Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Middle Eastern Studies

Advisor

Simon Davis

Subject Categories

Islamic World and Near East History | Jewish Studies | Political History | United States History

Keywords

Truman Administration, Zionism, Balfour Declaration, Harrison Report, Anglo-American Committee, UN Partition Plan of 1947

Abstract

Following World War II, with the strength of Britain shattered by economic exhaustion and the rising influence of the United States in post-war international policies, the Zionist commitment to Jewish statehood intensified, driven even more urgently by the specter of the Holocaust atrocities. Meanwhile, warfare in Palestine both between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs and between the Jews and Britain increased tension in the region to such a point that Britain decided in February 1947 to withdraw from its obligations under the Mandate for Palestine. It left to the United Nations (UN) the challenge of finding a workable resolution to the Jewish-Arab conflict.

President Harry Truman, successor to the presidency upon the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1945, mistrusted the British bureaucracy and had no intention of striking up a close political partnership with British politicians. Between 1945 and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, America and Britain, each in their own way and driven by their own regional interests, worked hard to find a satisfactory solution for Palestine. Influenced by his White House advisors and World Zionist leaders, Truman supported the Zionist cause. It is not unlikely that the presidential election looming in 1948 kept him focused on it despite the opposition of the U.S. State Department. That part of the administration, opposed such policy based on its concerns over the strategic significance of oil and the political cross-currents in the Middle East.

Conversely, Britain, far more anti-Zionist in its proclivities and less inclined to resolve the matter, was determined to maintain its imperial ties and relationships with the Arab world. This desire was made even more strategic in light of Britain’s diminishment during the preceding World Wars. Essentially, both the American State Department and the British Foreign Office underestimated the resourcefulness of the Zionists. This miscalculation redounded to the favor of the Zionists, who emerged victorious from the vote on the 1947 UN Partition Plan, with its recognition of the validity of a Jewish state. This success owed much to the White House staff and the President and, thus, to the U.S. election of 1948.

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