web analytics
March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 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
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Iran Says ‘Don’t Believe the Headlines’ that Deal is Imminent
Latest Indepth Stories
Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

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

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
Bibi0303.jpg

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

Charley Levine

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.

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

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: