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Truman and Israel

I don't think that one can truly understand the formation of Israel without reviewing Harry Truman's thought process in the recognition of Israel. Truman was a contradiction in many ways. He contemplated joining the KKK, yet he desegregated the military. He also made many Antisemitic statements, yet one of his dearest friends was his business partner, Eddie Jacobson. According to Henry Wallace, Truman said, "Jesus Christ couldn't please them when he was here on earth, so how can anyone expect that I would have any luck?"

Truman wrote in his memoirs, "The question of Palestine as a Jewish homeland goes back to the solemn promise that had been made to them [the Jews] by the British in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 - a promise which had stirred the hopes and the dreams of these oppressed people. This promise, I felt, should be kept, just as all promises made by responsible, civilized governments should be kept." http://www.mideastweb.org/us_supportforstate.htm

It took Truman a long time to feel this way. When he finally came to that conclusion it was against the advise of then Secretary of State, George Marshall, who felt that many Jews were communists. Therefore, Israel would fall under the influence of the Soviet Union.

It's easy in 2009 to proclaim that the formation of the State of Israel was a mistake. But in a poll taken in July, 1947, 65% of the American people supported the formation of Israel. http://www.mideastweb.org/us_supportforstate.htm

Was the formation of Israel a mistake? I don't think that we can answer that question today. I think that it has to be examined by eyes of someone who was fully cognizant of the choices in that era.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2009 01:51 am (UTC)
And by someone who remembers the horrors of the holocaust.
Jan. 10th, 2009 01:57 am (UTC)
Jan. 11th, 2009 08:41 am (UTC)
I don't think it was a mistake, I think it was a good idea. They just didn't take care of the issues first. I didn't write the post on politicsforum as well or clearly as I should have =/

A Jewish state is completely fine, and the location Israel does have the roots and significance. The problems though:
*there was already a group of people who have a religious history of conflict with Judaism and
*had their own non-Jewish cultural identity
--history has shown us MANY times that it's a bad idea to take an area with a group of people already there and say, "This is now Country X." There should have been more understanding and consideration with the Palestinians who were there.

*hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced to leave
--it was a bad idea because it created resentment and it was just wrong. Not a nice thing to do. It's moderately similar to the English taking all the land away from Irish Catholics, giving it to Protestants (mostly English), and making the Catholics essentially serfs on what was their land. Forcing people to leave their homes and into situations where the economic situation is strained at best is a sure way to create enmity.

*people said from the very start, "If this happens we will destroy Israel. We will not stop, we will not allow it to exist."
--This should have been dealt with THEN, but we're dealing with it now instead, at the cost of how many lives? When one group vows to destroy another (and has a history of conflict with said group) it isn't something to be ignored.

*the attitude at the time was very anti-Semitic.
--There was remorse because of the millions of murdered Jews thanks to the rest of the world not really giving a shit. People most likely saw Israel as more of the Jewish conspiracy and bullshit like that. It incensed a large enough number of people of the most idiotic kind, and that hasn't faded in 60 years.

That's about it.

As for WWII, it's infuriated/embarrassed/baffled me since I read Number the Stars at 9 or 10 that we didn't get involved earlier. I know that there was the mindset after WWI that we shouldn't get involved in other people's wars, but WWI was the one we should have ignored if any. The assassination of a diplomat is nowhere near as heinous as the murder of millions of people, and the number of soldiers who died from other countries...you'd think we'd have been moved to step in. And that Roosevelt turned away refugees and sent them back to die...yeah. I don't know how people could possibly start wars after WWII. It seems if there was 'a war to end all wars' it would have been that. Apparently no one learns though.

There's my novel for you.
Jan. 11th, 2009 08:49 am (UTC)
Truman wrote in his memoirs, "The question of Palestine as a Jewish homeland goes back to the solemn promise that had been made to them [the Jews] by the British in the Balfour Declaration of 1917

I lied, one more thing.

I can't take this as a valid reason for it, anymore than Russia had the right to any of the land it was granted by Germany. You can't *give* land that isn't yours. It would be like Britain giving India to Spain (hypothetical situation and in appropriate historical context). It wasn't English land, so how could they give it to Spain? And yes, I know we live on stolen land. Sadly 90% of our native population was destroyed and the rest we wrote off with alcohol broken promises. I don't know how it would be solved.

It was a stupid promise for the British to make and one they couldn't reasonably follow.

That said, what's done is done, and the important thing now is resolving the conflicts between the governments (if Hamas can even loosely be called any such thing) and trying to stop people from being murdered.
Jan. 11th, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
As I said, it's easy to reflect upon it today and say that we screwed up. I don't think that we did.

The UN partition plan, split it into two distinct countries. Had the Arab nations not declared war the day Israel was formed, it would have been implemented.

The land currently known as Israel was not only occupied by Palestinians. (Known as Arabs prior to 1928, there was no distinction.)

Where were the Refugees from Europe to go. They couldn't go home again. Britain and the US had restrictions on immigration. They went to what was the homeland of their heritage.

There was no ideal situation, but the formation of Israel was the best answer.
Jan. 12th, 2009 04:45 am (UTC)
I'm not saying it was a bad idea and I would have supported it then as now. I just strongly feel that a lot could have been done that would have prevented most of the violence that's occurred over the past 60 years. I hate violence, I hate meanness and cruelty and prejudice and hurt, and I just wish (for all the good it does) that this could have been resolved in a less bloody manner.

As an unfailing optimist, I think if moderates from either side would sit down together with open minds, and not be killed by extremists from either side, things could be resolved. I think America and the countries who participated in the creation of Israel have a responsibility to help with that. It seems the majority of others disagree though.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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