Had the Arab League accepted the U.N. resolution on Palestine partition adopted on Nov. 29, 1947, they would be enjoying a state now for 63 years. The proposal was adopted despite what seemed overwhelming opposition from the United States bloc and the Soviet Union bloc. It called for a Jewish state and Arab state side by side with strong economic ties. The positive vote was a landmark establishing the legitimacy of the Jewish homeland. The adoption seemed miraculous. The Soviet Union had long banned Zionism. Prominent Zionists were in the Gulag. Jewish government officials were arrested; poets and other intelligentsia lost their platforms and even were murdered. Arabs received advanced weapons.
The State Department, a home of anti-Semites at the time, vigorously opposed Jewish statehood; Secretary of State George C. Marshall, fearing danger to U.S. oil interests, advised President Harry S. Truman to push trusteeship. Zionists found Eddie Jacobson, a business partner of Truman's after World War I, and urged him to ask the president to speak with Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist movement.
Jacobson said: "I never asked you for anything all these years, but I ask you to see Chaim Weizmann, an old man. He has come 7,000 miles to see you."
Weizmann came and reminded Truman that he would be remembered in world history as the man who made biblical history come true if he ordered acceptance of the partition resolution.
So last minute were the events that Truman called away Warren Austin, America's U.N. delegate, for trusteeship, rather than a state for Palestine.
After Austin, Andre Gromyko, the Soviet representative, to the amazement of all, urged acceptance of the resolution. He told of the long history of anti-Semitism endured by Jews. The resolution passed; the rest is history. David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, who was non-observant, said: "To live in Israel is to believe in miracles."
Philip Rosen is the author of three books on Jewish history, and lectures at area colleges and JCCs.