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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How the United States Helped to Create Israel

Nadene Goldfoot

Jews never had left "Palestine" since the Romans had taken Jerusalem in 70 CE and had renamed the territory "Palestine, the hateful name of an ancient enemy."   Some had always remained.  That's who our pennies helped out when we Jewish children attended Sunday School and brought out karen-an eem to put in the jar for the poor.

In 1892 Russian  Jews 25,000 to 35,000 immigrated back to "Palestine" in what became known as the First Aliyah.  This immigration pattern continued till 1903.  They all farmed and created cities despite the hardships of mosquitoes and attacking bands of nomadic Arabs. 

 By 1893 there were also about 92,300 Arabs in the primarily Jewish-settled area.  This included settled Arabs and those recently arrived by the time of the Turkish census who came to Jewish settlements looking for work.  The new economic attractions of the Jewish areas had a big pull for the poor peasanat-migrants in the Middle East lands next door to the "deserted" Palestine.  In their own lands there were crushing burdens of confiscatory taxes and extortionate loan practices, Bedouin raids and tribal warfare that they escaped from.  Arab families kept moving and went where they heard people were better treated. 

A journalist who became an activst was Theodore Herzel in 1896, an Austrian-Hungarian secular Jew who saw first hand the anti-semitism that had been growing.  He thought about it a great deal and came up with his solution to such a horror that he had witnessed and published his document, "THE JEWISH STATE."  What evolved was that he had created Zionism and organized the 1st Congress of intellectual Jewish men to come together and bring it about after men had just been praying for it to happen for 2,000 years. 

The World War I commenced in the middle of the planning.  In 1917 there was a Jewish scientist, Chaim Weizmann, who had been instrumental in causing the Allies to win the 1st world war by his invention.  He was also a Zionist and turned out to be a wonderful statesperson for his Jewish people.

He persuaded the British to issue a statement favoring the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.  The British were holding the mandate which was the outcome of the war being won by the Allies.  The Ottoman Empire had been on the German or Axis side and was now in control of the British and French mandates until it was decided as to what to do with the land.  This statement became the Balfour Declaration and was in fact part of the payment to Jews, mainly Weizmann,  for their support of the British against the Turks in the war.  The League of Nations ratified the declaration and in 1922 appointed Britain to rule Palestine.

Jews were so optimistic and needy for a homeland that they immigrated there from many countries, first from Russia,  but mainly a little later from Germany when Nazi persecution of Jews began in the 20's and 30's.  This made the Arabs aware of the Jews' need for a national homeland.  By 1936 guerrilla fighting broke out between Arabs and Jews. 

"The Palestinian Arabs have at present no will of their own.  Neither have they ever developed any specifically Palestinian nationalism....It would seem as though in existing circumstances most of the Palestinian Arabs would be quite content to be incorporated in Trans-Jordan. (from Folke  Bernadotte, UN Advisor in To Jerusalem, 1950-1951" from Time Immemorial page 234.).   

Britain couldn't keep the peace so issued the White Paper in 1939 restricting Jewish immigration.  The Jews felt betrayed and bitterly opposed this policy, looking to the USA for support.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt played two sides being sympathetic to Jews and assuring Arabs that he would consult both parties.  Nobody knew what his position was.  Harry S. Truman became president after he died and was clear that his sympathy was with the Jews, accepted the Balfour Declaration  saying it was in keeping with President Woodrow Wilson's principle of "self-determination."  He started several studies of the situation and his belief was supported that as a result of the Holocaust, Jews were even more oppressed than in the beginning and were in great need of their own homeland.  The USA Dept. of War and State advised him against US intervention for the Jews because, they said, they recognized the possibilitiy of a Soviet-Arab connection and potential Arab restriction on oil supplies to the USA.

The USA and Britian in April 1946 established the "Ango-American Committee of Inquiry".  They had 10 recommendations on subjects like refugee immigration into Palestine, land policy, need for peace in Palestine, etc. see

Reactions to the recommendations were not good.  The British reacted badly to Jewish rebellion (of which my 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot, was involved and a leader of) and was put in Acco's prison.  Many young men were hung by the British.  By February 1947 Arab-Jewish communications had collapsed.  Britian was anxious to get out of such a problem and formally requested on April 2, 1947 that the UN General Assembly have a special committee on Palestine called UNSCOP who recommended that Britain's mandate end and the territory be partitioned into 2 states.  Jews of course were divided in their feelings about this.  Some wanted control of all of Palestine.  Others went along with partition as their dream of a homeland could still be met, though much smaller.  The Arabs, however, were not agreeable to any point of the plan.  So, by October the Arab League Council told its Arab cohorts to move their troops to the border of Palestine. 

Truman told the State Department to support the UN plan and they did, though reluctantly.  On November 29, 1947 the plan passed in the UN General Assembly.  At midnight, May 14, 1948, Israel 's new provisional government proclaimed a new State of Israel!  Truman recognized the government as de facto authority of the Jewish state (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949.)  Truman had told the press before he told the glum State Dept officials!  What other name did the new government give it but Israel, the name of the original Jewish state that sat in that same territory.   May 15, 1948, the first day of Israeli Independence, turned out to be exactly one year after UNSCOP was established.  On this day the Arab armies invaded Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war began.  They had refused their offer and still do to this very day, for 64 years! 

National Archives, Seattle,
From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters, journalist and researcher

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