Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On My Nightstand: A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, by Ronald and Allis Radosh, recounts the events leading up to the founding of the state of Israel, specifically examining the conduct of President Truman and those advising him on the matter.

It examines the conduct of the US and British following the end of World War II and the way that the Jewish population in Europe clamored to gain access to Palestine, which was under British control since the end of World War I. Not all Americans involved in handling the Jewish DPs (displaced persons) were humane in the matter. In fact, Gen. George Patton, who was responsible for the Southern Zone of Europe, where most Jewish DPs were located, was particularly vile (page 73):
Patton's Third Army controlled the southern zone, where most Jewish DPs were to be found. The camps Patton was responsible for had barbed wire and were patrolled by armed guards. Patton wrote in his diary on September 15 that others "believe that the Displaced Person is a human being, which he is not, and this applies particularly to the Jews who are lower than animals." The Jews had to be kept under armed guard, Patton explained, otherwise they would flee, "spread over the country like locusts," and then be rounded up and some of them shot, only after they had "murdered and pillaged" innocent Germans.
Those advising President Truman saw the treatment of the Jews in those camps and urged Truman to act, and he eventually came to support the partition of Israel and then the recognition of Israel's existence on May 14, 1948.

It is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the backdrop for Israel's creation.

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