Truman-signed recognition of Israel up for sale

Never-before-sold document estimated at $300,000 by Raab Collection.

May 3, 2019 03:27
2 minute read.
The declaration that Harry Truman signed in 1965

The declaration that Harry Truman signed in 1965. (photo credit: RAAB COLLECTION)

In 1948, US President Harry Truman declared his support for the nascent State of Israel in a document recognizing the Jewish state. But the president never signed the final version of the declaration, which stated that the US “recognizes the provision government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.”

That is, until almost two decades later, when Zecharia Sitchin, an author and Zionist activist, met Truman and pointed out that the only documents in existence were an unsigned press release and a signed draft copy. The former president ordered a photocopy made of the statement and signed it on January 27, 1965. He gave that copy to Sitchin, who was president of the New York chapter of Hadassah and director of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Now, that signed document is available for sale for the first time, via The Raab Collection, a dealer of historical documents based in Pennsylvania.

Nathan Raab, the company’s president, said that they acquired the document directly from the heirs of Sitchin, who died in 2010.

“During a meeting with president Truman at the Library, I discussed with him the regretful fact of the absence of a signed Document of Recognition,” Sitchin wrote in a 1987 letter to the Israeli Embassy in Washington. “On his instructions a photocopy was made of the clean, final statement and he signed it then and there. This signed Document of Recognition – the only one in existence – was then displayed in the [World’s Fair] Pavilion and has remained in my possession.”

The Raab Collection has estimated the value of the document at $300,000.

That assessment, Raab told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “is based on its rarity and importance. Anything of Truman relating to the recognition of Israel is very uncommon, as is anything relating to the US acceptance of Israel in general,” he added. “This is the embodiment of that, and the only such piece Truman likely ever signed. Any other drafts would be in the Truman Library. It’s a remarkable connection.”

The Truman Library is home to a draft version of the statement, which was typed but includes the president’s hand-written annotations, and was signed on May 14, 1948. But the updated declaration released to the press was unsigned.

Sitchin’s signed document is being sold alongside the letter from Sitchin in 1987, offering it for loan to the Israeli embassy; the embassy’s mailed response; and a display plaque from the New York World’s Fair where it was exhibited in 1965.

Unlike with many rare documents, the Truman letter won’t be auctioned, but sold directly to an interested buyer.
“We are the retail equivalent of a Christie’s or Sotheby’s,” Raab said. “We set a price and the buyer is the buyer. There is no bidding process.”

Over the past 48 hours, Raab added on Thursday, we “have been entertaining interest... We have a number of people actively considering it but, as of now, it remains available.”

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