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Israel and Two Democracies

On Nov 29, 1947, few months after India’s independence, Resolution 181 was approved by the General Assembly to partition the territory of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The vote was 33-10 with 10 abstentions. Albert Einstein had written to the Prime Minister designate of India that year asking support for a Jewish state, but Nehru wrote back saying that while he was sympathetic to the suffering of Jews, he did not like that the new state would be located on someone else’s land. He also wrote that due to India’s national interests, he could not support the formation of Israel. Thus India voted along with Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Yemen against the resolution.

In United States, an unpopular Harry Truman supported the partition, but faced opposition from the State and Defence departments. One of the biggest opponent of the plan was Secretary of State, George Marshall, who bluntly told Truman that if elections were held, he would vote against the President. His Defence Secretary told him not to offend the Arabs since it could lead to denial of petroleum resources.

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared independence.

With only a few hours left until midnight in Tel Aviv, Clifford told the Jewish Agency to request immediate recognition of the new state, which still lacked a name. Truman announced recognition at 6:11 p.m. on May 14 — 11 minutes after Ben-Gurion’s declaration of independence in Tel Aviv. So rapidly was this done that in the official announcement, the typed words “Jewish State” are crossed out, replaced in Clifford’s handwriting with “State of Israel.” Thus the United States became the first nation to recognize Israel, as Truman and Clifford wanted.[Washington’s Battle Over Israel’s Birth]

Richard Holbrooke writes that while many think Israel has been nothing but trouble for United States, it was the right decision.

Israel was going to come into existence whether or not Washington recognized it. But without American support from the very beginning, Israel’s survival would have been at even greater risk. Even if European Jewry had not just emerged from the horrors of World War II, it would have been an unthinkable act of abandonment by the United States. Truman’s decision, although opposed by almost the entire foreign policy establishment, was the right one — and despite complicated consequences that continue to this day, it is a decision all Americans should recognize and admire. [Washington’s Battle Over Israel’s Birth]

Though India did not recognize Israel till 1950 and did not have diplomatic relations still 1992, Nehru asked David Ben-Gurion for help during the 1962 war and it has continued till the Kargil war. Voting against Israel did not result in any extra ordinary favours from the Arab world which supports Pakistan’s Kashmir cause.

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