Monday, September 26, 2011

Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, Part 2

This is the 2nd of 6 installments on the book: A Safe HavenHarry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.

Selected quotes from pp. 205 - 215
“For the British army, Palestine had become a giant nuisance and fiscal drain. “One gets the impression,” Clifton Daniel wrote in The New York Times, “that the British are besieged in their own fortress and are appealing to the United Nations to rescue them.” Daniel continued:
“With thickets of barbed wire and blockhouses of sandbags they have created in Jerusalem a modern version of a medieval walled and moated city... Only eleven Britons in the whole country are allowed to live outside security zones, and two of them are under constant guard. Those within the zones are confined from nightfall until daylight... The Jews find a certain sardonic humor in the British predicament. Jerusalem is brimming with jokes about British ghettos, British displaced persons and Britons behind barbed wire.”
“All these precautions, including the creation of the barbed-wire enclosed zones in Jerusalem, were a response to continuing terrorist attacks [by Jewish groups such as the Palmach, Stern Gang, and Irgun]. In addition, all of Palestine’s Jews, moderates as well as radicals, supported the continuing illegal immigration of European Jews, who were being smuggled into Palestine. Their argument was simple: Britain, and not the Jews, was violating the terms of the original [Balfour] Mandate, which called for Jewish immigration and the establishment of a Jewish national home.”
“On April 2, 1947, the British, admitting that they could find no solution to the Palestine quagmire, formally requested that Palestine be put on the U.N. General Assembly’s agenda for the fall session.”
“The Arab states requested that a motion calling for the immediate “termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the Declaration of its independence” be placed on the agenda of the special session. If adopted, it would make Palestine into an Arab state. The United States opposed it, claiming it was premature to consider such a proposition before UNSCOP conducted its study and made its recommendations.”
“When Kirchwey (editor of The Nation) heard that the U.S. delegation to the United Nations backed the British on giving a platform to the Arab Higher Committee, she immediately went into action. First, Kirchwey and the Nation Associates gave out a lengthy report on the pro-Axis activities of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to all fifty-five delegations to the United Nations. Most striking was the fact that it was based on classified U.S. government files that had been leaked to Kirchwey by someone in the government. The Arab Higher Committee, the report charged, was the “creature of the Arab League” and was run from Egypt by the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini... Three members of the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, who were delegates to the U.N. General Assembly, men who were ranked with the “worst of the Axis war criminals.” The account of the Mufti, Kirchwey explained, was documented from captured files belonging to the mufti and the German High Command, all found by the American military authorities in Germany.”
“As for the Mufti himself, the report was scathing and thorough. It traced the Mufti’s actions back to 1920, revealing a history of violent organized attacks he had planned against the Jews of Palestine... After escaping to Iraq, the Mufti was directly responsible for the death of four hundred Jewish men, women, and children, who were murdered on Baghdad’s streets. The Mufti then fled to Italy and later to Nazi Germany. Once he was there, the Nazis had established an office in which the Mufti was put in charge of propaganda, espionage, Muslim military units, and Arab legions, which were ordered to carry out fifth-column activities in the Middle East, including sabotage.... Captured records also revealed that the Mufti had accompanied Adolf Eichmann to visit the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Moreover, the Mufti had put an end to ransom Jews in Bratislava, insisting that they all be liquidated.”
“Kirchwey made sure that the Nation Associates’ reports reached the White House. Writing to Truman about their report on the Mufti and the Arab Higher Committee, David Niles explained to the president just how important the material was....
[Truman responded:] “Thanks, glad you sent it,” Truman replied in handwritten notes he scribbled on the memo. “I knew all about the purported facts mentioned and, of course, I don’t like it.... As to the document itself, Truman added that it “could have been used by us for the welfare of the world had not our own political situation come into the picture. I surely wish God Almighty would give the Children of Israel an Isaiah, the Christians a St. Paul and the Sons of Ishmael a peep at the Golden Rule. Maybe he will decide to do that.”
to be continued

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