Epstein’s Telegram to Shertok

On 14 May, 1948 Eliahu Epstein, Agent of the Jewish Agency in Washington, sent this telegram to Moshe Shertok, Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Israel in Tel Aviv. The telegram tells the dramatic story of how, against a deadline and in secrecy, the new State of Israel was recognized by President Truman. The text has been retyped on 27 January, 2014, from the PDF facsimile of a typewritten copy of the telegram, downloaded from the website of the Israel State Archives at http://www.archives.gov.il/NR/rdonlyres/BD240CA5-379D-4FAE-81A8-069902AD1E7F/0/Truman3.pdf

Update 3 September 2016. The link above for the original copy of the telegram no longer works. The Israel State Archives are being re-organized. My copy is here. The text is below.

TELEGRAM FROM EPSTEIN TO SHERTOK, MAY 14, 1948

1. United States Government has just recognized State in following language:

“THIS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN INFORMED THAT A JEWISH STATE HAS BEEN PROCLAIMED IN PALESTINE AND RECOGNITION HAS BEEN REQUESTED BY THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT THEREOF. THE UNITED STATES RECOGNIZES THE PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT AS THE DE FACTO AUTHORITY OF THE NEW STATE OF ISRAEL.”

2. Informal conversations with White House representatives have made clear that recognition de facto rather than de jure because announced government provisional in nature.

3. The surrounding circumstances are as follows. Clark Clifford, White House spokesman, phoned Washington friends advising that the State Department, at noon, May 14, will agree immediate recognition in event request therefor received. After careful consultation here with Ben Cohen and Ginsberg, following letter drafted and sent to the President and Secretary of State:

“I have the honor to notify you that the State of Israel has been proclaimed as an independent republic within the frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947, and that the Provisional Government has been charged to assume the rights and duties of government for preserving law and order within the boundaries of Israel, for defence against external aggression, and for discharging the obligations of Israel to the other nations of the world in accordance with international law.

“The Act of Independence will become effective one minute after six o’clock on the evening of 14 May 1948 Washington time.

“With full knowledge of the deep bond of sympathy which has existed and has strengthened over the past thirty years between the Government of the United States and the Jewish people of Palestine, I have been authorized by the Provisional Government of the new State to tender this message and to express the hope that your government will recognize and will welcome Israel into the community of nations.

Very respectfully yours, /s/ Eliahu Epstein Agent, Provisonal Government of Israel.”

4. Wider consultation and prior notifications were precluded by pledge of secrecy demanded by Clifford.

5. Earlier during the day Loy Henderson phoned to ascertain boundaries of new State. Advised that boundaries in accordance with U.N Resolution.

6. Circumstances required that I take title for this act and assume responsibility for sending letter.

Note: Clark Clifford was White House Counsel, and a strong supporter of the creation and recognition of the Jewish state. Loy Henderson was Director of Near-Eastern affairs in the State Department, and opposed the creation and recognition of the Jewish state.

Short link: religion-science-peace.org/?p=820

About David Gerald Fincham

Retired academic scientist.
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