U.S. recognition of Israel in 1948

Here is the document – marked up by Truman himself:

Truman letter of 14 May 1948

It might be said that this was the first U.S. recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, though a whole polemic has grown up around Truman’s personally crossing out the second reference on the document…

More recently, Glenn Kessler wrote from Washington in the Washington Post late last year (2 October 2010) that former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, in a speech in November 2001, that “Palestinians must eliminate any doubt, once and for all, that they accept the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state“.

After an internet search, I found this Colin Powell speech posted here and here.

BUT, Kessler wrote in his recent WPost (or WAPO) article, “Powell doesn’t recall how the phrase ended up in his speech” … “David Ivry, then Israeli amb to US, says he ‘persuaded an aide’to slip Jewish state reference in Colin Powell 2001 speech…Kessler wrote that David Ivry said he contacted Powell aide Richard Armitage, but Powell said that he asked and Armitage doesn’t remember this either … However, Kessler reported, “Aaron David Miller…who wrote 1st draft of Powell speech, said..[the reference to the need for Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state]..didn’t ring many alarm bells“… This October 2010 article by Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post is published here.

So, the Israeli Ambassador whispered into the ears of some U.S. State Department officials, and Powell mentioned it in his 2001 speech — and now only Aaron David Miller remembers how the reference [to the need for Palestinian acceptance of “the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State”] got into the this Powell speech?!

Next reference is a clear Israeli demand, in point 13 of Ariel Sharon’s May 2003 list of 14 “reservations”, or objections, to the American/European/Quartet’s Road Map: “In connection to both the introductory statements and the final settlement, declared references must be made to Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state”…

Then, it comes up again only in 2007, as a demand (ignored by Palestinian negotiators by Ehud Olmert at the start of the American-led Annapolis process of Direct Negotiations…

Now, it is an insistent demand of Benyamin Netanyahu (recognition as a Jewish State, or alternative version as the “state of the Jewish people:) every time the American administration of Barack Obama mentions anything about resuming talks with the Palestinians…

And recently Obama has shown, again [in his two speeches in May, the first at the State Department, the second to AIPAC], that for the U.S., at least, there is no problem to say that Israel is a Jewish State, or the homeland of the Jewish people. Obama’s words, in May, were: “A lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people”.
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If Palestinians want UN membership, they will be punished + fined

A report published by PNN here says that first the Executive Committee and then the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] met in Ramallah and agreed to approve the proposed “UN bid” for full UN membership of the State of Palestine at the United Nations in September. PNN reported tht Mahmoud Abbas, head of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said that “the US has not officially announced its opposition to the Palestinian effort, despite widespread belief that they will veto the proposal at the Security Council. Abbas said 122 countries have already recognized the Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. On another matter, Abbas said the Palestinian national authority is facing a great economic crisis.
The PLO central committee demanded Arab nations provide the needed financial support to the Palestinian Authority due to the financial crisis and its inability to pay the salaries of its employees. Bilal al-Shakhshier, from the Palestinian national council, told PNN that the financial crisis the Palestinian Authority is suffering from is due to pressures some countries are implementing to force the Palestinian leadership from going through with the state bid in September”.


Meanwhile, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported from Ramallah that “The Palestinians will approach the UN Security Council in September to seek full membership in the global body, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Wednesday. ‘We are going to the Security Council through a request to the secretary general of the United Nations to seek full membership in the UN and recognition of Palestine on the 1967 borders’, he said … ‘The choice of peace is our choice … Our first, second and third choice is peaceful negotiations … But after the failure of the Quartet to lay out foundations for the negotiations, which are a halt to settlement building and using the 1967 borders as a basis for the Palestinian state, it is now too late for negotiations … It is too late, there is no time — we are going to the UN’. The meeting of the PLO Central Council comes five days after Abbas convened a gathering of Palestinian diplomats in Istanbul to finalise the strategy for the membership bid. The Central Council is the PLO’s most important decision-making body in the absence of the Palestinian National Council, the parliament-in-exile which rarely meets. Palestinian officials say they are not planning on unilaterally proclaiming a state as they did in Algiers in 1988, nor will they seek recognition from the UN as a whole. Instead, they will continue to work for endorsement on a state-by-state basis, while applying for membership in the global body. Approaching the Security Council would be the only way for the Palestinians to gain full membership in the UN. But officials in Ramallah have indicated that they might also consider seeking General Assembly backing for an upgrade from their current observer status to that of a non-member state.
Such an upgrade would allow the Palestinians to join all the UN agencies, including the World Health Organisation, the child welfare agency UNICEF and the world heritage body UNESCO. It could also provide an alternative for the Palestinians if the United States vetoes its bid for membership in the Security Council, as Washington has already threatened to do”…


And, the U.S. Congress is moving to fine the Palestinians if they seek membership in the UN.

A Congressional “Subcomm markup” [not Approps full committee] has drafted legislation proposing that “none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the Palestinian Authority unless the Secretary of State certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that the Palestinian Authority is not attempting to establish or seek recognition at the United Nations of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians”. This is posted here, and “is subject to change as a result of Committee action”.

On top of all that, Israel has threatened to “cancel” the Oslo Accords if the Palestinian leadership goes ahead with planned moves at the UN. Barak Ravid reported in Haaretz that “A team headed by National Security Adviser Ya’akov Amidror is looking into calling off the Oslo Accords in response to the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral plan to gain United Nations recognition for an independent state … A senior Israeli official said that three weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Amidror to start drafting day-after plans with other government bodies … Israel is concerned that the Palestinians may use the General Assembly resolution in order to launch a legal fight in the International Court at the Hague, or to try to alter the economic and security arrangements reached over the past 18 years. NSC officials told representatives of the various government and military bodies that Israel would not initiate such a move, but may do so in response to the Palestinian actions … ‘Netanyahu is opposed to actions such as annexing settlements to Israel in response to a Palestinian move at the UN’, said an Israeli source familiar with the discussions. ‘Therefore, the NSC is evaluating other possibilities, one of them being voiding the Oslo Accords. In any case, there is no decision yet’ … Doing away with the accords would require reexamining key issues, primarily the status of the PA in the West Bank. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had mentioned doing away with the Oslo Accords during a meeting with European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton on June 17. Even though Lieberman supports such a response to a unilateral Palestinian move, officials at the Foreign Ministry consider such action ‘counterproductive’.”
This is reported here.

But, Akiva Eldar commented in Haaretz that “If the Oslo Accords did not exist, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have had to invent them. The document, and in particular the section that confiscates 60 percent of the Palestinians’ land in the West Bank (Area C ) and grants Israeli settlers exclusive access to it, should be placed in a safe by the right-wing and guarded by an elite army unit. And this is why this childish ‘threat’, which has been hovering in the air ever since Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman first waved it at European Union Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton a month ago, is not making much of an impression on Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen ); the Palestinian president continues to gather international support for the UN vote expected to take place in September … In an article published over the weekend in the online journal, Foreign Policy, Daniel Levy, a senior member of the Washington think tank, the New America Foundation, discloses that in a meeting of the leaders of the Quartet last week in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested of the UN secretary-general and her colleagues in the European Union and Russia to support a general declaration of ‘two states for two people, Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people’. Levy, whose information stems from a source at the highest levels of the Quartet, adds that Clinton did not stop there. At a time when Palestinians were hanging onto Obama’s May 19 speech at the U.S. State Department (the June 4, 1967 borders and territory swaps by agreement as the basis for negotiations ), the U.S. secretary of state instead presented the Quartet with the president’s speech that he gave a few days later to a conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC: ‘Israelis and Palestinians will negotiate a border that is different to the one that existed on June 4, 1967 … and allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides’. This version is nearly identical to [the wording in ] a letter sent by former President George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon in return for the disengagement from Gaza. Obama offered this to Netanyahu for free. As a bonus, the Americans asked the Quartet to declare that the solution of two states for two nations not be achieved by a process taking place at the UN, and that it should not be expected that a state would conduct negotiations with a terror organization sworn to destroy it. And what did the U.S. offer the Quartet in place of a UN vote and Palestinian reconciliation? ‘A call to the sides to return to direct negotiations, to start with preparations to maximize chances of success’.” Akiva Eldar’s report is published here.

The current mood

Yael Sternhell wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz today that “In the Israel of 2011, every manifestation of basic human empathy toward the Palestinian side, every disclosure of understanding for its aspirations and priorities hits a wall of hatred, distrust and the growing siege mentality”.

She compares the situation to that of the U.S. at the start of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s, and draws a parallel to a call for Israeli Jews to march on July 15 in support of the end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and lives, and for an independent Palestinian state.

And, she says, “We, the Jews who live in Israel, participate each day, each hour, in the denial of basic rights to Palestinian citizens, in the perpetuation of the settlements and the occupation. We’re in a similar position to that of many whites in the United States in the 1960s. Most of us find it hard to support the Palestinian struggle for independence, whether out of laziness, indifference or a basic loathing of those we’ve been told all our lives are a necessary enemy. Most of us find it hard to stand up to the story told by the government and most of the media that the Palestinian declaration of independence is a disaster for Israel, exactly as most whites in the South saw the granting of voting rights to blacks as the end of civilization. Most of us find it hard to believe that it’s possible to live together in peace, just as those whites in Alabama found it hard to imagine life in a free society in which members of all races have the same rights. Most of us also have more pressing matters to attend to, just as the whites all over the United States found it hard to see why the fact that Southern blacks couldn’t vote should keep them awake at night”. This article is posted here.

In another article also published on the Haaretz website on the same day, this one about the thwarted Freedom Flotilla Two, Amira Hass wrote: “Blocking the flotilla did not discourage the organizers, who are graduates of the anti-apartheid and anti-white supremacy struggles. Rather, it provided ample proof of how white Israel is. As a result, blocking the flotilla only increased their motivation to keep placing the Palestinians’ demand for freedom at the forefront of the international agenda”. This is posted here.

The big story: September State

This is a gem — “September State (Dawlat Aylul)” by Jerusalem-born artist Ahmad Dari, a long-term resident of France, posted on Youtube here:


This was a follow-up to Ahmad Dari’s earlier observations on the mission of former U.S. Special Envoy, George Mitchell, posted on Youtube here: