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June 14, 1991 - Image 42

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-06-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PURELY COMMENTARY

Truman, Clifford, Marshall
In Israel'
s Genesis

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

C

lark Clifford had
many roles in nation-
al affairs with inter-
national involvements
commencing with his ad-
visory position to President
Harry S. Truman down the
line to his involvement in
the Vietnam occurrences
under President Lyndon B.
Johnson. In his memoir en-
titled Counsel to the Presi-
dent, he covered the major
events involving our nation,
creating interest as well as
disputes over national
crises. This became apparent
in a challenging column in
the New York Times (May
23) by William Safire on
Mr. Clifford's involvement
in the Vietnam issue under
the title "Clark Clifford's
Confession."
Mr. Clifford had a historic
role in President Truman's
history-making act, being
the first head of a nation to
recognize the establishment
of Israel on May 14, 1948.
Regrettably, Mr. Clifford
gave minimal attention to
this important relationship
in his book.
Important reference to this
shortcoming is made in a re-
view of the Clifford book in
the New York Times (May
13) in which the reviewer,
Christopher Lehman-Haupt,
makes this comment:

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Mr. Clifford's huge self-
esteem is sufferable be-
cause he expresses it so
compellingly. Not all of
the book is up to the dra-
matic opening episode in
which the author is called
upon by President
Truman to face down Sec-
retary of State George C.
Marshall in his strong op-
position to United States
recognition of the new
state of Israel, an assign-
ment Mr. Clifford com-
pletes with grateful
dispatch.A more elaborate

review of the book was in the

New York Times Book Re-
view (May 19). In that

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42

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 1991

lengthy resume of the book,
reviewer Roger Morris had
this to say about the omis-
sion:

It was a time when the
routine, the banal, might
be epic. A bit like a lawyer
sparring over a divorce
case, Mr. Clifford is there
outbluffing the Under-
secretary of State Robert
Lovett as the White House
defies its foreign policy
advisers and recognizes

President Truman:
History-making act.

the new state of Israel, an
act Secretary of State
George C. Marshall
thought tragically polit-
ical in motivation, and be-
cause of which he never
again mentioned Mr. Clif-
ford's name.Therefore, of

great historic importance is
the American action and
those involved in it in in-
troducing Israel to the socie-
ty of nations. That is why my
editorial on the subject in
The Jewish News of May 13,
1977, must be viewed as
taking into account Presi-
dent Truman and Clark Clif-
ford as well as General
George C. Marshall, who
was then Israel's antagonist.
It is important to recall the
manner in which I front-
paged the announcement
under the headline " Clifford
Demolishes Charge That
Politics Caused Israel Rec-
ognition." That announce-
ment stated in part:

President Truman was
deeply incensed at what
he considered to be the
consistent attitude of
obstructionism on the
part of the State Depart-
ment to his policy toward
Palestine. He was
angered even more at the
innuendos and ultimately
the specific charge by the
department that the only
reason for the president's
position was his effort to
curry favor with Jewish
voters in the country.
Was politics a factor in
the decision that Presi-
dent Truman made dur-
ing these extraordinarily
difficult days? Of course it
was. Under our system,
political considerations
are present in every im-
portant decision that a
president makes. But in
this instance it was a
minor factor because of

President Truman's
broad national strategy.
In some of the revi-
sionist writing about this
period, reference is made
to a memorandum I sub-
mitted to President
Truman in November
1947 ... I suggested that if
we were to win the Jewish
vote, it would be won on
the Democratic Party's
long-standing commit-
ment to political and
economic liberalism. An
interesting quote from the
memorandum is as
follows:
`In the long run, there is
likely to be greater gain if
the Palestine problem is
approached on the basis
of reaching decision. The
charge implied that the
President and those
Americans who sup-
ported his policy were
somehow disloyal and ac-
ting in opposition to our
country's best inter-
ests: The editorial under the

heading "Truman and
Historic May 14" needs
elaboration as an emphasis
on the Truman-Clifford-
Lovett roles in Israel's histo-
ry:

The civic date of May 14,
when Israel's statehood
and sovereignty were
proclaimed in 1948, can
not be forgotten or
overlooked. It assumes
special significance at this
time, thanks to Clark Clif-
ford, who was senior ad-
viser to President Truman
••
Clifford's recapitulation
of the historic days of May
11 to 14, 1948, becomes a
significant chapter in
Jewish and world history.
It gives a full account of
opposition to the cause of
Jewish statehood the
name Israel was not
chosen until the declara-
tion of independence by
David Ben-Gurion on the
afternoon of May 14. The
then Secretary of State
General George Marshall
strongly opposed Israel
and he had backing from
many in the State
Department. Truman
could not offend his Sec-
retary of State, but at the
last moment, with the
backing of Clark Clifford
and the last-minute sup-
port of Robert Lovett, the
then Undersecretary of
State the latter aban-
doned his opposition to
statehood by Jews the
President followed the

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