One of the joys of the Christmas season is that I have time to work down the stack of books staring at me reproachfully from my bedside table. One of them is Michael Beschloss's The Conquerors, about Roosevelt and Truman and their approach to Germany, in which I read this gem of an anecdote:
"Rabbi Stephen Wise hoped that the shock and outrage that Americans were feeling could be harnessed on behalf of the age-old dream of a Jewish state in Palestine. On Friday morning, April 20, in the Oval Office, Wise told the new president, "''m not sure if you're aware of the reasons underlying the wish of the Jewish people for a homeland.'
Truman told Wise he would try to help. On his desk was a stiff memo form the State Department warning that the Palestine question was 'highly complex.' Years later Truman recalled that the memo 'from the striped pants boys' was 'in effect telling me to watch my step, that I didn't really understand what was going on over there and that I ought to leave it to the experts.'"