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Dwight Eisenhower

(1890 - 1969)

Dwight David Eisenhower was a U.S. soldier, supreme commander of the Allies' European Theater of Operations during World War II and 34th president of the United States. During World War II, he commanded the U.S. troops in the United Kingdom, and then the Allied forces landing in North Africa. There he pressured the French authorities to annul the anti-Jewish laws of the Vichy regime. As supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, Eisenhower led the Normandy invasion in 1944. After the German surrender one of his first acts was to void all Nazi racial and antisemitic legislation.

Eisenhower's armies liberated tens of thousands of Jews in concentration camps. Upon the discovery of the remnant who refused to return to their native lands, and after pressure from President Harry Truman, he created the unprecedented position of adviser to the commanding general on Jewish affairs to speed the handling of the Jewish survivors. Chaplain Judah Naidich first filled the post and was succeeded by a series of civilians beginning with Judge Simon H. Rifkind . Separate displaced persons camps were created for Jews to improve their physical, cultural, and spiritual conditions. Eisenhower also ordered the admission into these camps of tens of thousands of Jews fleeing from Poland and Eastern Europe after the war (see Berihah ). In October 1945 Eisenhower received David Ben-Gurion and acceded to his request for planes to bring Hebrew teachers and agricultural instructors from Palestine to the camps, thus facilitating the later immigration of the displaced persons to Palestine.

During Eisenhower's presidential terms of office (1953– 61), hundreds of millions of dollars in grants-in-aid were extended to Israel. An atomic energy agreement with Israel provided for training Israeli scientists and making heavy water available. Military equipment sent to Israel included training aircraft, signal supplies, and spare parts and ammunition. Relations between Eisenhower's administration and Israel reached their lowest ebb during and after the Sinai Campaign of October 1956, when the U.S. took the lead in the UN in demanding the withdrawal of Israeli forces, even threatening sanctions. Upon Israel's withdrawal, Eisenhower affirmed that Israel would have no cause to regret its decision, and pledged support for Israel's national existence and internal development. American policy, he stated, viewed the Gulf of Akaba and the Suez Canal as international waterways.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.