A Few Humble Coins and the Making of Israel

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 is largely a result of President Truman and his administration.

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Dewey D. Stone and Golda Meir,

Jerusalem, November 1958. Courtesy of

American Jewish Historical Society

Jacobson hopped a train for Washington and, according to Eban, walked in unannounced on his old friend, the President of the United States. Truman was happy to see Jacobson, but reluctant to be pressured about the Zionist issue. Stymied, Jacobson pointed to the bust of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office and told Truman, "Weizmann was a national leader cast in the same mould and temperament as the great Tennessee President whom Truman revered." Truman laughed, made an off-color remark and told Jacobson to make an appointment for Weizmann to see him.

On March 18, 1948, the two leaders met in Washington. Truman promised Weizmann to continue to work on behalf of the establishment of Israel. He also vowed that, when the British Mandate expired on May 14, 1948, he would recognize the state immediately. Moments after midnight on May 14, as the British withdrew, Weizmann declared the creation of Israel. True to his word, Truman immediately extended recognition on behalf of the United States. "It was evident," Eban concludes, "that Dewey Stone together with Frank Goldman and with the aid of a few humble coins had been able to make a deep impact on the central issues affecting Jewish destiny." One might add that Eddie Jacobson's plain talk to his friend, Harry Truman, helped prevent a change in American policy toward Israel and, possibly, the course of modern Jewish history.

 

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Michael Feldberg

Michael Feldberg, Ph.D. is executive director of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom. From 1991 to 2004, he served as executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society, the nation's oldest ethnic historical organization, and from 2004 to 2008 was its director of research.