Harry S. Truman on His 1948 Proclamation Recognizing Israel
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“As for your interest in the proclamation of May 14, 1948, any document or statement issued by the President goes through a series of statements to make certain of its accuracy and clarity of meaning. I continue to hope that a reign of peace will soon come to pass ...” HARRY S. TRUMAN.
Typed Letter Signed, Independence, Missouri, March 25, 1970. 1 page. With envelope with printed free frank. [7.25”x10.5”]
Harry S Truman
March 25, 1970
Dear Mr. Cohen:
I was pleased to have your letter of February 20, and to comply with your request for a signed photograph.
As for your interest in the proclamation of May 14, 1948, any document or statement issued by the President goes through a series of statements to make certain of its accuracy and clarity of meaning.
I continue to hope that a reign of peace will soon come to pass.
[signed:] Harry Truman
Mr. Benjamin Cohen
24, Hamaavak Street
Truman’s “proclamation of May 14, 1948” officially recognized Israel as an independent state. President Truman was the first head of state to recognize Israel just minutes after the announcement of a U.N. proclamation. Any mention by Truman of his recognition of Israel is extremely rare.
His action was controversial, even in his own party. After World War I, Britain controlled Palestine by League of Nations mandate. By 1946, Britain was under pressure to withdraw from Palestine because of attacks by Arab militias and armed Zionist groups. A special United Nations committee recommended the immediate partitioning of Palestine into two states, one for Arabs and the other for Jews, with Jerusalem maintained by the U.N. as an international city. The General Assembly approved the proposal and the British announced they would leave Palestine on May 15, 1948.
Jewish Americans lobbied an old Missouri friend and business partner of Truman, Edward Jacobson (1891-1955), himself a Jew, to persuade Truman to support the proposal. Truman and Jacobson discussed Holocaust revelations as they were made known. Secretary of State George Marshall and many national security experts opposed the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. But Truman acted independently and recognized Israel with his proclamation: “This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional Government thereof. The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.”
Of course, with the recognition of Israel commenced a chaotic refugee crisis and nearly thirty years of warfare between Israel and its Arab neighbors in the Middle East. Truman wrote this letter in 1970, hoping for the arrival of a “reign of peace,” in the aftermath of the Six Day War of 1967 and the first acts of Palestinian terrorism against Israel.
Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), Thirty-third President of the United States. A Missouri native, Truman was first elected to public office in 1922, winning a judge’s seat of the Jackson County Court. After serving several terms, Truman was elected to the Senate in 1934, and in 1940 gained national attention for his chairmanship of the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, which was eventually nicknamed “The Truman Committee.” Truman continued his political rise in 1944; he was elected Vice-President as FDR’s running mate. After only 82 days in the White House, Truman was thrust into the Presidency when FDR died unexpectedly. His inheritance was a world at war. Germany had surrendered, but Japan refused to give up the battle. Truman, in a desperate move to avoid having to invade the Japanese mainland, ordered the deployment of two atomic bombs. They were dropped on August 6 and August 9, 1945. Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. As President, Truman waged an undeclared war on the Soviet Union, drafting the “Truman Doctrine”, which proclaimed the United States’ willingness to provide aid to countries resisting communism. And the Marshall Plan sought to strengthen the European economy in the hopes that this, too, would prevent the spread of Soviet influence. He also brought United States troops into the Korean War (1950-1953). In addition to his cold war activities, Truman’s administration expanded the New Deal, and promoted Civil Rights initiatives.