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Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

I've discussed President Truman's role in the United States recognizing the State of Israel many times on this blog. Now, there's a definitive scholarly work on the issue. At Power Line, Ron Radosh previews his new book, A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of the State of Israel.
Strong opposition came from Truman's own Defense and State Departments, the Arabs, and the British who held the Mandate over Palestine. No wonder Truman claimed the issue left him in a state of "political battle fatigue." Our research uncovered the fierce fight waged by the State Department to prevent Truman from moving to recognize the new Jewish State. Their opposition began from the moment Truman became President, and increased in intensity as it appeared that he was leaning towards approval of the Zionists' dream.

The claim made by the head of the Jewish Agency in New York City, Eliahu Epstein, that the State Department was undertaking a "vast conspiracy" against the President, was not far off the mark. Among other things, we pay attention to the major argument against recognition presented to Truman by George F. Kennan, the architect of "containment," who it turns out was equally involved in attempting to reverse US approval of the UN Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947, that separated Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab.

It is our argument that had FDR lived and Truman not become President, Israel most likely would not exist today. It is a dramatic story about the many forces Truman had to deal with, especially his handling of the Arabs who insisted that the only acceptable outcome was for the Jews to live as a minority in an Arab state, the recalcitrant British who gave up their Mandate over Palestine and handed it over to the United Nations to come up with a solution, and his own Department of State, whose Arabists sought to undermine him.
Read the whole thing and then read the book (and if anyone wants to buy me a copy, please drop me a note!).


At 5:50 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think the attitude of David Ben Gurion was more decisive to the picture than President Truman. He saw to it the Jews declared their own country at the first opportunity and the rest was history. Jews can shape their own destiny. Benjamin Netanyahu faces a similar and just as equally consequential decision in our own time.


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