Why did Gen. George Marshall oppose the recognition of the state of Israel in 1948?
Kenneth A Hill
Dear Mr. Hill,
George C. Marshall’s official reasons for opposing recognizing the state of Israel in 1948 are well documented. Principally, recognition undermined the proposal for a United Nations trusteeship that the United States had originally supported. Marshall also knew that the Jewish state would be immediately set upon from Arab enemies from all directions, for which he did not believe it had the manpower or weapons to defend itself, while the United States, with its military reduction after World War II and its priorities in focusing what it had left on the Soviet threat, would be unable to support it. Marshall also regarded President Harry Truman’s willingness to recognize Israel as being influenced by domestic political considerations that he though had no place in State Department decisions on foreign policy. Although there is no evidence that anti-Semitism colored Marshall’s own thinking, it is likely that some elements within the State Department did to some extent (see below). In any case, it is unlikely that many Americans who cared enough to notice would have expected the ultimate outcome of Israel’s first struggle for existence in 1949.
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