Truman, Palestine, and the Press: Shaping Conventional Wisdom at the Beginning of the Cold War

Truman, Palestine, and the Press: Shaping Conventional Wisdom at the Beginning of the Cold War

Truman, Palestine, and the Press: Shaping Conventional Wisdom at the Beginning of the Cold War

Truman, Palestine, and the Press: Shaping Conventional Wisdom at the Beginning of the Cold War

Synopsis

In this book, Evensen analyzes the role of the mass media, public opinion, and the Zionists in the evolution of America's Palestine policy during the Truman administration. Taking issue with recent revisionist historians who argue that Truman had little difficulty manipulating public opinion, he claims that the press and an aroused public opinion successfully frustrated the President's course on Palestine and elicited his support of the United Nations' partition of Jewish and Arab states and Truman's early recognition of Israel.

Excerpt

My interest in the relationship of policymaking, the press and the public in the construction of the Truman administration's Cold War Palestine policy began in the spring of 1983. I was based in West Jerusalem working out of the Binyanei Haooma, the Israeli convention center, that served as headquarters for news bureaus serving much of the Western world. The West Germans, the French, the Dutch, the Swiss, the Japanese, and the Americans all shared cramped office space in a building designed to facilitate transmission of their stories home.

Western correspondents worked and relaxed as a community within a community enclosed in common experiences which led to a sharing and deepening of their conventional wisdom. Military patrols took reporters to the same stories at the same time, to interview the same people who told the same stories, which were cleared through the same censor and transmitted at the same time via satellite to editors, who may or may not have been aware of the sameness of the stuff they were getting. When the day's work was done, reporters often joined one another at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem to trade drinks with the wire service guys and the network news bosses. Everyone watched and read everyone else's work and monitored the British Broadcasting Company repeater station in Cyprus as well as Kol Israel, the radio voice of Israel, the Israeli press and Jordan's English language newscast; and if they did not, their editors made sure that they did.

It soon became apparent that the demand from editors was not to report everything that one knew or could be known about the conflict in the Middle East, nor even something new. One was instead expected to report all or most of what everyone else did, and more or less at the same time. Efficiency, not enterprise, was behind professional advancement, if not survival. A reporter failed to meet the expectation of an editor at his or her . . .

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