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Harry Truman Administration: Address on Israel in Madison Square Garden

(October 28, 1948)

I wish to speak now upon a subject that has been of great interest to me as your President. It is the subject of Israel. Now, this is a most important subject and must not be resolved as a matter of politics during a political campaign. I have refused consistently to play politics with that question. I have refused, first, because it is my responsibility to see that our policy in Israel fits in with our foreign policy throughout the world; second, it is my desire to help build in Palestine a strong, prosperous, free, and independent democratic state. It must be large enough, free enough, and strong enough to make its people self-supporting and secure.

As President of the United States, back in 1945, I was the first to call for the immediate opening of Palestine to immigration to the extent of at least 100,000 persons. The United States, under my administration, led the way in November 1947, and was responsible for the resolution of the United Nations setting up Israel, not only as a homeland, but as a free and independent political state. The United States was the first to give full and complete recognition to the new State of Israel in April 1948, and recognition to its provisional government.

I have never changed my position on Palestine or Israel. As I have previously announced, I have stood--and still stand-on the present Democratic platform of 1948. The platform of 1944 had provisions in it under which I have been trying to act. The platform of 1948 reiterates those positions and goes a little further--and I am glad it did go a little further. What we need now is to help the people of Israel--and they have proved themselves worthy of the best traditions of hardy pioneers. They have created out of the barren desert a modern and efficient state, with the highest standards of Western civilization. They have demonstrated that Israel deserves to take its place in the family of nations.

That is our objective. We shall work toward it, but we will not work toward it in a partisan and political way. I am confident that that objective will be reached. I know that no American citizen, of whatever race or religion, would want us to deal with the question of Palestine on any other basis than the welfare of all Americans of every race and faith.

Sources: Public Papers of the President