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Ron Radosh

Thursday’s New Republic features a major article by John B. Judis, “Seeds of Doubt: Harry Truman’s concerns about Israel and Palestinians were prescient-and forgotten,” which pulls together material from his new book. My review of his book will appear in a forthcoming issue of The Jewish Review of Books, so I will only briefly comment on this article.

Both in this essay and in his book, Judis joins writers like Max Blumenthal and the BDS movement in attacking Israel and questioning its right to exist. Nevertheless, Judis makes assertions in the TNR excerpt that deserve attention, because they show how he uses history not to learn from the past, but for current political purposes. In this case, he uses history to bolster his belief that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East should tilt towards the Arabs rather than Israel, and that Israel itself was created “against the opposition of its neighbors” and hence plays a “destabilizing” role — and is “a threat to America’s standing in the region.”

Judis argues that Harry S. Truman, who recognized Israel upon its creation in May 1948, not only opposed the creation of a Jewish state, but even after he recognized it, privately expressed regret and blamed his actions on the Zionist lobby in the United States. Judis has disdain for the “Zionist lobby,” which he seems to equate with the vast majority of American Jews and non-Jewish Americans who overwhelmingly supported the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine at the end of World War II.

Judis dismisses evidence that Truman was a Christian Zionist influenced by his religious upbringing and study of the Bible. Not so, says Judis: Truman’s supposed love for the Bible was  “based on his flawed eyesight. The family Bible, with its extra large print, was one of the few books at home the young Truman could read.”

Even if this was the case, large print or not, Truman read the Bible many times, studied it profusely, and knew much of it by heart. From it, he developed a sympathetic view of Palestine as the eternal homeland of the Jews, to which they would someday return.   When he suddenly became president after FDR’s death, he assigned other areas of foreign policy to the State Department, but felt competent to handle the issue of Palestine from the White House. Visitors were amazed when he took out a well-worn map of the area and was familiar with its geography and history.

Judis, however, claims that Truman “had little knowledge of Palestine.”

Most importantly, Judis gives far too much importance to Truman’s supposed endorsement of the Morrison-Grady Plan. (I cover this in detail in my forthcoming review.) He attributes its defeat, once again, to the “Zionist lobby.” Judis barely acknowledges that the Arab League and its representatives were just as opposed to the plan as the Palestinian Jews in the Yishuv – and omits that its members refused to even sit down to discuss it in London if there were any Jews who would be participating.

Judis repeats the widely held charge that Truman eventually supported the creation of Israel because of the Democratic Party’s need to obtain Jewish votes. He ignores that public opinion polls at the time established that the American public overwhelmingly favored support for a Jewish state, including states in which no or hardly any Jews lived. British Ambassador to the U.S. Lord Inverchapel was amazed to hear a speech by Democratic Senator Edwin Johnson — the British supposed that support for the creation of a Jewish state was confined to areas of the U.S. where a lot of Jews lived, yet Johnson was from Colorado, which, as Inverchapel reported home to the prime minister, did not “contain any appreciable Jewish population.”

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Whatever the situation pre-1948 has been washed away by what happened in 1948 and after. Or, if you want to go pre-1948 then let's go back to ancient Israel. Or consider the relative merits of the various nations today, and I mean objectively and not through some inane and insane anti-semitic filter. EVEN considering our "interests" today in terms of oil, we care a LOT less about Arab oil today than twenty years ago.

So the only remaining argument TODAY to favor the Arab states and wish to destroy Israel, is anyone who believes the US should entirely capitulate today to jihad. In short, opposition to current, modern Israel is roughly equivalent to a vicious and suidical self-hatred, or else a blindness and ignorance that is hard to fathom, no matter how clean and articulate the advocates.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you, Ron, for your encyclopediac knowledge and ability to write clearly and concisely. Without meaning to impart too much hyperbole or paranoia, I've been among those who say we're in the '30s again. Never in my life have I seen such abject Jew hatred (Zionist hatred. Israel hatred. It's all the same.) accepted in 'polite company.' And TNR is (or used to be) polite company. These are troubling times for sure.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judis (these characters are named by Damon Runyan, right?) has to write a revisionist history (as did Zinn, another Runyan-named character with Biblical proportioned evil in his heart).

But Obama and his dinner mate Rashid Khalidi...would they be even a centimeter off all four squares with Judis?

How about Ayers?

Frank Marshall Davis?

John Kerry or Hagel?

Valerie Jarrett?

Samantha Powers, Robert Malley, Susan Rice?

Jeremiah Wright?

The Nation of Islam?

There may be Christians, Catholics and Evangelicals who support Israel because of a devotion to Christ and the New Testament.

But this country by and large backs Israel because it has honor to do so and lacks honor to be in concert with a Judas, no matter how you spell it. It is not the structure of the particular church that moves them, it is the structure of the teachings about honor that they adhere to.

26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
My guess is that the opinions of John Judis, as well as Max Blumenthal and the BDS movement, are no different from those of Obama and his closest associates.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unsurprisingly, the sane Jews in Israel want to survive, and so will never accept a bi-ethnic state, something that even if created in 1948, without the additional bad blood since than, would have meant the end of Jewish life in the area in a few generations, except for small minorities living (and many times dying) at the will of Muslim majorities.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judis knows more about where to order lunch than he does about Jewish history.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
He should officially change his name to "Judas."
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have heard rumors that Truman was himself a crypto-Jew. Judis is very likely pulling shite out of his arse, but Truman may have also been showing symptoms of Jewish self-hate, something all too pervasive on the American left.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't understand why some guy who goes to great lengths to bash Israel, the only legitimate and successful democratic state in the middle east, even gets any attention at all.

I'm sure I couldn't sit through any pretentious academic presentation on this topic without throwing things. Or worse.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
Judis: TS......Israel is to stay. Deal with that, or AMF.
26 weeks ago
26 weeks ago Link To Comment
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