How Harry Truman Crossed His Own State Department to Recognize Israel in 1948

In the moments leading up to Israel’s independence, America’s diplomats did everything they could to stop the process, and the president, cold.

President Harry Truman and Defense Secretary George C. Marshall in 1951. Getty.

President Harry Truman and Defense Secretary George C. Marshall in 1951. Getty.

Response
April 16 2018
About the author

Efraim Karsh is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London, and editor of the Middle East Quarterly. He is the author most recently of The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East (Bloomsbury, 2015).


As Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary, Martin Kramer has shed fresh light on a key event in the days immediately preceding the proclamation of the state. This was the marathon meeting of the People’s Administration, soon to become the state’s provisional government, on May 12, 1948. Among the topics on the participants’ minds was the massive international campaign, led by the U.S. Department of State, to postpone any declaration of independence until such time as a UN-sponsored truce could pacify the situation in Palestine, where Arab anti-Jewish agitation was at a high pitch.

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More about: History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Declaration of Independence