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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.

Comments

lux_angelis
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.
jellomarx
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.
lux_angelis
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.

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