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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Abbas again rejects idea of "Jewish state", misquotes Truman

Once again, Mahmoud Abbas has rejected the idea of Israel being a Jewish state. The evidence he brings is the fact that the letter that Harry Truman wrote recognizing Israel had the words "Jewish state" crossed out and replaced with "State of Israel."

This is not the first time the PA brought out this argument; Saeb Erekat floated the same idea last April.

The argument is bogus, of course. The UN had declared the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, and Truman was recognizing Israel based on the UN's language. He wrote the letter before Israel had named itself. Clark Clifford (not Truman) only changed the letter after Israel declared itself a state. It did not reflect any ambivalence by the US as to what exactly Israel was.

In fact, going through UN archives, one sees the terminology "Jewish State" used thousands of times. One interesting examples is the ICJ opinion against Israel's defensive barrier, which says "On 14 May 1948, the independence of the Jewish State was declared." (Admittedly, most of the more recent examples are usually Arabs who rail against the concept as being racist, at the same time that they reside in states that openly declare themselves Arab and Muslim.)