web analytics
August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
US Marines walk a city street in Fallujah, heavily damaged by the fighting. (2004)
Netanyahu Says Making Gaza ‘Israel’s Fallujah’ Was Too High a Price
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau Sr. pictured in Turkish-ruled Palestine.

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.

Jan de Hartog

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.

Meryl Streep condemned Disney for associating with extremists while doing the very same thing.

In 1943, just before Yom Kippur, some 400 rabbis marched to the White House.

When Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September to make the case for U.S. intervention in Syria, he offered a historical analogy.

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: