Friday, November 25, 2011

The Vote for Partition of Israel (part 5 of 6)

This is the 5th of 6 installments on the book: A Safe Haven; Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.
64 years ago during Thanksgiving 1947, important events were taking shape that would prove crucial to the establishment of the state of Israel. This series of excerpts covers this period.  Selected quotes (and paraphrases) from page 241-276:
“After much debate, the delegates (of NASCOP) finally agreed on eleven points, including:
* an end to the British Mandate; 
* that independence be given to Palestine under the auspices of the United Nations;
* that the sacred nature of all holy places be safeguarded; 
* that agreements for 250,000 Jewish DPs in Europe be worked out; and
* that there be some kind of economic union among the groups of Palestine. They could not agree, however, on what sort of entity or entities would be created in Palestine.
The majority report proposed the creation of Arab and Jewish states, which would become independent after a two year transitional period, during which time the United Nations would supervise the Mandate under trusteeship. The two states would have an economic union. In addition, 150,000 immigrants would be allowed to move to Palestine, and Jerusalem would be established as an international zone.
Finally at midnight, on September 1, the eleven members of UNSCOP emerged and officially handed the report to the United Nations. Several had tears in their eyes, and Enrique Fabregat (NASCOP delegate from Uruguay) went over to Horowitz and embraced him. “It’s the greatest moment in my life,” he said.” Now it was up to the United Nations to vote on the resolution in two months time.
The Fight Over Partition  
The Arabs, its representative said, “would never allow a Jewish state to be established in one inch of Palestine,” and he warned that attempts “to impose any solution contrary to the Arab’s birthright will only lead to trouble and bloodshed and probably to a third world war.” ...The Arabs would never accept partition and would take up arms in defense of their country with the support of the entire Arab world. In addition to supplying arms and money, he predicted, the Arab governments themselves would take action.”
“To say the Jews are pleased with the report is an understatement, they are elated. said Golda Meyerson, head of the Political Department of the Jewish Agency and the only authorized Zionist spokesperson left in Palestine. To Meyerson,  the words "Palestine" and "Jerusalem" were almost synonymous to most Jews... we can  hardly imagine a Jewish state without Jerusalem.
Pressures were mounting on Truman to come out in favor of partition. Eddie Jacobson (his life long friend and business partner who was Jewish), wrote to him, “Again I am appealing to you on behalf of my people.” After describing the plight of 1.5 million Jews as they faced yet another winter in Europe, Jacobson said: “I think I am one of the few who actually knows and realizes what terrible burdens you are carrying on your shoulders during these hectic days. I should, therefore, be the last man to add to them; but I feel you will forgive me for doing so, because tens of thousands of lives depend on words from your mouth and heart. Harry, my people need help and I am appealing to you to help them.”
The Jewish Agency then took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to create an “avalanche” [of communication] to descend upon the White House. Truman became very upset (that the vote might be in jeopardy) and threw his personal weight behind the effort to get a decision. From then on, Washington exerted itself to rally support and the situation improved.”
This was happening despite the fact that the State Department was against partition. Truman and the White House were making it happen, with the considerable help of the Jewish community. When Johnson asked Niles what to do about the State Department, Niles told him, “Never mind the State Department!” This is an order from the President!
Finally the date of the vote arrived. On November 29, tension built as the world waited to hear the General Assembly’s decision. A small number of votes would decide the future of Palestine.
The final vote was announced by Secretary-General Trygve Lie: 33 in favor of partition, 13 opposed, and 11 abstentions. An overwhelming majority of the General Assembly had done what a few days earlier seemed impossible.
As the votes were being counted, a shiver went down Emanuel Neumann’s spine (president of Zionist Organization of America). He felt the spirit of Theodor Herzl haunting the proceedings. In 1987, Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, had made the incredible prediction that a Jewish state would be founded within fifty years. Here it was, fifty years later.
As the Arab delegates heard the vote, many stormed out of the hall. Abdul Rahman Azzam (secretary-general of the Arab League) and Prince Faisal stood up. “their faces twisted with anger,” the journalist Ruth Gruber wrote, and “their white robes and headdresses shook as they motioned to the delegates from the other Arab states to follow them. At the door, in Arabic-accented English, Azzam Bey shouted, ‘Any line of partition drawn in Palestine will be a line of fire and blood.’
The British had abstained, although the world knew that Bevin and Atlee were hoping that partition would never be put into place... In New York, pandemonium reigned and crowds overflowed into the streets. Speaking to the crowds, Emanual Neumann credited Harry Truman for the achievement, telling his audience, “If we now have this decision of the United Nations, it is due in very large measure, perhaps the largest measure, to the sustained interest and the unflagging efforts of President Truman.
Truman had waited until the last possible moment to bring the full weight of the White House to secure the votes for partition. He had hoped that a simple announcement that the United States intended to vote for it would be enough. When it became obvious that it would not, he moved quickly and gave permission and encouragement for direct pressure to be applied to assure its passage. Partition, which had been sanctioned by the United Nations, was apparently the only answer for the Jews still in DP camps, American public opinion supported it, and so did his close advisers in the White House. He felt the pressure to act both politically and morally. And he realized that if partition went down, there was one person who would be blamed for it: Harry Truman.”

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