web analytics
May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A New York Election That Sent A Message To Truman


President Harry Truman

President Harry Truman

The British set a date of May 15, 1948 for their withdrawal from Palestine, and momentum toward a Jewish declaration of statehood grew throughout the spring. The White House was flooded with thousands of letters, telegrams, and petitions from Jewish and Christian supporters of Zionism, urging the administration to support a Jewish state. But Truman feared a declaration of statehood would lead to a war with the Arabs and pressure for the U.S. to get involved.

The administration decided to press Jewish leaders to indefinitely postpone the declaration of a Jewish state. The State Department’s number two man, Undersecretary Robert Lovett, summoned Zionist official Nahum Goldmann to his office on April 22 and warned him that declaring a state would cause “a general conflagration with terrible repercussions on the world scene.” Lovett threatening that if they did not postpone independence, “we will become very tough. We will wash our hands of the whole situation and will prevent any help being given to you.”

Lovett threatened to release a “White Paper” blasting the Zionists, which he said would “do great harm to the Jews in this country.” He told Goldmann the paper would have “grave repercussions” for Jews, since “anti-Semitism is mounting in an unprecedented way in groups and circles which are very influential and were never touched by anti-Semitism.”

Jewish leaders meeting in New York City the following week voted to support proclaiming a state and ignore the State Department’s threat. American Zionist leader Emanuel Neuman told colleagues that Lovett’s threat “did not have to be taken seriously” because “a presidential election [was] due in November” and Truman understood “the vast and bitter repercussions that [an anti-Zionist stance] would create in the American Jewish community.”

Truman was pulled in two directions at once: the State Department told him friendly relations with the Arab world were more important than relations with the Jewish community. The president’s political advisers, however, were focused on November. White House aide Clark Clifford urged Truman to support Zionism because the Jewish vote was “important” in New York, and New York’s 47 electoral votes “are naturally the first prize in any election.”

White House adviser Max Lowenthal warned Truman that if a Jewish state were proclaimed without U.S. recognition, Jews and Republicans would lead a chorus of protests. The administration would “pay a high political price [in Jewish votes] for it is especially important in a [presidential] election year…”

During the final hours before reaching his decision, Truman received crucial phone calls from Bronx Democratic leader Ed Flynn and former New York governor Herbert Lehman, warning about the electoral repercussions in New York if he abandoned the Jews.

When a friend asked Truman if he intended to recognize the Jewish state, the president responded, “Well, how many Arabs are there as registered voters in the United States?” The president answered his own question by recognizing the state of Israel just minutes after its proclamation.

For Bob Weintraub, Truman’s recognition of Israel was a bittersweet moment. “On the one hand, our goal was to use local politics to help pressure him to support the creation of Israel, so in that sense it was a moment of great satisfaction,” he explained. “On the other hand, the fact that the Truman administration clamped an arms embargo on Israel meant that the Jews were fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.”

Still, he can take pride in the fact that the Jewish activist campaigns of the 1940s helped plant the seeds for future American military and financial support of Israel.

And in a sense, the ghosts of New York’s 9th congressional district still haunt America’s Mideast policy.

Last September, the resignation of Congressman Anthony Weiner, who coincidentally also represented the 9th district, forced an election between heavily favored Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin and longshot Republican Bob Turner. Weprin was not only pro-Israel, but an observant Jew. The district had not elected a Republican in eighty years, and Democrats had a 3 to 1 edge among registered voters. Yet on election day, Turner beat Weprin by eight percentage points.

“Grassroots Jews sent the Obama administration a message from the 9th congressional district last year, just like the one they sent to Truman in the 1940s,” Weintraub told me.

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 “A New York Election That Sent A Message To Truman”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Tzipi Hotovely, new Deputy Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Hotovely: Tell the World ‘God Gave Israel to the Jews’
Latest Indepth Stories
Harris-052215

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

Shalev and Rabbi Levinger

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

MK Moshe-Feiglin

20 years after the great Ethiopian aliyah, we must treat them like everyone else; no better or worse

Sprecher-052215

Connecting Bamidbar&Shavuot is simple-A world without Torah is midbar; with Torah a blessed paradise

Many Black protesters compared Baltimore’s unrest to the Palestinian penchant of terrorism & rioting

She credited success to “mini” decisions-Small choices building on each other leading to big changes

Shavuot 1915, 200000 Jews were expelled; amongst the largest single expulsions since Roman times

Realizing there was no US military threat, Iran resumed, expanded & accelerated its nuclear program

“Enlightened Jews” who refuse to show chareidim the tolerance they insist we give to Arabs sicken me

Somewhat surprisingly, the Vatican’s unwelcome gesture was diametrically at odds with what President Obama signaled in an interview with the news outlet Al Arabiya.

The recent solid victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party produced something very different.

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

“…his neshamah reached out to us to have the zechus of Torah learning to take with him on his final journey.”

The gap isn’t between Israeli and American Jews-it’s between American Jews and the rest of the world

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Medoff-050815

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

Bibi0303.jpg

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.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-new-york-election-that-sent-a-message-to-truman/2012/09/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: