Two Presidents and a Haberdasher: Truman, Weizmann and Johnson
The vital role Eddie Jacobson,
army buddy of Harry S. Truman,
played in the power politics leading
to U. S. recognition of the new
State of Israel 20 years ago, is
told in the latest issue of American
Jewish Archives, published by He-
brew Union College-Jewish Insti-
tute of Religion.
Jacobson served- with Truman
during World War I and later was
his partner in an unsuccessful hab-
Zionist pressure on President
Truman had angered and alien-
ated him, and he refused further
entreaties from American Zion-
ist leaders, Jacobson's account
In mid-February 1948, Jacobson
was enlisted in an effort to per-
suade Truman to meet with the
ailing Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who
had come to America seeking sup-
port for the Jews in Palestine.
Things were steadily worsening
there as the British armed the
Arabs and began their pull-out in
the expectation that Jewish hopes
for statehood would be washed
away in a bloody Arab victory.
Jacobson asked for an appoint
ment with Truman. When he en-
tered the White House, a close Tru-
man aide "advised and urged and
begged me not to discuss Palestine
with the President." After pleasan-
tries, however. Jacobson did bring
up "the Palestine subject."
Truman, he wrote, "immediately
became tense in appearance,
abrupt in speech, and very bitter
in the words he was throwing in
my way. In all the years of our
friendship, he never talked to me
in this manner or in any way even
approaching it. He made it almost
impossible for me to continue when
he said sharply that he didn't want
to discuss Palestine or the Jews
or the Arabs or the British; that
he was satisfied to let these sub-
jects take their course in the
A heated argument followed and,
wrote Jacobson, "I suddenly found
myself thinking that my dear
friend, the President of the United
States, was as close to being an
anti-Semite as a man could possi-
bly be, and I was shocked that
some of our own (un-named) Jew-
ish leaders should be responsible
for Mr. Truman's attitude."
Jacobson pulled his trump card
on the President, likening Tru-
man's study, admiration and idoli-
zation of President Andrew Jack-
son to his feelings for the waiting
and hoping Dr. Weizmann:
"Well, Harry, I too have a hero,"
he said after reminding Truman of
the President's fondness for Jack-
son, "a man I have never met, but
who is, I think, the greatest Jew
who ever lived" — Chaim Weiz-
Truman became . silent, drummed
his fingers on the desk, spun
around in his swivel chair to look
out the window, spun again,
"looked me straight in the eyes
and then said the most endearing
words I had ever heard from his
lips: "You win, you baldheaded
. I will see him-."
Jacobson then met Weizmann
at a nearby hotel for the first
time, and the soon-to-be presi-
dent of Israel "gave me the
sweetest smile I have ever seen"
when he was told that Truman
would see him.
Jacobson says he was never a
Zionist, a Jew pledged to Jewish
return to Israel, but Weizmann
could not have cared less that day.
The private off-the-record meet-
ing of the United States President
and the Israeli president-to-be was
a success although public pro-
nouncements by U. S. officials
went strongly against Israel dur-
ing those weeks.
Jacobson recalled that Weiz-
mann told him "don't be disap-
pointed and no not feel badly. I
do not believe that President Tru-
man knew what wa's going to hap-
pen in the United Nations . . .
Don't forget for a single moment
that Harry S. Truman is the most
powerful single man in the world.
You have a job to do; so keep the
White House doors open."
Jacobson did so and became an
unofficial envoy between Weiz-
mann and Truman handling deli-
cate issues and discussions that
later would be the province of
Truman recognized Israel on
May 14, 1948, and the last 20 years
have shown how close those links
forged in early 1948 have become.
Both Weizmann and Truman
Strike Threats by Israeli Crew
(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)
BREMERHAVEN, W. Germany
—Crewmen of the Israeli freighter
Avocadocore threatened to strike
Wednesday and said they would
not unload a cargo of bananas
that the 5.955-ton mortorship
brought here from Central Amer-
ica Tuesday. The strike threat
was the latest in a series of crew
troubles that has plagued the ves-
sel since last -Thursday when her
master called the Israel Embassy
in London by wireless phone to re-
port that "a rebellion" had broken
out at sea among 11 of the 45 crew
That "rebellion" — or munity —
caused the Avocadocore to make
an unscheduled call at Dover,
England, where harbor police were
alerted when she dropped anchor
a mile off port late Monday after-
noon. The ship was boarded by
Consul Shlomo Levy who was sent
by the Israel Embassy, and a rep-
resentative of the Israel Seamen's
Union who flew in from Haifa.
But the troubles were not resolved
and the vessel sailed.
According to Astramaris, the
West German Steamship Agency
which represents Israel Maritime
Fruit Carriers Ltd. of Haifa, own-
ers of the Avocadocore, the mas-
ter reported all quiet aboard. But
eight crew members were ap-
parently determined to strike and
the rest of the crew apparently
would not interfere. Meir Ayalon,
the Israeli consul general in Bonn,
flew here to talk to the crew but
stressed that no force would be
used against the strikers. If the
bananas are not unloaded, the
ship's owners face a considerable
The strike threat and the earlier
unrest aboard the vessel appear
to stern from an inter-union dis-
pute. Some crew members demand
an independent union. The Israeli
Seamen's Union is affiliated with
Histadrut, Israel's labor federa-
tion. Press reports from Dover
Tuesday said that the Israeli con-
sul and the union representative
were held aboard the ship against
their will for 90 minutes. A state-
ment by the Israeli embassy in
London denied this but admitted
that some crew men had been
abusive to the union representa-
tive. The embassy said that the
Avocadocore's f in al destination
Blast in Gaza
(Direct JTA Teletype Wire
to The Jewish News)
TEL AVIV—Saboteurs were ac-
tive in the Gaza Strip and in the
Dead Sea area Tuesday night
where explosions caused slight
damage but no casualties.
Two explosive charges went off
under two small railroad bridges
near Khan Younis in the southern
end of the strip and another de-
tonated in the railroad line near
the town of Gaza. Two other ex-
plosive charges, discovered near
the Gaza airport and near Khan
Youths, were safely dismantled.
An Israeli halftrack struck a
mine at Neot Hakikar at the
southern shore of the Dead Sea,
near evaporation ponds of the
Dead Sea Potash works. There
were no casualties. An Israeli sol-
dier was injured in a mine explo-
sion near the same spot last week.
Israeli security forces blew up
two houses in Kahlan village, near
Nablus. The buildings were owned
by two El Fatah members who
were killed in a clash north of
Jericho last Saturday.
Egyptian forces opened fire on
Israeli positions at several points
along the east bank of the Suez
Canal Tuesday, a military spokes-
man reported. He said that two
Israeli soldiers were wounded in
the clash that lasted 85 minutes.
(The Egyptians claimed that six
Israelis were hit.) •
So great is the variety of Michi-
gan foods that Michigan comes
closer to setting the family table
completely — breakfast, lunch and
dinner—than any other state.
A dream without nonsense — is
warmly acknowledged how pleased THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Friday, June 28, 1968-19
they were that Jacobson had done
his job. He kept "the White House
doors open" to Israel.
See Our Fine Selection
At the time of Dr. Weizmann's
death in 1952, Truman wrote "Dear
of Spring & Summer
Eddie" that he felt as if he "had
lost a close personal friend when
Coats and Accessories.
he (Weizmann) died. He and I
have had some wonderful conver-
sations on the world situation and
the necessary remedies to meet
conditions and maintain peace in
the world. I wish he could have
HARVARD ROW MALL
11 MILE & LAHSER
Truman left the White House
Open: Thurs. to 9 P.M.
soon after writing that letter.
Jacobson died in 1955.
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