Monday, February 19, 2018

President Warren Harding

In honor of President’s Day, Jewish Treats presents a quick look at the relationship of President Warren Harding (1865 - 1923) and the Jews.

Although Harding may be criticized for restrictive immigration legislation, his overall relationship with the Jewish people seems to have been positive and supportive. During his tenure in office (1921 - 1923), activists of the Zionist Movement sought his support for creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Even as he heard opposition from the State Department and prominent Jewish anti-Zionists (such as Adolph Ochs, of The New York Times), Harding gave his whole-hearted support to the endeavor when he signed the 1922 Lodge-Fish Resolution that stated that the United States favored:

The establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jews, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice civil and religious rights of Christians and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and cites in Palestine shall be adequately protected. 

Harding lauded the significance of the Resolution in his Rosh Hashana Greeting to the Jews of America on August 21, 1922, when he noted the significance of the possibility of a Jewish homeland for “not only to the Jewish people, but to their friends and well-wishers everywhere, among whom the American nation has always been proud to be numbered.”

Beyond his support for the creation of a Jewish homeland, Harding was not hesitant to express positive sentiments about the Jewish people. In January 1923, he sent an apology for not being able to attend the Golden Jubilee Dinner of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (due to his wife’s health). In his note, which was printed in The New York Times on January 25, 1923, he stated: “One of the marvels of humanity’s story has been the strength and persistence of the Jewish faith and continuing influence and power of the Jewish people.”

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