Importance of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, Eddie Jacobson and Clark Clifford
“The year was 1948. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, had arrived in New York from London to meet with U.S. President Harry S. Truman. But Truman canceled the meeting. He was in no mood to discuss the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
What was bothering the president? Earlier in the year, an American Zionist delegation had met with him in the White House and demanded immediate action on behalf of the thousands of homeless Holocaust victims seeking refuge in a Jewish state. When Truman’s response fell short of their expectations, the visitors became adamant. Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland, OH literally pounded on the president’s desk. Truman was outraged. “No one, but no one, comes into the office of the President of the United States and shouts at him, or pounds on his desk. If anyone is going to do any shouting or pounding in here, it will be me,” and with that, Truman had them ushered out of the Oval Office. “I’ve had it with those hotheads,” he told his staff. “Don’t ever admit them again, and what’s more, I also never want to hear the word Palestine mentioned again.”
When Weizmann learned about the incident, he was devastated. “Who,” he kept asking, “who could get the president to change his mind?” One name came up repeatedly: Truman’s lifelong friend, Eddie Jacobson.
Later, Truman promised both Jacobson and Weizmann that the U.S. would recognize a Jewish state if it were proclaimed. Yet, on March 19, 1948, Warren Austin, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, without the president’s knowledge or White House clearance, announced on national radio that the American government opposed the partition of Palestine.
Truman quickly contacted Jacobson and Weizmann to reassure them that Austin had misrepresented the U.S. position. He wrote in his diary: “This morning I find that the State Department has reversed my Palestine policy. The first I know about it is what I see in the papers! Now, I am placed in a position of a liar and double-crosser. I never felt so low in my life. What is not generally understood is that the Zionists are not the only ones to be considered in the Palestine question. There are other interests that come into play, each with its own agenda. The military is concerned with the problems of defending a newly created small country from attacks by much larger and better trained Arab nations. Others have selfish interests concerning the flow of Arab oil to the U.S. Since they all cannot have their way, it is a perfect example of why I had to remember that ‘The Buck Stops Here.'”
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, read a “Declaration of Independence” proclaiming the establishment of the State of Israel. Eleven minutes later, the United States issued the following statement, signed by President Truman: “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.”
“In 1961, years after he left the White House, former President Truman met with Ben-Gurion in New York. Ben-Gurion’s memory of that meeting is revealing:
At our last meeting, after a very interesting talk, just before [the President] left me – it was in a New York hotel suite – I told him that as a foreigner I could not judge what would be his place in American history; but his helpfulness to us, his constant sympathy with our aims in Israel, his courageous decision to recognize our new state so quickly and his steadfast support since then had given him an immortal place in Jewish history. As I said that, tears suddenly sprang to his eyes. And his eyes were still wet when he bade me goodbye. I had rarely seen anyone so moved. I tried to hold him for a few minutes until he had become more composed, for I recalled that the hotel corridors were full of waiting journalists and photographers. He left. A little while later, I too had to go out, and a correspondent came to me to ask, “Why was President Truman in tears when he left you?”
I believe that I know. These were the tears of a man who had been subjected to calumny and vilification, who had persisted against powerful forces within his own Administration determined to defeat him. These were the tears of a man who had fought ably and honorably for a humanitarian goal to which he was deeply committed. These were tears of thanksgiving that his God had seen fit to bless his labors with success. ”
From Memoirs of Clark M. Clifford who served as Special Counsel to President Truman from 1946 to 1950 and as Secretary of Defense in 1968-69 under President Johnson. Source
Henry Luke 8/7/2017