June 26, 1944
Held in Chicago, the 1944 Republican Party National Convention took place during the first wartime U.S. presidential election since the Civil War. New York Governor Thomas Dewey, the Republican presidential candidate, was decidedly in favor of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. His overt support for a Jewish state captured the attention of Zionists in Palestine and, more notably, American Jewry. This was particularly significant because in the mid-1940s, Zionism was not widely supported by American Jews. Organizations, like the American Council for Judaism, and elements of the American Reform movement remained staunchly opposed to a Jewish state.
In 1943, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver had founded the America Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), which became American Zionism’s political arm. He was aware that Franklin D. Roosevelt, the incumbent U.S. President, was ambivalent about supporting a Jewish state in Palestine. To ensure the White House’s support for a Jewish state, Silver recognized that he needed support from both the Republican and Democratic parties. He worked closely with Republican Governor Thomas Dewey of New York towards this end.
Silver delivered the invocation at the Republican convention, and later stated, “I hope that the Democratic Party at its convention in July will likewise adopt a strong pro-Palestine plan… I believe that these political conventions will pave the way for early and favorable action on the Palestine resolutions when Congress reconvenes.”
Following the Republican precedent, The Democratic National Convention endorsed unrestricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and ultimately, the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.
The photo shows a Thomas Dewey presidential campaign button.