Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL

The Recognition of Israel In the Spring of 1948, Palestine became embroiled in American domestic politics. Jewish votes were important to President Truman in the coming election. Key advisers, especially Clark Clifford, pushed him to stand firmly for UN partition to win those votes.

As May 15th approached, pressure on President Truman increased. He was urged to recognize the new Jewish state that was certain to be proclaimed when partition occurred. Others counseled against recognition, arguing it would antagonize Arab states and jeopardize American access to oil.

President Truman's regard for Secretary of State George C. Marshall was tremendous. The Secretary's opposition to recognition of a new Jewish state in Palestine troubled President Truman and resulted in the sharpest disagreement the two ever had.

 
A Nation is Born

  TorahAs partition approached, President Truman had to decide whether to officially recognize the Jewish state that would be proclaimed on May 15th.

On May 12th, he gathered his advisers at the White House. Tempers flared. Clark Clifford made the case for recognition. Secretary of State George Marshall led the opposition, saying he couldn't vote for President Truman if he pursued recognition. President Truman weighed personal, political and strategic concerns. On May 14th he acted. America recognized the new state of Israel.

On May 14th Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion reads the proclamation of nationhood. Striking the speaker's table for emphasis, he announced, "The name of our state shall be Israel."

The American statement recognizing the new State of Israel bears President Truman's last-minute handwritten changes. American recognition came shortly after midnight in Palestine, just minutes after the new nation was proclaimed.

President Truman accepted the gift of a Torah from Dr. Chaim Weizmann, first president of the new state of Israel, during Weizmann's visit to the White House on May 25th, 1948.

Featured documents in this section of the exhibit:

  • Edward R. Stettinius, Jr. to Harry S. Truman, April 18, 1945, regarding early requests for Truman's approval of a Jewish State in Palestine. Papers of Harry S. Truman: President's Secretary's Files. (1 page)
  • Correspondence between Harry S. Truman and Chaim Weizmann, May 13 and 15, 1948, thanking Truman for his support and asking for prompt recognition of Israel by the United States. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Official Files. (3 pages)
  • Press Release, Statement by the President, November 13, 1945, announcing the establishment of the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry into the Palestine situation. Papers of Harry S. Truman: President's Secretary's Files. (2 pages)
  • Correspondence between Harry S. Truman and Edward Jacobson, October 3 and 8, 1947, regarding Truman's public support of the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. Papers of Harry S. Truman: President's Secretary's Files. (3 pages)
  • Statement of the President, May 14, 1948, regarding the official United States government recognition of the State of Israel. Papers of Charles Ross. (1 page)
  • Correspondence between Mrs. Benjamin Brown, Mr. Vince Gaughan, and Harry S. Truman, June 28, July 18, and July 24, 1961, regarding a miniature piano Mrs. Brown sent to President Truman as a thanks for his sympathy with the Jewish people and his recognition of Israel. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Post-Presidential Files. (7 pages)

Truman: In His Own Words

  • Letter, Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace, June 22, 1911, in which he casually expresses his racial prejudices. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Family, Business, and Personal Affairs File. (6 pages)

  • Letter, Harry S. Truman to Bess Wallace Truman, June 19, 1946, again using racially discriminatory language. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Family, Business, and Personal Affairs File. (5 pages)

  • Letter, Harry S. Truman to Attorney General Tom Clark, with attached memo to David Niles, September 20, 1946, expressing anger and alarm over rising racially motivated violence and seeking options for dealing with the situation. Papers of David K. Niles. (2 pages)

  • Draft letter, Harry S. Truman to Mary Jane Truman, June 28, 1947, in which Truman mentions his upcoming speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and wishing he didn't have to make it. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Post-Presidential File. (2 pages)

  • Fourth draft, speech to NAACP, with corrections by Harry S. Truman, June 28, 1947, reinforcing the commitment of the federal government to guaranteeing civil rights for all citizens and combating discrimination. Papers of Harry S. Truman: President's Secretary's File. (6 pages)

  • Letter, Roy Wilkins to Harry S. Truman, January 12, 1953, professing admiration for Truman's civil rights record during his administration, and Truman's thanks in reply, January 14, 1953. Papers of Harry S. Truman: Official Files. (4 pages)

 


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