Global Politics

Israel's 60th anniversary

RH says Truman made the move to recognize Israel despite adamant opposition from his top foreign police advisors: the entire foreign policy establishment all opposed recognizing the new Jewish state which didn't have a name at the time. Truman decided he wanted to overrule them and it was a dramatic battle. (What was the mentality at the time?) I've asked a lot of the survivors whether anti-Semitism was a factor, some said yes, some said no. but the Secretary of Defense at the time put it bluntly: there were 30 million Arabs, 6 million Jews, a lot of oil and this would not be good for us. the American public was intensely sympathetic to the Jewish cause because they were learning for the first time about what had happened in concentration camps. (Who was Truman listening to then?) One was a partner of his from Kansas City who was Jewish. That partner told him to meet the man who would become the first President of Israel, who then made a very eloquent plea to Truman and Truman promised him he would meet Israel. The other one is his young aid, Clark Clifford. Truman did experience huge opposition from his Secretary of State who Truman had great admiration for. (What about the relationship between the US and Israel now?) The relationship has gone through many ups and downs. (Place President Bush is that assessment.) Bush has said he is Israel's best friend, but I don't think he's always served Israel's best interests, most notably in 2006 when he and Secretary of State Rice pushed hard to have Hamas participate in Palestinian elections. As a result now there's no single Palestinian authority. (You've been supporting Hillary Clinton, but where does this all leave the next US President with Israel?) I will support Obama if he becomes the nominee but there won't be much difference rhetorically between any three of the major candidates, but the big differences will come with Iran. The Democrats say they'll try to establish a diplomatic relationship with Iran, and I think the Bush administration made a tremendous mistake by talking to Iran through the European Union. Why didn't they talk to them directly? (That's what Bush seems to call appeasement. With Iran exerting a stronger hand in the region currently, will the options be more limited?) Talking is not appeasement, it depends what you say, but talking is just talking. Bush made some progress in North Korea when he decided to talk there, he should do the same in Iran. I would make a sharp distinction also with a non-state terrorist organization like Al Qaeda and the Iranians, who are an odious group of people but the leaders of a country with a long tradition.

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