Truman, American Jewry, and Israel, 1945-1948

Truman, American Jewry, and Israel, 1945-1948

Truman, American Jewry, and Israel, 1945-1948

Truman, American Jewry, and Israel, 1945-1948

Excerpt

The Zionist idea, Dr. Chaim Weizmann declared in 1917, was never built "on the sufferings of our people in Russia or elsewhere. These sufferings were never the cause of Zionism. The fundamental cause of Zionism was, and is, the ineradicable national striving of Jewry to have a home of its own -- a national center, a national home with a national life." This centuries-old Jewish yearning for sovereignty in Palestine was translated into action through Theodor Herzl's founding (1897) of the Zionist movement which also envisioned an economic and social transformation of the Jewish people combined with a revival of the Hebrew culture.

Starting in 1882, when Palestine was still a part of the Ottoman Empire, the number of Jewish immigrants and agricultural settlements increased steadily. Thus, on the eve of World War I, the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) totaled eighty-five thousand people living in the four holy cities of Safed, Tiberias, Jerusalem, and Hebron, in the new town of Tel-Aviv, and in forty-four other new settlements.

World War I was a turning point in Zionist history. Through Dr. Chaim Weizmann's efforts, the Zionist movement emerged as a political force capable of aiding vital British interests. The British-Zionist entente was cemented in November 1917 through the issuance of the Balfour Declaration and the subsequent League of Nations (British) Mandate. The former recognized the "historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine," while the latter entrusted Great Britain with the task of the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." The Mandate also recognized the World Zionist Organization as the Jewish agency responsible for the implementation of the Jewish national home.

Arab leaders opposed the British Mandate based on the Balfour Declaration. This opposition to Zionist aspirations manifested itself through the sending of Arab delegations to London, through protests, and periodically even through violent and bloody attacks on Jewish lives and property in 1920, 1921, and 1929. These attacks culminated in the so-called Arab Revolt of 1936-38, which broke out in response to a sharp increase in Jewish immigration fed mainly by large numbers of refugees from Nazi persecution. It was the last Arab attempt to maintain, by force, the Arab character of Palestine.

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