State Dept. – “Almost blocked the creation of Israel”

How the State Department almost blocked the creation of Israel

Nothing much has changed at the State Dept.

By

Director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

May 15, the day after the anniversary of Israel’s creation in 1948, is known in the Arab world as “Nakba Day,” or “the day of the catastrophe.” We can expect Arab militants to spend Tuesday hurling rocks and firebombs at Israeli passersby as an expression of mourning over Israel’s defeat of the invading Arab armies. Probably not many of the rioters realize that while Arab tanks and planes were unable to prevent the birth of the Jewish state, the U.S. State Department almost succeeded in doing so.

Documents I discovered in the research for my new book, “Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the ‘Jewish Vote’ and Bipartisan Support for Israel” (coauthored with Prof. Sonja Schoepf Wentling) reveal the State Department went so far as to threaten to incite a wave of anti-Semitism in the United States if Zionist leaders did not cancel the planned proclamation of the state of Israel.

In the end, though, the State Department’s bullying campaign was stymied — by a dose of old-fashioned American democracy.

* * *

The episode took place in early 1948. The Truman administration had supported the recent United Nations vote recommending the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. But the Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan and launched a war against the Jews. President Truman, afraid of the U.S. getting drawn into the conflict, began to back away from the idea of Jewish statehood.

“I have about come to the conclusion that the situation is not solvable as presently set up,” Truman wrote to a friend. The Jews wanted “a big stick approach” by the U.S. to implement the partition plan, but “we can’t do that.”

What Zionist leaders actually wanted was not American intervention, but a shipment of some U.S. “big sticks” so the Jews could defend themselves against the Arab onslaught. The State Department, however, persuaded Truman to impose a complete arms embargo on the Middle East. That move primarily affected the Jews, since the Arab states had little difficulty obtaining weapons from Great Britain and other countries.

Despite protests from Republicans and dissident Democrats (former New York governor Herbert Lehman, for one, said the policy was “giving aid and comfort to the Arabs”), Truman refused to budge. The administration rejected even a request for armored plates to shield Jewish civilian buses from Arab snipers.

The State Department also convinced Truman to support “international trusteeship” over Palestine instead of Jewish statehood. When the American ambassador to the United Nations announced this new policy on March 19, 1948, an enormous public outcry erupted. Thousands of angry letters and telegrams poured into the White House. Congressman Arthur Klein (D-NY) called it “the most terrible sell-out of the common people since Munich.” Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion denounced Truman’s reversal as “a surrender to Arab terror.”

Surprised by the fierce reaction, Truman tried to distance himself from his ambassador’s statement, blaming the trusteeship idea on officials in “the third and fourth levels of the State Department.” In fact, according to the documents I found, during the weeks to follow, the Truman administration — including the first level of the State Department — continued to promote that policy, and went even further.

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One Response to State Dept. – “Almost blocked the creation of Israel”

  1. babbazee says:

    The Sate Department never recognized Jerusalem as the Capital and they used to have a disclaimer on their site about it – when Obama took over the link went dead but I still have the text:

    Unauthorized: You are not authorized to view this content.
    this is where the link goes now

    it is in this post (and others)

    http://babbazeesbrain.blogspot.com/2008/06/abbas-temple-mount-100-islamic.html

    Straight From the State Department Website
    [SNIP]
    Jerusalem.
    Israel annexed the city in 1967 and proclaimed it to be Israel’s eternal, undivided capital.
    Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as their capital.
    Successive U.S. Administrations have maintained that the parties must determine the fate of Jerusalem in negotiations. H.Con.Res. 60, June 10, 1997, and S.Con.Res. 21, May20, 1997, called on the Administration to affirm that Jerusalem must remain the undivided capital of Israel.
    Congress has repeatedly prohibited official U.S. government business with the PA in Jerusalem and the use of appropriated funds to create U.S. government offices in Israel to conduct business with the PA and allows Israel to be recorded as the place of birth of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem.
    These provisions are again in H.R. 2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, passed in both houses on December 19, 2007.

    The State Department does not recognize Jerusalem, Israel as a place of birth for passports
    because the U.S. government does not recognize all of Jerusalem as part of Israel.

    A related issue is the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Proponents argue that Israel is the only country where a U.S. embassy is not in the capital, that Israel’s claim to West Jerusalem, proposed site of an embassy, is unquestioned, and that Palestinians must be disabused of their hope for a capital in Jerusalem.
    Opponents say a move would undermine the peace process and U.S. credibility in the Islamic world and with Palestinians, and would prejudge the final status of the city.

    P.L. 104-45, November 8, 1995, provided for the embassy’s
    relocation by May 31, 1999, but granted the President authority, in national security interest, to suspend limitations on State Department expenditures that would be imposed if the embassy did not open. Presidents Clinton and Bush each used the authority several times.
    The State Department Authorization Actf or FY2002-FY2003,
    P.L. 107-228, September 30, 2002, urged the President to begin relocating the U.S. Embassy“immediately.

    ”The President replied that the provision would “if construed
    as mandatory … impermissibly interfere with the president’s constitutional authority to conduct the nation’s foreign affairs.”

    The State Department declared, “our view of Jerusalem is unchanged. Jerusalem is a permanent status issue to be negotiated
    between the parties.
    [SNIP]

    because the U.S. government does not recognize all of Jerusalem as part of Israel

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