David Gergen says in a 4/3/06 web-posted US News article (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/articles/060403/3edit.htm) that according to David McCullough, Truman recognized Israel “in spite of pressure from Jewish groups, not because of it.” I don’t have McCullough’s book, but I don’t think history supports this claim. Truman’s Secretary of State, General George Marshall, opposed the recognition of Israel, because he thought that Truman was doing it for election year politics, and not because it was the right thing to do from a foreign policy perspective. The primary advocate for recognizing Israel was Clark Clifford, who was then Truman’s advisor for domestic political affairs.
One detailed reference to Truman’s domestic political concerns is the following:
Perhaps a more reliable description of Marshall’s position is this posting by the Truman Presidential Library. See the entry for May 12, 1948, and the subsequent entries. Note that it says Marshall had send a special envoy to the UN to prevent the entire American staff at the UN from resigning over the Israel issue:
I will have to find McCullough’s Truman book to see why he thinks Truman’s recognition of Israel was motivated by foreign policy considerations when his Secretaries of State and Defense both opposed it strongly. I don’t think Gergen should accept McCullough’s characterization without question. That he does, seems to indicate that Gergen, for whom I have much respect, is under the sway of the Israeli lobby, and may not know it. He is living proof of the allegations made by Profs. Miersheimer and Walt.