Envoy to the Promised Land

Envoy to the Promised Land : The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1948-1951

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Just before Israel emerged as a state in May 1948, key United States officials hesitated and backtracked. Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett told Moshe Sharett of the Jewish Agency for Palestine that the US had expected a peaceful transition to dual states in Palestine. Now, war between Jews and Arabs and a broader regional conflict loomed. Apart from the Cold War repercussions, another mass slaughter of Jews would roil the US in a presidential election year.James G. McDonald arrived in Israel soon after its birth, serving as US special representative and later as its first ambassador. McDonald continued his longstanding practice of dictating a diary, which remained for many decades in private hands. Here his letters, private papers, and exchanges with the US State Department and the White House are interspersed chronologically with his diary entries. Envoy to the Promised Land is a major new source for the history of US-Israeli relations.Brilliantly describing the tense climate in Israel almost day by day, McDonald offers an in-depth portrait of key Israeli politicians and analyzes the early stages of issues that still haunt the country today: the disputed boundaries of the new state, the status of Jerusalem, questions of peace with Arab states and Israel's security, Israel's relationship with the United Nations, and the problem of Palestinian refugees.These papers and diaries from 1948 to 1951 follow the widely praised Advocate for the Doomed (IUP), Refugees and Rescue (IUP), and To the Gates of Jerusalem (IUP). Together these four volumes significantly revise the ways we view the Holocaust, its aftermath, and the early history of Israel.show more

Product details

  • Book | 1072 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 58.42mm | 111g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 12 b&w illus., 4 maps
  • 0253025346
  • 9780253025340
  • 936,279

About James G. McDonald

Norman J. W. Goda is the Norman and Irma Braman Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Florida and author of Tomorrow the World: Hitler, Northwest Africa, and the Path toward America; Tales from Spandau: Nazi Criminals and the Cold War; and The Holocaust: Europe, the World, and the Jews, 1918-1945. He is author (with Richard Breitman) of Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War and (with Richard Breitman, Timothy Naftali, and Robert Wolfe) of U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis.Richard Breitman is Distinguished Professor of History at American University and author, most recently, of FDR and the Jews (with Allan J. Lichtman). His other books include The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution and Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew. He is editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies.Barbara McDonald Stewart, daughter of James G. McDonald, has taught at George Mason University and is author of United States Government Policy on Refugees from Nazism, 1933-1940. Severin Hochberg is a historian at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He lives in Washington, D.C.show more

Review quote

"From the first US ambassador, along-awaited revelatory and virtually day-to-day account ofmodern Israel's birth in the midst of storm, blood, and fire. James G. McDonald was an American patriot who took part in the great drama prompted by the intensification of the plight of European Jewish refugees. A witness and participant who was wise and perceptive, a lover of mankind, a lover of the Jewish people, and a lover of Israel, he had walked alongside those who survived the Holocaust and had limped beaten and weary, downtrodden and ravaged, into displaced persons camps after World War II. Here he chronicles their initial return to their historical homeland, their assembly within it, and their fight for it. McDonald sought to convince Washington to ensure Israel's fortification and to support its development as the strategic stronghold of the democratic world in the Middle East. It is difficult not to feel awed by what this generous diary reveals on major policy issues, with unique perspectives on Truman, Bevin, Stalin, Pope Pius XII, Ben-Gurion, and many others in the opening phase of the Cold War in the Middle East. It also provides hundreds of observations of everyday life amidst mass Aliyah, economic development, religious controversy, and much much more. This volume is a celebration for everyone who wishes to know the intimate context of today's Middle East and is as compelling and relevant as tomorrow's newspapers." -Tuvia Friling, former Chief Archivist of the State of Israel "McDonald probably did more than any American in history to establish the enduring close ties between the Israel and the United States, and he did so against unremitting opposition from powerful forces in the U.S. government. His diary is a treasure trove of vignettes and observations which bring vividly to life an exciting and perilous time in the history of both countries. Historians will be poring through it for years to come, but so should policymakers, since many of the issues McDonald dealt with are still alive today. Those who are simply interested in Israel, and in America's role in that nation's founding, will find these pages an endless source of fascination and delight." -Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of The World America Madeshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction1. June - July 19482. August 19483. September 19484. October 19485. November 19486. December 19487. January 19498. February 19499. March 194910. April 194911. May 194912. June 194913. July 194914. August 194915. September 194916. October 194917. November 194918. December 194919. January 195020. February 195021. March 195022. April 195023. May 195024. June 195025. July 195026. August 195027. September - December 1950EpilogueIndexshow more