished guests was a singular hero, who happened to be born three years before Raoul Wallenberg, painfully stressing the theoretical possibility that the latter, under normal circumstances, could still be alive. The living hero was Sir Nicholas Winton, at that time aged 104. He entered the residence sitting in his wheelchair, but otherwise, looking happy and alert, with a distinctive spark in his eyes. Sir Nicholas was born in London, on May 19th, 1909. He was the son of German Jewish parents who had moved to Great Brittan two years earlier. Their original surname was Wertheim but they changed it to Winton to make it sound British. Later on, they converted to Christianity and baptized their son. The young Winton started gaining experience in banking, spending some time in Germany and France. Back in London, he began to work as a stock broker at the London Stock Exchange.
In the eve of Christmas 1938, Winton was about to embark in a holiday trip to Switzerland but a call from his friend, Martin Blake, made him change his plans. Blake had been working for an refugee aide committee in Czechoslovakia and was asking for help. As a result of this plea, Winton traveled to Prague on his own and after a few days there he understood the urgent need of saving the lives of children from the Nazis. He started to contact various relief organizations in the UK, with the intention of sending as many Czechoslovakian children as possible to the UK. On November 21, 1938, shortly after the so-called ‘Kristallnacht’ (we don’t like the euphemism; it was a murderous pogrom after all), the House of Commons took a measure that would allow the influx of young refugees as long as they had a place to stay in the UK and some money as collateral. By then, the Nazis had occupied the Sudetenland and Winton realized what would be the fate of the Jewish children once the Nazis advanced over the rest of the country. Following a frenetic 9-month period, Nicholas Winton managed to evacuate 669 children from the Wilson station in Prague on trains to London. Winton was responsible for organizing these life-saving convoys as well as identifying British families who were willing to take-up the children.
For more than 50 years, Winton kept his story for himself and only by chance, after his wife Greta discovered in the attic of their house a briefcase that contained the list of saved children and letter to their parents, he acquiesced to make it public.For his courageous act, Nicholas Winton was knighted by the Queen in 1983. A few weeks ago, CBS TV program, ‘60 Minutes,’, dedicated to him a whole segment called “saving the children”. It was comforting to see how this great savior gets to the houses of millions of viewers. One week later, ‘60 Minutes’ presented a few letters from the audience, and some of them mentioned the fact that he should be declared ‘Saint.’ He might be 105-year old, but in his mind, he still has the courage and the energies of his younger self. He still dreams and he still worries about the state of things in a world where things are, as per his own definition: “topsy-turvy”. Happy birthday, dear Nicky!”
When Roosevelt sympathized with European Jews’ Plight
Roosevelt was elected three times for the President post and thus his administration extended from 1933 until his death in 1945. A few months before the 1936 American national elections, American Jewish leaders pressured Roosevelt to take forceful action to enable German Jews go to Palestine. He issued (August 1936) a critical statement about British immigration policy in Palestine and a month later urged the British not to tighten Jewish immigration into Palestine and warned that the United States "would regard the suspension of immigration to be a breach of the Mandate." Hence the politician president was placating Jewish voters in his country at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs rather than confronting his country's anti-immigration voters. Roosevelt was aware that a large majority of Americans were against allowing many refugees into their country. Thus the only solution for the salvation of German Jews had to be at the expense of those living in the Holy Land.
How Roosevelt Undermined Arab-Jewish Cooperation
The pro-Israel American writer, Joan Peters, revealed in her book, "From Time Immemorial," one of the many episodes that the Roosevelt Administration implemented against Jews by playing behind the scenes on Arab fears. She wrote, "In the early 1940s Saudi King Ibn Saud owed Britain monies. He reluctantly considered the possibility of borrowing money from Zionist sources, with British support. The British assured him that he might become boss of the bosses in the Arab world, and would work out, with Chaim Weizmann, a compromise settlement of the Palestine dispute. United States State Department officials were extremely upset at the proposal; the head of the Department's Near Eastern Affairs stressed the negative result of a Jewish ascendancy- a Jewish majority- in Palestine. He argued that Zionists could extend their influence and activities outside Palestine, suggesting the imposition of economic imperialism. Although President Roosevelt was generally enthusiastic about Arab-Jewish rapprochement, the Jewish loan was discredited. He sent a letter to Ibn-Saud full of assurance that no settlement in Palestine would be adopted without first consulting his great and good friend Ibn-Saud and seeking his agreement. State Department Officials were by that time seemingly preoccupied with wooing and winning for themselves the predominant role in Saudi Affairs. They wanted to eliminate British influence in order to establish a warm and exclusive American-Saudi special relationship [and exploiting the vast oil resources in the Kingdom."
Were there Anti-Zionists in the Roosevelt Administration?
Roosevelt's Secretary of State Edward Stettinuis and his senior aides at the State Department had moved firmly to a position of anti-Zionism by the early 1945. His undersecretary Joseph Grew warned the Administration, "Zionist activities in this country will remain the gravest threat to a friendly relations between the United States and the countries of the Near East until solution to the problem is reached." (Emphasis added.) Grew's remarks were based on a series of studies on Palestine that was carried out over a two year period by a State Department inter divisional committee. Gordon P. Marriam, director of the Near East desk chaired the committee, In January 1945, members of the committee issued a warning in their summary. They urged the Administration to consider Palestine an international territory and be placed under the UN trusteeship. Subsequently, on March 5, 1945, Colonel Halford Hoskins agreed with the conclusions reached by the State Department, namely that an autonomous Jewish commonwealth would anger the Arabs and lead to a mass Arab uprising. He too concurred that an international trusteeship was the best solution to the difficult problem.
At the same time that Roosevelt was timid when dealing with the “Jewish problem,” he was “the unknown friend of the Jews,” according to David Irving, a British historian. Franklin Roosevelt has a reputation of being the idol of American Jewry. And in many ways he was. But he was an idol with feet of clay. Roosevelt did the bidding of the Jews on many things but he also waffled badly on certain causes dear to their hearts. He endorsed the old 'numerous clause' on the Jews to a certain extent. Thus, according to David Irving in ‘Churchill's War: Triumph In Adversity,’ “'Roosevelt took active steps to prevent Jews taking over more state or federal posts than he felt they were entitled to. You can't get a disproportionate amount of any one religion, he had lectured Morgenthau. Concerned at the thirty percent of Jews hogging the entry class at Harvard, Roosevelt advised the university to trim the Jewish intake to a less blatant fifteen percent. He would remark in 1943 that he found understandable the Germans grudge against the Jews, that a fraction of the population swamped over fifty percent of the lucrative professions.'
It would appear then, that Roosevelt's public posturing over the persecution of saintly minorities was somewhat undermined by his private actions and utterances. Roosevelt was really not all that sympathetic to Zionist ambitions either. He preferred to solve the Jewish refugee problem by letting Jews migrate wither they wished rather than arbitrarily shipping them to Palestine. As he privately acknowledged in his conversations with Morris Ernst, an anti-Zionist Jewish advisor, the Zionists were less concerned with helping Jewish refugees than they were with re-routing immigration to a pre-determined political purpose and location. Free choice of relocation for the individual Jew would undermine that purpose. Roosevelt also knew that the Arabs of Palestine were overwhelmingly opposed to Jewish nationalist aspirations in their country. As he expressed it on several occasions, the Arabs were just waiting for the opportunity to butcher the Jews en masse. He therefore urged the Jews to consider alternative locations to Palestine. Finally, Roosevelt knew that Palestine had long been an Arab land through his conversations with Saudi King Ibn Saud toward the end of the war. He made a promise, probably worthless but revealing nonetheless, that he would never take any action inimical to Arab interests in Palestine. Considering the enormous influence of the Zionists in the Democratic Party, it is unlikely that Roosevelt could have held to his promise even if he had wanted to. But it is clear that unlike his absurd appeasement of Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Roosevelt did have a very cogent understanding of Palestinian realities and Zionist ambitions. His successors, who slavishly repeat every bromide that the Israel First Lobby feeds them, might be horribly embarrassed to know that their hallowed leader once wrote and spoke like Jimmy Carter (we will not mention Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer), only much, much worse. ]”
Why Truman was Pro Jewish
Michael Oren remarked,” Truman’s policymaking in the Middle East reflected the same blend of impetuosity and political shrewdness he applied to overseas issues… More vividly, however, Truman’s thinking on the Middle East was colored by his Baptist upbringing.” The latter description of Truman’s personality might, partially explain, his support for the establishment of Jewish State in Palestine. Truman commented about the Jewish status when Nazism had uprooted them from various European countries, “Everyone else who’s been dragged from his country has someplace to go back to, but the Jews have no place to go.” His adherence to the Bible readings led Truman to join in 1941, “the Zionist-minded American Christian Palestine Committee,” thus accepting the idea of returning of Jews to Palestine. Yet at the same time, Truman had shown his anti-Semitism sentiments. For instance his former haberdasher Jewish partner, Eddie Jacobson and his wife were never invited to the White House.
Initially, Truman was not supportive of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine because “’I don’t want to throw any bricks to upset the applecart’ he explained. Soon he relented and changed his opposition to help Zionists attain their political goals in Palestine. This change of heart was due to considerable pressure from American Jewry as well ass American Christians. For instance, Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute reminded the Christians that ‘the title deeds’ ‘granting Palestine to the Jews were ‘still extant in millions of Bibles the world around.’ Much of the press, even the New York Times, which had once excised most coverage of Zionism, was stirred by pity for the Holocaust’s victims to support some form of Jewish independence in Palestine. Polls taken in1947 found that Americans, by a ratio of two to one, were in favor of a Jewish state. Some of the most intense pressure on Truman originated not in the public sphere, however, but among Democratic leaders who warned that the failure to sanction Zionist goals would cost the party its majority in Congress, if not its hold on the White House,” according to Michael Oren .
Who Influenced Truman to Support Israel?
Yehuda Avner, who served Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol, Meacham Begin, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, was visiting America in 1968. He also carried a letter from the incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Eshkol to former President Harry Truman, who was living in his hometown in Independence, Missouri. The prime minister’s letter was drafted by Avner and it thanked the former president for his numerous actions in supporting Israel. When Avner arrived to Truman’s residency, the former president was on the verge of going for his daily walk and asked his Israeli guest to accompany him. Avner wrote about what Truman stated during the walk, “Very kind of Prime Minister Eshkol to send you personally to deliver his letter, and kinder still to give me such credit for your nation’s independence. But the man he really ought to be thanking is Eddie Jacobson, not me…. It was Eddie who made sure I kept America’s weight behind Israeli statehood when it was most needed…. Except for one time when he wanted me to see a Zionist leader (Chaim Weizmann) I was not anxious to see, in all our thirty years of friendship there was never a sharp word between Eddie and me-- and we had been through some rough times together, believe me. There was the Great War, and then our haberdashery venture, which was no howling success…. (“Harry kept the books, Eddie did the buying, and both took turns with the customers. The store opened for business in November 1919 and went under in 1934, crushed by the Great Depression,” wrote Avner)…. My patience was being drawn so tight I issued instructions that I didn’t want to see any more Zionist spokesmen. That’s why I had put off seeing Dr. Weizmann. He had come to the States especially to meet me. But Eddie was insistent that I see him right away. I told him that if I saw Dr. Weizmann it would only result in more wrong interpretations of my Palestinian policy. I’d had enough of that….. He (Eddie) knew that the fate of the Jewish victims of Hitlerism was a matter of deep personal concerns to me.
The extermination of Jews was one of the most shocking crimes of all times. Hitler’s war against the Jews was not just a Jewish problem, it was an American problem. I had been seized of the issue from the day I became president. And now things had reached a point when I wanted to let the whole Palestine partition matter run its course in the United Nations. That’s where it belonged…. I had that (statue of Andrew Jackson) in my Oval Office. Jackson is my lifelong hero. So when Eddie confronted me that day in the White House, insisting I see Chaim Weizmann, he waved to that statue and reminded me that when we had the haberdashery store together I was forever reading books about Andrew Jackson. He also reminded me that I had put up a Jackson statue in a Kansas City square. Then, Eddie said, and I remember his exact words, he said ‘Your hero is Andrew Jackson. I have a hero, too. He’s the greatest Jew alive. I’m talking about Chaim Weizmann. He’s an old man and very sick, and he has traveled thousands of miles to see you. And now you’re putting him off. This isn’t like you, Harry.’ That’s what he said. And I remember looking hard out of the window, and looking hard back at Eddie standing there, and my saying to him ‘You baldheaded son-of-a-bitch. You win. I’ll see him….. Dr. Weizmann and I talked for almost an hour. He was a man of remarkable achievements and personality, who had known many disappointments and had grown patient and wise in them. He put it to me that the choice for his people was between statehood and extermination. It was then that I assured him that I would support Jewish statehood…
Those State Department fellows (who opposed the president’s policy on Palestine) were always trying to put it over on me about Palestine, telling me that I really didn’t understand what was going on there, and that I ought to leave it to the experts. Some were anti-Semitic, I’m sorry to say. Dealing with them was as rough as a cob. The last thing they wanted American recognition of Jewish statehood. I had my own second thoughts and doubts, too. But I’d made my commitment to Dr. Weizmann. And my attitude was that as long as I was the president, I’d see to it that I was the one who made policy, not the second and third echelon at the State Department. So, on the day the Jewish State was declared, I gave those officials about thirty minutes notice what I intended to do, no more, so they couldn’t throw a spanner into the works. And then, exactly eleven minutes after the proclamation of independence, I had my press secretary, Charlie Ross, issue the announcement that the United States recognize Israel de facto. And that was that.”
The well known American Jewish author Alfred M. Lilienthal, author of, “What Price Israel,” wrote, “In the Summer of 2003, we have seen great shock and sorrow expressed about very angry and seemingly ‘anti-Semitic’ remarks in a 1947 diary of then President Harry Truman that had remained dust-covered and unread for over half a century until the Truman Library found it and released it to the public. In a July 21, 2003 article, ‘Truman did it to save his own skin,’ in the Jewish World Review, Sidney Zion laments with considerable rage that now the truth is out, and it shows that White House aide Clark Clifford told Truman he would lose the 1948 election unless he immediately recognized the Jewish state. Why the huge surprise that Truman's much acclaimed love and concern for the Jews has turned out to be a bitterly disappointing fable! The American champion of the founding of Israel made his pro-Zionist decisions far less due to his Bible upbringing or humanitarian motives than because of his political concerns to have both the Jewish vote and campaign money from wealthy Jews. Readers of the original What Price Israel? have known this for 30 or 40 or 50 years since they first read it. The truth was known then but was denied and covered up to make the existence of the new ‘Jewish state’ appear to be the outcome of both a religious and humanitarian miracle.
Several months after Roosevelt's death and Truman's succession to the presidency, a Reuters news service headline in December 1945 had declared: ‘Truman Clarifies Palestine Stand: Not in Favor of a `Judaic' State.’ The article went on to detail Truman's outlook at the time, ‘As a true American, he did not feel that any Government should be based on religious or racial grounds, and he was therefore opposed to the creation of a `Judaic' State in Palestine. For the same reason, he would oppose one based on the Moslem religion or a Baptist denomination. The Palestine Government, he felt, should be the Government of the people of Palestine, irrespective of race, creed or color.’ The article goes on to describe the position of the American Council for Judaism as presented in person by Lessing Rosenwald to Truman—and Truman's stated view was virtually identical to our own as anti-Zionist Jews! So, what happened to change Truman's mind so dramatically?
The names in Truman's time of Zionist American Jews who pressured, manipulated, or paid for the promotion of Israel include David Niles, Judge Sam Rosenman, Max Lowenthal, Abraham Feinberg, Eddie Jacobson, and A.J. Grandin. Secular or Christian Zionists close to Truman, such as Clark Clifford and Matthew Connelly, clearly made their decisions based on vote counting and campaign financing. Although What Price Israel? in 1953 dealt with many of these individuals, plus Silver, Wise, and others—there are resources today that were not available to me then or even later in 1978 and 1983.”
How Truman Responded to Arab American Concerns about Palestine
The New York-based Institute for Arab American Affairs released (August 1945) the letter it had sent President Harry Truman. The letter pointed out that Palestinians were hoping he would implement the principles of democracy in Palestine, too. The correspondence stressed, “Zionists are anxious to form a majority in Palestine, after which the conversion of the whole of Palestine into a Jewish State will be automatic. It is then and only then that the Zionists will concede to let the principles of free election and majority rule operate in that country. The position of the Arabs, in accordance with the best tradition of American democracy, is that the rules of free election and legislation should be given the right of way now, before it is too late.” Truman, the shrewd politician with an eye on domestic politics, failed to respond to that letter.
The rebuff did not deter the Institute from sending a second letter in October 1945. The Institute expressed its opposition for Truman’s request for unlimited immigration of European Jews to Palestine. The Institute insisted that his proposal was not a solution to the plight of European Jewry and that it supported the Zionist goals in Palestine. Once more Truman never responded to the letter.
When Truman expressed his Fears about a Jewish State
President Truman was sympathetic to the plight of Jews in Europe; however, he appeared not to be overly enthusiastic about supporting the idea of establishing a Jewish State in Palestine. During a meeting with AJC leaders and Chaim Weizmann on December 4,1945, Truman expressed his fears that Zionists goals in Palestine would establish a racial or theocratic state which would be contrary to America's idea of a pluralistic state. Also Truman lacking Roosevelt's political stature and clout had no desire to overrule the policy of his own State Department. He was constantly annoyed with what he believed it to be American Zionist badgering. The Zionists hoped that he would support their political aims over Palestine. The president responded that Palestine was not an American property and that the United States government did not have the right to dispose of it. Truman expressed his view, which he later abandoned, that imposing a solution in the Middle East would definitely raise the level of tension there. The president also stated that he no longer thought that it was prudent to support a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish state. Yet the Democratic president kept on vacillating because he wanted the support of the Jewish vote and money for the [1948 congressional and gubernational] elections.
John Judis, a Jewish American journalist and a senior editor at The New Republic authored a book called, “Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict,” which was released on February 2, 2014. It was reviewed by The Times of Israel writer Ben Zehavi.  The Israeli was tasked in examining Truman’s conflicted attitudes toward Israel and took aim at the pro-Israel lobby’s influence from the birth of the Jewish state until today, “This book represents Judis’ deepest dive into the topic of the Jewish state. Critics will view ‘Genesis’ as the latest attack on Israel and America’s pro-Israel lobby. In fact, it goes further than Peter Beinart’s “The Crisis of Zionism” insofar as Judis doesn’t just share his former New Republic colleague’s claim that the major American Jewish organizations are a current obstacle to peace; rather, he argues that it has always been thus, at least since Truman first recognized the fledgling Jewish state in 1948.
Judis writes, ‘Truman was a genuine liberal who had moral qualms about Zionism. He was also the last president to express them. But almost every American president since Truman has tried to find a way to improve the lot of Palestinian Arabs – through trying to get Israel to allow refugees to return and later by trying to persuade the Israelis to leave the occupied West Bank and permit the Palestinian Arabs a state of their own. They began with a moral and strategic conviction that something had to be done to right the situation of the Palestinians, but under relentless pressure from supporters of Israel (and after 1948 from the Israeli government itself), they gave up.’ Judis says this dynamic explains why, during his first term, President Obama backed down from his demands for Israel to stop settlement activities: This pattern of surrender to Israel and its supporters began in the Truman years…The underlying problem remains the same: whether an American president and the American people can forthrightly address the conflict of Jew and Arab in the Middle East, or whether they must bow to the demands of a powerful pro-Israel lobby and an increasingly rightward-leaning Israeli government.”
Michael Kaplan revealed ,”Judis was invited on February 11(2014) to speak in June at the Museum of Jewish Heritage about his new book on President Harry Truman’s Middle East policies and the establishment of Israel. But seven days later, Gabriel Sanders, the museum’s director of public programs, called to tell him the invitation had been canceled. According to Judis, Sanders, who declined to comment when contacted by the Forward, told the author that his book was too controversial. ‘His superiors got cold feet,’ said Judis, summarizing his conversation with Sanders. The author concludes that the U.S. role made a peaceful resolution of the conflict more difficult.
The book looks in particular at the role played by President Harry Truman, who has been seen as a crucial midwife in Israel’s founding due to his decision to grant American recognition of the Jewish state immediately upon its founding. The book concludes that Truman was, in fact, deeply skeptical of the Zionist enterprise, fearing it would produce years of conflict — but felt pressured to back the new state by a politically active Jewish lobby. According to Judis, what Truman actually wanted was a federated Palestine, incorporating Jews and Palestinian Arabs. “
Who Shared Truman’s Concerns About a Jewish State?
Truman's initial concerns that the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine would raise considerable havoc in the Middle East region was shared by Dean Acheron, who at the time was the under Secretary of State. He, too, was not supportive of the Zionist plan of establishing a Jewish State in Palestine and feared the massive emigration of [European] Jews into Palestine would lead to endless wars with the Arabs. George Marshall supported Acheron’s position, too.
Why Dean Acheson Opposed the Establishment of a Jewish State
Secretary of State Dean Acheson, unlike President Harry Truman, was not supportive of establishing a Jewish State. He rightly stated that, “to transform the country [Palestine] into a Jewish state capable of receiving a million or more immigrants would vastly exacerbate the political problem and peril not only American but all Western interests in the Near East [Middle East].” Subsequently, when he was invited to a round table discussion by President Lyndon Johnson on June 5, 1967, he reminded the highly placed officials that he was not in agreement with Truman’s strong support for creating a Jewish state because it was a recipe for continuous conflict.
What was Truman’s Initial Response Toward Zionist Pressure?
Truman was immediately exposed to the full force of the State Department's objections to Zionist goals over Palestine upon assuming the Presidency. However, Truman had to balance the State Department official’s objections to Zionism and his concerns to ethnic political pressures [i.e. Jewish or Zionist lobby]. As early as 1943, the American Zionists established "American Zionist Emergency Council" (AZEC) to lobby the United States government. It soon developed into one of the most impressive lobbying organizations of its times. Thus upon Truman assuming the Presidency (April 1945), he was exposed to the formidable pressure of AZEC, which annoyed him a great deal.
American Jewry kept on pressuring Truman to assist the Jews establish a state in Palestine. It made him state, "Jesus Christ couldn't please them when he was here on earth, so how could anyone expect that I would have the luck." Initially, Truman kept on resisting Zionist pressure to back its demand for establishing a Jewish State in Palestine. Jonathan Goldberg wrote, "In the late 1940s, British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin had been given to complaining bitterly about the power of 'New York Jews' who had the Truman administration 'in their pocket' and interfered with British foreign policy. During the 1950s, Secretary of State [John Foster] Dulles openly asserted the difficulty of making foreign-policy decisions that displeased the organized Jewish community."
The strong and well-organized Zionist lobby in America kept on pressuring Truman in the first year or two after World War II. He quickly was tired of their constant lobbying and expressed his frustrations in a letter to Ed Pauley, Democratic Party treasurer. The president complained about the Zionist attitude, "...They seem to have the same attitude toward the 'underdog' when they are on top as they have been treated as 'underdogs’ themselves."
The Zionist lobbying was even felt in the corridors of the White House. The publicity director of the Democratic National Committee [for 1948 election] Jack Redding remarked to Truman, "We have the Zionist Jews in the office everyday and the pressure is building up a terrific head of steam."
Then on September 29, 1945, Truman's vacillation was demonstrated in a clear manner when he met with AJC leaders and three days later he conferred with two American Zionist leaders, Rabbis Stephen Wise and Abba Hillel Silver. He indicated that he was opposed to a religious state, "be it Jewish or Catholic." But when the Zionists opposed, "Truman then stated somewhat disingenuously that he had no objection to the Zionist conception of a Jewish State,” according to Israeli Historian Michael Cohen.
How Truman Coped with Zionist Pressure
By the end of October 1945, Truman indicated that he had no objection for senators Robert Taft and Robert Wagner presenting a revised Senate Resolution supporting Zionist aims. However, the president informed (November 29) his Secretary of State James Byrnes that he was against the resolution because he believed it to harm the United States relations with Britain as well as with the Arab countries. When Truman expressed opposition to the creation of a Jewish entity in Palestine, American Zionist leaders resorted to the media. They purchased newspaper advertisement to influence the American public opinion. The advertisements reminded the Americans about the Holocaust and hoped that it would shame them in adopting the Zionist aims over Palestine. Despite Truman's reservations about the Senate Resolution, the Zionist lobbying succeeded in passing an amended one on December 17.
Also influential American Zionist leaders such as Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise were instrumental in deluging the White House and Congress with hundreds of letters and telegrams from various parts of the United States. The Zionists dispatched letters and telegrams to highly placed government officials and mobilized the American Jewry in collecting on behalf of European Jewish survivors and for the implementation of Zionist goals over Palestine nearly $100 million a year by 1947.
God bless America and its people. (To be continued)