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What Drove Truman’s Presidential Policy on Israel? Threats by Jews.

President Harry S. Truman in the Oval Office on July 9, 1948. PHOTO: Politico/AP

Editor Note: This is added color on my article and podcast with Tim Kelly on the assassination of James Forrestal. We also covered Forrestal in the Operation Scorpio podcast.

Among all of the past presidents, there’s good transparency about the inner workings and thoughts of No. 33 (1945-1953), Harry S. Truman (1884-1972). One source of insight was his daughter, Margaret Truman Daniel (1924-2008), who wrote his biography published shortly before his death.

Margaret had access to many of Truman’s personal notes that revealed the inside story of the establishment of Israel in Palestinian lands. The New York Times on Dec. 2, 1972, reported, “’The so‐called Stern gang’ of Zionist terrorists tried to assassinate President Truman by letter‐bomb in 1947.”

What Drove Truman to Recognize Israel

In his 1997 book “Truman and the Founding of Israel,” Michael Benson indicated that the president was a typical American evangelical wingnut. As such, he was sucked into the idea of Israel as an outgrowth of his religious upbringing and his familiarity with the Bible. As a U.S. senator from Missouri (1935-1945), he had been a member of the American Palestine Committee, a Christian Zionist group and even lent his name to the Committee for a Jewish Army.

Truman the man tended to show sympathy to underdogs, which in 1945 he felt applied to Europe’s displaced Jews. However, as the Zionists got the upper hand in Palestine and began to steamroll Palestinians, Truman had second thoughts.

At that time, the State Department still had a cadre that wanted friendly relations with Arabs. There are numerous documents that correctly predicted permanent crisis and disruption, if Israel was to be established as a Jewish state. In particular, Secretary of State George Marshall and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal worked not only against the idea of an Israeli state, but also to counter the migration of Jews from Europe to Palestine.

Truman was subjected to intense Zionist lobbying. A senior member of the State Department described a 1946 visit to New York when a group of Jews called upon Truman.

[Alan Taylor, op. cit. p.93] “Emmanuel  Cellar was the head of this committee. Rabbi Steven Wise and several others were in it. They called upon Mr. Truman and said, ‘We have just  been talking with Mr. Thomas Dewey. He is willing to come out and declare for a Jewish state, and we are going to turn our money and urge the Jews to vote for him unless you beat him to it.’ Then Emmanuel Cellar pounded upon Mr. Truman’s desk and said, ‘And if you don’t come out for a Jewish state we’ll run you out of town.’ This, I’m sure, is the threat that Mr. Truman refers to in his book, saying, ‘The extreme Zionists threatened me.’ Emmanuel Cellar, Rabbi Steven Wise were not the extreme Zionists, they were the run of the mill Zionists.

“The Diaries of Truman” later revealed his thoughts on dealing with Zionist Jews.

“The Jews, I find, are very, very selfish,” Truman wrote in July 1947, 10 months before David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence. “They care not how many Estonians, Latvians, Finns, Poles, Yugoslavs or Greeks get murdered or mistreated as D[isplaced] P[ersons] as long as the Jews get special treatment.” He continued: “When they have power, physical, financial or political neither Hitler nor Stalin has anything on them for cruelty or mistreatment to the underdog. Truman wrote. “The Jews have no sense of proportion nor do they have any judgement on world affairs.

By 1947, there were problems in Europe with the Zionists. In a secret CIA assessment submitted to Truman on Aug. 13, 1947, U.S. Military Governor Gen. Lucius D. Clay reported that anti-Semitism was growing very sharply among the ranks of the U.S. military units in the American zones of Austria and Germany because of the violent, asocial and criminal behavior of the eastern European DPs, all of whom were Jewish. He recommended that these DPs be allowed to enter Palestine before some incident occurred with American soldiers — who had been beaten, robbed and killed by Jewish DPs — that could lead to severe spontaneous reactions on the part of other soldiers. His views were strongly seconded by Deputy British Military Gov. Sir Brian Robertson.

Read: Did US Treasury Secretary Morganthau Provide Currency Printing Plates to Soviets? And the Instrumental Role of Mole Harry White

Meanwhile, on Aug. 5, 1947, in England, anti-Jewish outbreaks resulted in five days of rock throwing, window-smashing and other incidents, including daubing Jewish businesses with swastikas and numerous assaults on British Jews. These incidents occurred in Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff (Wales), Leeds, London and Birmingham as retaliation for the murder by Jewish gangs of two British sergeants in Palestine, and Menachem Begin’s, Irgun bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 22, 1946 in which 91 persons were killed.

Soon afterward, Truman agreed to the partition of Palestine. However, this resulted in a rebellion within the State Department. In a note written on March, 1948, Truman complained that “The State Dept. pulled the rug from under me” in a statement contrary to his own policy on the Palestine question. Truman assured Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader, that the U.S. backed the idea of partitioning Palestine between the Arabs and the Jews. But the following day, Ambassador Warren Austin made a statement to the contrary at the United Nations — which occasioned Truman’s bitter remark about the State Department.

In 1991, pro-Zionist Defense Secretary Clark Clifford described the hardball lobbying (this link is good) for the original partition. Partition was adopted only after ruthless arm twisting by the U.S. government and by 26 pro-Zionist U.S. senators; who, in telegrams to a number of U.N. member states, warned that U.S. goodwill in rebuilding their World War II-devastated economies might depend on a favorable vote for partition.

On March 5, 1948 the Jewish Agency stated that large-scale Jewish arms shipments were ready in various Mediterranean ports destined for the arming of Jewish partisans in Palestine to “fight and drive out” the Arab population of what the Agency stated “was eternal Jewish land” that could not be occupied by either the British or the Arabs.

On April 9, 1948 , in Jerusalem – Irgun and Stern gang terrorists stormed an Arab suburb, Dir Yashin, killing 250 Arabs, half of them women and children.

At this point Truman saw that the partition was a disaster. Drew Pearson, a Zionist hack, stated that Truman had told a New York publisher that New York Jews were “disloyal” to the U.S. Truman was heard referring to New York City as the “U.S. capital of Israel.”

Truman seeing the handwriting on the wall reversed course.  American author Gore Vidal provided  insight.

“Sometime in the late 1950s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. ‘That’s why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast’ … the serene corruption of American politics.”

Editor note- the Zionist bag man was Abraham Feinberg.

It’s uncertain whether it’s factual or just more lies, but it has been said that a transcript of a conversation between Undersecretary of State Robert A. Lovett and World Jewish Congress co-founder Nahum Goldmann was found in Goldmann’s papers in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem.

Lovett reportedly said, “Anti-Semitism is mounting in an unprecedented way in groups and circles which are very influential and were never touched by Anti-Semitism. Such a White Paper would do great harm to the Jews in this country, and once it is published, I am not sure that outstanding Jewish leaders who are helping you today would go along with you.” This White Paper focused on dual loyalty.

After Israel became a fait accompli in 1948, the counteroffensive ended. America Firsters George Marshall left his position and James Forrestal was thrown out of a window and murdered. Both the Pentagon and the State Department earnestly embraced Israel. The Arabists in State were quickly reduced and co-opted by pro-Zionists. The burgeoning Zionist lobby continued to flex its muscle within the Democratic Party.

9 Comments on What Drove Truman’s Presidential Policy on Israel? Threats by Jews.

  1. On this one, I do recall something about old Harry being influenced by a friend of his who worked for Harry’s failed haberdashery. If I have a moment later, I can try to find the gentleman’s name; however, right now it eludes me.

    The story went something along the lines of Harry was speaking with this man all the time, since there was no business, and began to really understand the plight of the Jewish people or something like this. Actually, it might have been here:

    I received that text for Christmas a very long time ago and this information that I am referencing may have come from this source. Unfortunately, I do not have this books anymore, so I am not sure I can confirm it.


    • Wow, nice design…see folks I had to change mail accounts this morning (long story) and so it is the same Simple, but I guess WP gave me a new and improved design.

      Sort of fitting since the new one looks a bit more autumnal, and depending on where you may be, we are either in the autumn or about to enter it (Mrs. Simple says it will be at 3:21 PM in Washington, DC – looking forward to it).

      I hope everyone has a good autumn in this 2021 year.

      All my best,

  2. One last post for today…I may stop back for responses, or conversation, or such a bit later.

    This thread got me thinking (while grinding a little more coffee) about a text, which I do recommend:

    It fits in with this thread and discusses the history both before Harry and after Harry. Ms. Weir does present some ideas that are worth consideration; those ideas also fit with the mirror that RW posted as a thread regarding 50% of Americans wishing to cut aid to Israel.

    All my best,

  3. There is so much to unlearn! Spot on….And you know you’re on the right track when this guy starts to make sense as a Presidential Candidate…

  4. Here’s a little tidbit my wife was privy to: At a Democratic Convention subsequent to his Presidency, Truman was hauled to New York to give a speech or attend some kind of smoky boiler room confab. How she learned this was working for the Rice Family at their estate and meeting this guy Ben Kosavar (or Cosavar or something like that) who was the guy who got Stanley Kubrick the job at Look Magazine and was the photo editor at the time. He was also some kind of intelligence spook and an aviation enthusiast and I would say was the one who Kubrick learned the internal layout of the B52 bomber featured in Dr Strangelove which was supposedly TOP SECRET at that time. He has some kind of Truman connection as did this family who are big real estate barons in NYC.Henry Hart Rice ( Anyway, the daughter sits on a fortune and a fair number of secrets.

    He had entered the Scottish Rite Lodge of Perfection and Chapter Rose Croix in Kansas City in 1912 and completed the Scottish Rite Degrees in 1917 before going on active duty.

    In 1919, through the York Rite, President Truman received the Chapter and Council degrees in Kansas City. In 1923, he was also honored as a Knight Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine in Mary Conclave, Kansas City.

    President Truman was created a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Ararat Temple, Kansas City in 1917. He served as Orator of the Temple in 1933 and Second Ceremonial Master in 1934. After his election to the United States Senate that year, he had to resign from the divan line due to his Grand Lodge and official duties.

    He was appointed District Deputy Grand Master and Lecturer for the newly formed 59th Masonic District in 1925, serving until 1930. Shortly after this, he entered the Missouri Grand Lodge line and served the state as Grand Master in 1940-41. He was only the second Masonic President to serve as a Grand Master.

    It was during Mr. Truman’s term that the Missouri Lodge of Research was reorganized. He served as Master of that Lodge in 1950, while he was President.

    Although President Truman’s primary Masonic interest was the Blue Lodge, he did belong to most appendant bodies. In the Scottish Rite, he was honored by being coroneted as a 33* Honorary, in October, 1945. This was for his service to this country and to Freemasonry. He was the, only President to that time to be accorded this honor. He was awarded the Gourgas Medal by the Northern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite for “notably distinguished service in the cause of Freemasonry, humanity or country.”

    On 26 December 1972, Harry S. Truman passed to the Grand Lodge beyond.


    The Supreme Council, 33º, SJ, USA
    1733 16th St. NW
    Washington, DC 20009
    Contact Detail
    T: 202–232–3579
    F: 202–464–0487

    The Jewish role in the formation and leadership of Scottish Rite Masonry
    — by: Samuel Oppenheim, 1910-02,
    source: American Jewish Historical Quarterly, Vol 19
    MHP hypertext version for non-profit educational use only
    Table of Contents
    MHP Editor’s Preface
    About this article
    1. Introduction
    Jewish leaders in the early history of American Masonry
    2. Massachusetts
    Moses M. Hays and the formation of Scottish Rite Masonry
    3. Rhode Island
    Dutch Jews bring the Masonic rituals to America
    4. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut
    Little activity reported
    5. New York, New Jersey
    King David’s Lodge
    6. Pennsylvania
    The Sublime Lodge of Perfection and Congregation Mikveh Israel
    7. Delaware, Maryland
    Joseph Myers
    8. Virginia
    The Richmond Lodge and Congregation Beth Shalom
    9. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia
    The Supreme Council and Congregation Beth Elohim of Charleston
    10. Conclusion

    MHP Editor’s Preface

    This article, written by a Jewish historian, describes the role of prominent Jews and their congregations in the formation and leadership of Masonic lodges prior to, during and after the American Revolution.

    During the war, several of them retreated from the coastal cities of New York and Charleston to the relative safety of Philadelphia, meeting place of the Continental Congress and the first capital of the United States.

    After the war, leading Jewish Masons including Moses M. Hays and his deputies founded the “Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite” at Charleston, the largest Masonic order in America, under charter from their European colleagues (see chapter 9).

    Rabbi Issac M. Wise, himself a Mason, was the founder of “Reform Judaism” which is the largest Jewish sect in America. In his newsletter The Israelite, he wrote:

    “Masonry is a Jewish institution whose history, degrees, charges, passwords, and explanations are Jewish from the beginning to the end, with the exception of only one by-degree and a few words in the obligation… It is impossible to be well posted in Masonry without having a Jewish teacher…”
    — Isaac M. Wise, The Israelite, 03-Aug-1855, pg. 28

    The article is divided geographically rather than chronologically, and is somewhat difficult to follow since many of the players mentioned appear in several places. It contains copious footnotes and detail, and has been reproduced here in its entirety. For easier online reading, section headings have been added that do not appear in the original text, which is available at the source listed above.

    In an article in Moore’s Freemason’s Monthly Magazine, Vol. XV., p. 183 (Boston, April, 1856), the editor, commenting on the religious views of several Jewish ministers, took occasion to make the following remarks in regard to what had been said by the then late Mordecai M. Noah:
    “We have understood that Dr. Noah was a Mason, but know not how that may have been. [1]

    With his liberal views there is certainly nothing in Masonry to which he could have taken exception. Many of the most eminent of his Jewish brethren were in his day filling high and honorable places in the fraternity. The Grand Lodges of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Louisiana, and perhaps some others, have at different times elevated distinguished brethren of the Jewish faith to the dignity of Grandmastership. They were gentlemen and Masons of enlarged views and liberal minds; and by the exercise of a tolerant spirit and a courteous bearing towards those who differed from them in matters of conscience endeared themselves to their Christian brethren, and contributed largely to elevate the social position of those to whom they were allied by ties of kindred blood.”

    In line with the first part of this quotation is the following excerpt from an editorial by Dr. Isaac M. Wise, [2] in The Israelite for August 3, 1855:
    “Masonry is a Jewish institution whose history, degrees, charges, passwords, and explanations are Jewish from the beginning to the end, with the exception of only one by-degree and a few words in the obligation.” [E1]

    Dr. Wise, in a further editorial on August 17, 1855, also said:
    “The beauty and pride of Masonry is its universal character, its tendency to fraternize mankind, and its being free from the elements which have been ever the efficient causes of hatred, persecution, fraud, and rude barbarism.”

    That the connection of Jews with Masonry in the early history of the United States was of benefit to them, as well as that it was to the advancement of the Order, is probably true, though little has been written on the subject by Jewish historians. An examination of the various publications accessible here, relating to Masonry, reveals the names of Jews who have been often mentioned in works treating of their race, and who have been representative men in their respective States. Their names appear in lists of members of the subordinate and Grand Lodges of many of the original thirteen States. They were, however, always a small minority in the few lodges with which they were connected.

    Among their fellow members or those with whom they were brought into relation through Masonry were men prominent in the affairs of the nation. Several Jews are known to have been members of the lodge with which Governor Oglethorpe, of Georgia, was connected. In the lodge to which Washington belonged, a Jew, as will be shown, was a member. Jews, also, were members of the lodge to which belonged Edmund Randolph and John Marshall, of Virginia, and DeWitt Clinton, of New York, all of whom were Grand Masters in their respective States. In Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina prominent non-Jewish names are likewise met with as members of lodges to which Jews were admitted. The relationship of the Jews to the Order brought them naturally more directly in contact with their Christian brethren than would otherwise have probably been the case, and the respect and esteem with which the individual members of the race were regarded no doubt tended to the advantage of their co-religionists as a body.

    A connection with Masonry may possibly be traced through the letters written to President Washington in 1790 by the Jewish congregations of Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Charleston, as many of the members of those congregations were, like Washington, Masons. In one case, the presiding officer of one of these congregations who, as such, made his well-known address to Washington, also at the same time, in his capacity as Master of a Masonic lodge, made a further address to the President of the United States. Reference to this will be made in treating of Rhode Island.

    It is impossible to obtain here, other than through the printed Records of the Grand Lodges of the various States and of a few of their subordinate lodges, satisfactory information as to the character of the early membership of those lodges, and even the information so obtainable is somewhat meagre. If arrangements could be made with those connected with the Masonic fraternity in each State for an examination of the lists of members of the various subordinate lodges existing in the early history of Masonry in the United States, many additional Jewish names could no doubt be brought to light, and fuller details obtained for biographical and historical purposes.

    Freemasonry is said to have been established as a regular institution in the colonies through duly constituted lodges deriving their authority from the Grand Lodge of England, about the year 1727, although prior to that time it may have been practiced here without regard to warrant or charter. The active work of the Order, as an independent American organization, however, did not really begin until during and after the Revolution, when the Republic had begun to live. According to a writing confirming a tradition, which Masonic historians refuse to accept, as uncorroborated, although accepting in other cases traditions as binding, Jews may be said to have had the honor of being among the first, if not the first, to work the degrees of Masonry in this country, by bringing these with them on their arrival in Rhode Island in 1658. This subject will be discussed later on.

    The results of the limited investigation the writer has been able to make among the printed records to be found at the Grand Lodge library in Masonic Hall in New York, and in the Astor, Lenox, Columbia University, and New York Historical Society libraries, have been incorporated in this paper, which does not pretend to be complete, and are submitted as a slight contribution to the history of the Jews in this country and as a basis for further work. Many of the earlier records have either been lost or destroyed, and there has always been some difficulty, according to the historians of the subject, in getting the officers of the subordinate lodges to search their archives for information. The influence of the Order in the early history of the United States is so well known that the connection of the Jews with it at that time, forming part of the same influence, justifies this contribution, incomplete though it maybe.

    The greatest activity among the Jews in Masonry was displayed in this country during the latter part of the eighteenth century in Rhode Island, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania, where they were largely settled. The names of many of the leading members of the Jewish congregations in those States are to be found in lists of members of Masonic lodges. Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, and Georgia also give evidence of their early relation to the fraternity. Mention is made of Jews as Masons in New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Delaware where they had not settled in numbers; while no mention is to be found, so far as ascertainable from the printed records, of Jewish Masons in Maine and Vermont.

    1. M. M. Noah was admitted a member of Independent Royal Arch Lodge, No. 2, in New York, in 1825. See By-Laws and List of Members of that lodge.
    2. Dr. Wise was a Mason. See “Reminiscences of Isaac M. Wise”, by Rev. Dr. David Philipson, p. 264.
    Editor’s notes:
    E1. Isaac M. Wise, editorial in The Israelite, 1855-08-03, pg. 28. Rabbi Wise was not only a Mason, but also a founder and leader of the “Reform” sect, now the largest Jewish sect in America.
    ““Masonry is a Jewish institution whose history, degrees, charges, passwords, and explanations are Jewish from the beginning to the end, with the exception of only one by-degree and a few words in the obligation… It is impossible to be well posted in Masonry without having a Jewish teacher…”

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