web analytics
March 4, 2015 / 13 Adar , 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 founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., and author of 14 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. His latest book is 'FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,' available from Amazon.


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
Pelosi turns her back on Netanyahu and Congress.
Netanyahu Says Israel Can Stand Alone – and Pelosi Turns her Back [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Edith Keeler Star Trek

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, calling for rejection of a bad nuclear deal with Iran, on March 03, 2015.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Open Tent

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

Game of Groans

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

Obama’s real problem is that he knows Netanyahu has more credibility on the Iran issue than he does.

Kristof’s op-ed “The Human Stain” was flawed and wrong; more than anti-Israel, it was anti-Semitic.

“Remember what Amalek did to you on your journey after you left Egypt-how undeterred by fear of G-d”

Stalin’s plan for the Soviet’s “final solution of the Jewish question” was totally assimilating them

Many Jews oppose the speech fearing it will further erode relations between Israel & US. I disagree.

The University of Georgia Student Government Association called for more investment in Israel.

Without an alliance comparable to ISIS, Al Qaida & Iran, militant Islam will conquer the Middle East

Ultimately, Esther, Netanyahu, and we, the Jewish people, must and will rely on the true King, God, for our salvation from this genocidal threat.

Netanyahu addresses a clear, present & lethal threat to the US/Israel/WORLD; NOT political bickering

Buried in the tax-returns of the JCF is millions of dollars funneled to NIF in the last few years.

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Charley Levine

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

Armenian Orphan Rug

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.

While grateful not to be returned to Germany, the passengers understood they were still in the middle of a danger zone.

These “Jewish Amazons” were living proof of the failure of the enemies of the Jewish people.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

Sulzberger, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust.

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: