From the very beginning of his presidency Truman was pushed into the Zionist camp by David Niles who had retained his position as chief advisor to the Roosevelt White House on Zionist concerns.
Niles (and later, special presidential counsel and ardent gentile Zionist, Clark Clifford) worked in tandem with Eliahu Epstein, head of the Zionist Organization’s Washington office to keep the president on course by constantly emphasizing the importance of the Jewish vote and reminding him that he could only be assured of it by supporting Zionism. (Epstein later adopted the Hebrew name Elath and became Israel’s first ambassador to the United States).
According to James Forrestal, Truman’s future secretary of defense, Niles and Clifford were “the principal architects of Truman’s pro-Zionist policy that was based on ‘squalid political purposes [even though] United States policy should be based on United States national interests and not on domestic political considerations.'” (“Diary Entry for October 21, 1948, by the Secretary of Defense Forrestal),” FRUS 1948, p. 1501; cited by Neff Fallen Pillars, p. 29)
Niles managed to minimize the influence of the State Department on formulating the U.S. position in the debate over the Partition Plan: “…David Niles was able to have Truman appoint a pro-Zionist, General John Hilldring, to the United Nations’ American delegation to offset the views of the appointees from the State Department. Through Hilldring, Niles established a direct liaison between the United Nations and Truman; indeed, U.S. positions were occasionally relayed directly from the White House without the State Department’s having been consulted.
Thus, for example, after a private conversation with Chaim Weizmann, Truman phoned the U.N. delegation and told them to reverse American backing for the Arab claim that the Negev (southern Palestine) should be part of an Arab state; the United States would support its inclusion in the Jewish state as recommended in UNSCOP’s majority proposal.” (Charles D. Smith, Palestine and the Arab/Israeli Conflict, p. 139)
In 1962, Niles declared: “there are serious doubts in my mind that Israel would have come into being if Roosevelt had lived.” (Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, Jews and the New American Scene, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 1995 p. 121)
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[10/9/2017 2:11:28 AM]
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