I just finished "A Safe Haven Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel". I had read Chaim Wiseman’s biography “Trial and Error” as well as Heller’s look at the politics of Ben Gurion at the start of the Israeli nation. This work by Allis and Ronald Radosh filled in some gaps and tied together the different narratives for me. I was rewarded in seeing a man, Harry Truman, do what he believed was right, and despite being manipulated by his own state department, in the end plays the trump card and makes America the first nation to recognize Israel, although I think the Russians can debate the qualifications of President Truman’s announcement.
I was impressed with the influence of the Jews in America to lobby, demonstrate, orchestrate their impact on the US and the UN. Not much domestic Jewish activity for the state of Israel today. The times have changed. It was the horror of the holocaust and the search for a home of the displaced persons from the war, many of them Jews wanting to return to Palestine. The book covers the end of the war to the birth of Israel in May of 1948. Truman’s involvement in the issue started with his desire to see 100,000 of these displaced persons given the paperwork by the British to enter Palestine.
As I read, enjoying the details and the political intrigue, I kept wondering when the 100,000 would actually be allowed to go to Palestine. At the same time I had a recurring sermon thought about the displaced persons and a backslider.
President Truman was horrified by the treatment that the “DP’s” were receiving. The Jews had been driven from their homes, gathered into concentration camps and faced the gas chambers. Those that had survived all of that now found themselves to be DP’s or Displaced Persons. Some tried to return to their homes only to be murdered. Many were transferred from the German concentration camp to an Allied holding camp where the years of deprivation took their toll and they died. In these new camps, the Harrison Report, described life behind wire, with guards, sometimes the same German guards from the concentration camp, where their one desire, their last hope was to go to Palestine. But, they were trapped.
I saw the picture of the backslider, trapped in their sin, trapped by their choices and knowing in their heart that there was really only one answer. A person can lose control of their life by the choices they make. Now, just like these displaced persons they were trapped. Truman’s answer was to start with getting the first 100,000 to Palestine. There were issues. The Arabs, the coming Cold War and the obstinacy of the Labor government that replaced Churchill’s conservative at the end of the war all worked against their release.
The Jews in Palestine were making a life for themselves. They were buying the worthless land and turning it into productive farm land. Their presence had created an economic boom that was attracting Arabs from all over the Middle East. The displaced person looked through the wire, pass the guards and across the sea and knew there was a better life waiting for them in Palestine. But, they were trapped.
From the end of the war in May of 1945 until May of 1948 President Truman tried at a minimum to get the first 100,000 displaced persons placed in Palestine or anywhere else for that matter, but failed. While they waited for deliverance many other Jews chose to take their chances with the Jewish underground railway to get to Palestine. While those trapped in the camps waited and waited over 300,000 displaced Jews made it into Palestine illegally. Those that were captured by the British were taken to the camps in Cyprus or, even worse, taken to the camps back in Germany.
What finally happened to get those displaced persons out of the camps and into Palestine? The Jews had created a nation. A partitioned Palestine was always a second choice for the Jews. The Arabs demanded one Palestine with a Jewish minority. The editor of “The Nation” had done a thorough job in educating America to the Nazi sympathies of the Mufti (Muslim leader) of Jerusalem. The delegations that visited Palestine for the US or the UN came away with a realization that the Jews as a minority in Arab lands might survive but the Arabs made it clear, no more Jews. The Displaced Persons would still be displaced.
Eventually, the US came to support a partitioned Palestine. The State Dept. opposed this solution for probably the same reasons that the State Dept. opposes Israel today. The UN vote was close but the partition plan was OK’d in Nov of 1947. The British had already declared their intention of abandoning Palestine to its fate by May 15 of 1948. Israel, even though not a nation, began to take responsibility into its own hands. Every immigrant found productive work to prepare the land for nationhood. The state department took one last shot at undermining the new Israeli state, making President Truman to look like a liar, but their attempt failed to gain the political traction to turn Palestine into a UN protectorate. The UN resolution of Nov 1947 still stood creating two separate states, one Jewish and one Arab, with the dissolution of the British Mandate on May 15. President Truman trumps the state dept. by recognizing Israel in a speech given at 6:15 his time, 12:15 Israeli time May 15.
It was only then, at independence, that Israel began to pay to bring back the displaced persons, 15,000 each month.
To know Christ, the real thing, not just church, to know Christ to be saved and then to walk away, be lured away or to fall away has got to be the darkest of the dark experiences of life. Forever displaced, a man without a country, no amount of life’s sedatives can completely dispel the knowledge of Christ in your heart.
Just like those displaced persons trapped in the camps you can kindle that ember of knowledge of God and His salvation and return to where you belong. This was something God did in Jews hearts at that time. It might be something God is doing in those that have tried to abandon their faith; putting a new desire in your heart. The book describes prophetic times, and we are living in prophetic times now. Could God be drawing back those who have fallen? It won’t be easy; there will be no free rides. The secret of the displaced person’s success was their willingness to work for the building of the state of Israel. To come back to church; is to come back to labor to build the church. Find your place again and be productive.
The lesson for the church is that you can’t set the captives free until you become the church preaching the message of salvation and freedom in Christ. Do you want them back? Do you care about them? Are you willing to work and pay the price to redeem them? It all makes sense to me. There is a stirring of backsliders and I am praying that this nation can experience another “Awakening”.