web analytics
August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


The Jewish Vote And The 1948 Election


President Franklin D. Roosevelt

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We had nothing against Travia,” Weintraub recalled. “And of course, the Palestine issue had nothing to do with an election in Brooklyn for New York State Assemblyman. But we were determined to make it into an election issue – to send a message to President Truman that if he abandoned Zionism, we were going to abandon the Democrats.”

“One of our people visited the offices of the local of Board of Elections and obtained lists of all registered voters in the 22nd Assembly district,” he said.

It was publicly available information – just not the kind of information ordinary citizens usually sought. Weintraub and his friends singled out all the Jewish-sounding names on the list. And then they went door to door, day after day, personally urging thousands of voters to send a message to the White House about Palestine by supporting the Republican candidate, Joseph Soviero.

The Soviero candidacy was a long shot, to say the least. Incumbent Travia had the backing of the powerful Democratic Party machine. Travia was also a rising political star – he would eventually serve as Speaker of the Assembly. Moreover, the 22nd district was as solidly Democratic an area as one could imagine – the only time in the district’s history a Republican had been elected to the state assembly was more than twenty years earlier, and then only because the GOP candidate ran unopposed. Soviero himself had run twice before, once against Travia, both times without success.

But there was a wild card in the political mix: the American Labor Party.

As election day approached in the autumn of 1946, the White House was feeling the heat. From assembly races such as the one in Brooklyn to congressional races in New York and elsewhere, there were troubling signs of a shift in the Jewish vote. And adding to the president’s worries was the emergence of the American Labor Party (ALP) as a factor on the political scene.

Corruption scandals involving the New York Democratic Party in the 1930s had alienated some Jewish voters from the party, but they still wanted to vote for Roosevelt. The American Labor Party (ALP) was created to give Jews the opportunity to cast their ballots for FDR without having to vote Democratic.

Dean Alfange, who chaired the ALP from 1937 to 1939 and was its candidate for governor of New York in 1942, was a prominent supporter of the Bergson Group, Jewish activists who lobbied for the rescue of European Jewry and creation of a Jewish state. In part because of Alfange’s influence, the ALP strongly supported the Zionist cause.

“By 1946, the American Labor Party was becoming more pro-Soviet,” Weintraub explained. “And the Soviets supported creating a Jewish state, as way of pushing the British out of the Middle East.” As a result, Weintraub became active in the party. “I had no interest in the ALP’s positions on various domestic issues,” he explained. “But they supported a Jewish state and I supported a Jewish state, so we made common cause.” He did volunteer work, distributed ALP literature on street corners, gathered signatures for ALP candidates to get on the ballot – “whatever they asked, I did.”

To Weintraub’s delight, the ALP threw a monkey wrench into the Democratic Party’s expectation of another easy victory in the 22nd District Assembly race by endorsing the Republican challenger Soviero over the Democratic incumbent Travia.

Although it was a relatively minor race in the broader scheme of things, even smaller races could be seen as omens of what could happen in congressional and gubernatorial races. The ALP’s role in the East New York race became yet another political headache for the embattled Truman administration.

Matters reached a critical point in early October 1946. White House adviser David Niles informed the president that New York Governor Thomas Dewey, the likely Republican presidential nominee in 1948, planned to deliver a strongly pro-Zionist speech to a Jewish gathering on October 6. Niles urged Truman to act first, since “the Jewish vote in New York is going to be crucial.”

On October 4, the eve of Yom Kippur, barely a month before the 1946 midterm congressional elections, Truman issued a statement in which, for the first time, he expressed support for creation of a Jewish state, although its size and other details were left undefined.

About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is the founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and coeditor of the Online Encyclopedia of America's Response to the Holocaust.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Jewish Vote And The 1948 Election”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Matt Lee of the Associated Press at the State Department press briefing.
ObameDeal Exposed: It’s not ‘Secret’ from Congress but not in Writing
Latest Indepth Stories
Silhouette of "hilltop settler."

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

Schwartz-073115

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau

Morgenthau’s speech echoes history, reprising his father’s role of speaking truth to power: FDR

Ralph Nader

By using linguistic trickery, Nader is purposely looking to confuse the issue of anti-Semitism

An estimated 1.5-million Jewish men/women served in US, British, Soviet & Allied armies in WWII

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.

The long ordeal of the Armenian Orphan Rug, held hostage to fears of angering Turkey, has finally ended. Or has it?

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

With generous support from the Egyptian Jewish community, the exiled family built a new life for itself in the Mafruza and Gabbari refugee camps near Alexandria.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-jewish-vote-and-the-1948-election/2012/09/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: