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November 30, 1984 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-11-30

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Friday, November 30, 1984




Was Truman anti-Zionist? Eliahu Elath's revealing view under scrutiny



First Israel Ambassador to the United
States Eliahu Elath has written a book,
with his reminiscences, maintaining that
President Harry S Truman was not the
ideologically supportive Zionist he has
been judged until now.
Elath's views are expressed in a new
volume of close to 1,100 pages, commented
upon in an item in a recent Zionist Infor-
mation News Service release. ZINS does
not state the language in which that very
large volume was published, nor does it
give the name of the publisher. In its brief
analysis of the Elath book, ZINS points
The truth is, the author con-
tends, that Truman fully sup-
ported the anti-Zionist policy of the
State Department and the Penta-
gon, who argued that the estab-
lishment of a Jewish state would
be inimical to American interests.
The author also destroys a second
"sentimental view" that it was Dr.
Chaim Weizman's appeal to Tru-
man — in March 1948 — that per-
suaded the American President to
alter his anti-Zionist position.
That, says Elath is also pure myth.
The truth is that Truman finally
agreed to recognize the Jewish
state because of strong pressures
exerted upon him by powerful
forces in the Democratic Party,
among whom were Clark Clifford
(Truman's adviser on internal af-
fairs) and David Niles, a Bostonian
Jew, who was Truman's adviser on
minorities. In addition, the Ameri-
can Jewish community played a
crucial role in neutralizing the
anti-Zionist forces within the
American Administration.
The judgment is subject to study of
many aspects of the Zionist-Palestinian
historic record as it relates to President
Truman. Only a few days earlier, in the
Truman Monologue, the late President
made comment on his friend Eddie Jacob-
son who had come to him with a request for
an audience during the critical period of
the United Nations discussions on the
Palestine Partition proposals. Truman
said he had warned Jacobson not to discuss
Palestine with him, but when Eddie ar-
rived he was full of tears. "I warned you,
you SOB," Truman said. You know I can't
stand tears . ." And two weeks later,
Truman invited Chaim Weizmann to the
White House. From that point began the
Truman pro-Zionist role in history.
Clark Clifford, mentioned in the
Eliahu Elath ZINS item, disputed the
Eddie Jacobson influence upon Truman.
His views were included in a special
Jewish News Page One article, May 13,
1977, which was entitled, "Clifford De-
niolishes Charge That Politics Caused Is-
rael's Recognition." Truman himself, in his
monologue, seemed to give credence to the
Jacobson involvement.
Was Truman under State Department
control in his views on Zionism and Pales-
tine? Why, then, did he reject the views of
his Secretary of State, General George
Marshall, who opposed recognition of the
Jewish State of Israel, which was advo-
cated most strongly by Clark Clifford.?
There is reason to doubt the applica-

bility to fact of the Elath views. This corn-
mentator had occasion to hear President
Truman's views when he led a delegation
of editors to the White House. President
Truman led us to a large world globe in his
office. He turned to this commentator and
said, pointing to the Middle East, some-
thing to the effect that he had been doubted
on his views on the subject of Zionism and
Palestine and that in reality he was deeply
committed to the subject, primarily by his
deep interest in the Bible which he had
read/and re-read. On one other occasion he
told this columnist that, suffering from
limited eyesight, he devoted his time to
reading, and the Bible was his major love.
He repeated it on another occasion when he
expressed his gratitude to this columnist
for having described him as "The Second
Cyrus." He said he deeply understood this
delineation because he admired Cyrus of
Persia for having facilitated a return of
exiles to ancient Israel.

Eliahu Elath:
Disputed view of Truman.

Now; there is much to be said about
Eliahu Elath. The eminent diplomat and
author was in San Francisco during the
founding of the United Nations in 1945.
Then, Zionist representatives were hardly
recognized. Palestine as a Jewish state was
a dream. But we journalists could enter
places denied to Elath whose name then
was Epstein. Therefore, Eliahu Epstein
and the Jewish delegations came to us for
information — to us who were blessed with
the entry symbol of a red U.N. button that
opened all doors to us.
Came the redemption and with it
name-chanting. Epstein became Elath —
he assumed that Hebraized name because
he was an Orientalist of note and a spe-
cialist on the Bedouins and had expert
knowledge of the Elath area in southern
He was still Eliahu Epstein when he
came to Shaarey Zedek in Detroit, on
Chicago and Lawton, to address a mass
rally in his just-accorded role as the first
Israeli Ambassador to the United States.
The main sanctuary was packed and an
equally-packed audience filled the base-
ment social hall. A very narrow stairway
led to the social hall from the sanctuary,
and this writer and Ambassador Epstein-
Elath were on the middle steps when the
eminent new diplomat said: "What a day of
glory for me who could not reach into high
places at the United Nations only a few
years ago! This is what statehood is al-
ready doing for us . ."
Eliahu Elath, who was born in Russia
in 1903, had a rich career, which now earns
emphasis in his equally-distinctive record
as an author. He served as Israel Ambas-
sador to the Court of St. James. For nearly
a decade thereafter he was president of the

Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He held
many other diplomatic and professional
posts and earned honorary degrees from a
dozen universities, including Wayne State
The rich career as an eminent dip-
lomat and author needs to be kept in view,
even if his judgment of an important chap-
ter in world history emphasizing Israel and
President Truman may suggest further

Remembering Niebuhr:
Eminent theologian who
inspired Detroit leadership

Dr. Franklin Littell rendered an im-
portant service with his recent tribute in
these columns to Reinhold Niebuhr.
Himself one of the outstanding leaders
in ecumenical tasks and in assuring
strongest links among all faiths in advanc-
ing understanding, in protecting human
decencies, in striving for unblemished jus-
tice among all peoples, Littell recalled the
noble career of Dr. Niebuhr with recollec-
tions about a man who devoted himself to
preventing prejudice, to the fight against
anti-Semitism, to the repudiation of the
bigotries that became apparent in his
The Littell essay belonged especially
in these columns because the Niebuhr saga
began in Detroit. In his pulpit here, he
conducted the campaigns for justice, in de-
fense of just rights for Jews and fairness to
the blacks — always rejecting whatever
references may then have been made de-
rogatorily under the guise of tolerating
He became an advocate of Zionism, an
ideal he pursued in behalf of the Jewish
people during the critical years from the
1930s through the 1940s when anti-
Semitism was rampant. Notable, as Littell
properly indicates, Mrs. Niebuhr assumed
leadership in movements for justice, after
her husband's death. She became a strong
supporter of Israel and Zionism, and thus
lent glory to her husband's name.
A major reason- for emphasizing the
Detroit background in the Niebuhr career
is the relationship he had with Jewish
spokespeople, his close friendship with Leo
M. Franklin and Abraham M. Hershman,
his brief association prior to leaving De-
troit with Morris Adler. Not only the rab-
bis of his time but the lay people as well
befriended, admired, loved him. They in-
cluded the Butzels and the Kroliks.
Remembering this glorious name, it is
well to point out that Christians of such
eminence as Carl Hermann Voss and his
associates share the Littell admiration for
one of the very great men of this century.
Reinhold Niebuhr wrote his name in-
delibly in theological history and in the
records of noble humanists. Detroiters who
will never forget him will always join in
placing his name among the hasidei umot
ha-olam — the saintly among the nations
of the world.

Modigliani in the limelight:
another important chapter
in world art history

An important chapter in the history of
world art was written on Nov. 14 at
Sotheby's in New York, the famous art
dealing center. Packed with art connois-
seurs, the occasion witnessed the sale of
the famous Amedeo Modigliani painting,
The Dreamer, of "a wistful woman por-
trayed against a dark background."
New York Times art critic Rita Reif
refers to it as a 1917-1918 version of "the
only horizontal image ever painted by an

A madeo Modigliani

Italian artist."
Worldwide interest has been aroused
in this painting described as "one of about
22 reclining versions" painted by Modig-
liani. Fewer than six are in private hands.
The painting was sold for $4,620,000
to an unidentified American buyer. There
were more than 1,000 bidders and watch-
ers during the sale. It marked the highest
price paid for any art work in the auction,
in which 60 of 83 art works on sale netted
$30 million.
The sensational sale calls attention to
the Italian Jewish artist who had a tragic
life which ended at the early age of 36.
Both Encyclopedia Judaica and Uni-
versal Jewish Encyclopedia describe Mod-
igliani's life and his rise to fame with fasci-
nation. They indicate the style which drew
world acclaim for the artist who grew to
great eminence.
An introductory to his life story in
Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, by art
authority M. Donald White, provides the
facts about Modigliani's Jewish origin:
tist, b. Livorno, Italy, 1884, d. Paris,
1920. Although his career was trag-
ically cut short at the age of 36, he
has left an imperishable mark on
the art of the 20th Century. Inci-
dentally, he has become the hero of
the last great romantic legend of
"bohemian" Paris.
Modigliani was descended
from two distinguished Jewish
families. His father's forebears
were bankers to the cardinals in
Rome; his mother of the Garsino
family, traced her descent from
Spinoza. His brother, Emmanuele,
was a socialist deputy until after
the rise of Mussolini.
In 1906, after two years' study
in Venice and in Florence, his
mother made it possible for Modig-
liani to open a studio in Paris. Set-
tled in Montmartre, he made
friends of and exchanged ideas
with men of revolutionary artistic
ideas such as Picasso, Max Jacob,
Derain, Vlaminck and Utrillo — all
of whom at that time were living in
penniless misery. Sculpture was
ever to be Modigliani's chief love;
but the bad effects of stone dust on
his weak lungs forced him to
abandon it in favor of painting. His
first picutre to gain a measure of
recognition was the Violincellist,
exhibited at the Salon des Inde-
pendants in 1910.
A life of dissipation did not deter Mod-
igliani from learning from Caesanne,
Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec and from Afri-
can sculpture. Drunkenness added to the
tragedy. It is indicated in one of the de-
scriptive articles that: "Despite his many

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