Classic Essays

Truman and His Jews

Harry Truman and Chaim Weizmann

ONE OF THE trappings that go with the character of the historical tyrant is inaccessibility. Irresponsible, myopic and insensitive, he shuts himself away in some round, square or oval office and soon becomes totally out of touch with the “people.” To get to him you have to penetrate huge iron gates guarded by some secret service Cerberus, some éminence grise, some overly protective bodyguard, some officious mayor of the palace who stops everyone in his tracks, checks every I.D., chucks every written message directly into the paper shredder and files and forgets every petition. (ILLUSTRATION: Harry S. Truman on the left, with Chaim Weizmann)

The Mikados had their Shoguns, Nicholas II his Rasputin, Louis XV his Pompadour, Wilson his Colonel House — and Harry Truman, David Niles and Sam Rosenman.

Sam Rosenman
Sam Rosenman

According to Edwin Wright, an old Middle Eastern hand in the State Department in the crucial days of Israel’s parturition, all messages from the State Department, top secret or otherwise, addressed to the President had to pass through the hands of either David Niles or Sam Rosenman, both of them ardent Zionists.

The authentic experts on the Middle East such as Loy Henderson, the American diplomat who knew most about the area, were predicting all along that the creation of Israel was a certain guarantee of future war, possibly even nuclear war. Memos were written on the subject by the best brains in the State Department. But none of them got through to Truman. On the contrary, just for being both right and forthright, Loy Henderson was moved from his desk in the State Department and exiled to India, where his lucid knowledge of Middle Eastern Affairs would be safely quarantined.

Truman himself complained in his memoirs about the intense Zionist pressure on and in the White House. Everyone has heard the tearful tale of Eddie Jacobson, Truman’s Jewish partner in his bankrupt haberdashery shop, who got Chaim Weizmann in to see the President at the time the latter was not receiving Zionists. Somehow Weizmann, the head of the World Zionist Federation, managed to turn Truman into a dedicated or opportunistic pro-Israeli in a single meeting.

David Niles
David Niles

Truman’s recognition of Israel a few minutes after it proclaimed its independence will certainly go down as one of the stupidest acts of diplomacy in American history, if not universal history. But just because it was so asinine, just because it was so directly opposed to the national interest, Truman is now being “revived” in adulatory theatrical pieces, magazine articles and books. A hack judge, a servile wardheeler of the hypercrooked Pendergast machine, a mountebank who lent the name, dignity and presence of the vice-presidency (in early 1945) to the funeral rites of convicted felon Tom Pendergast, Truman, decent Americans will never forget, was the murderous miscreant who buried chivalry and fair play by dropping not one but two atomic bombs on the civilian population of a defeated enemy. Such is the man we are now supposed to honor, praise and applaud.

And all this because of his zealous support of Israel. If he had taken an opposite tack, all his deficiencies would have been long ago exposed by the media and he would have taken his rightful place on the bottom stair of American presidents.

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Source: Instauration magazine, September 1976

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