November 29: Then and Now

A few years ago, I was at a Shabbat dinner with my Israeli family and my aunt opened the dinner conversation with a question:  Who knows the importance of the 29th of November?  It should have been an easy question.  After all, streets are named after the date (in Hebrew they call it Kaf Tet B’November).  A few guesses were thrown out, but no right answers.  And I answered, a bit unsure of myself, “The UN Partition Plan?”  It couldn’t be THAT easy, could it?

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On November 29, 1947, the UN passed Resolution 181 that called for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.  The Jews accepted the plan and the Arabs rejected it.  In May 1948, the British left and the war began.

The historical significance is clear.  The UN recognized the Jewish connection to the land of Israel.  So when the Jews won the War of Independence and began to build a state, it was only natural to recognize the State of Israel.

It’s not surprising to me that Israelis today don’t place a lot of significance on UN Resolution 181.  The UN didn’t actually create the state, the people did.  And the UN hasn’t had a great track record on Israel since then.

This year on November 29, the UN marked “Palestine Day” and scheduled a vote on six UN resolutions against Israel.  November 29 is officially called the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People per a UN resolution from 1977.  The six resolutions that were supposed to be voted on included the one ignoring the Jewish connection to the Temple mount and one calling for the return of the Golan Heights to Syria – where thousands of Palestinians have died in the civil war and where Islamic State is gaining ground.

There are those who might say that these UN resolutions are just history righting itself.  The vote in 1947 should never have happened and no Jewish connection to the land of Israel should have been recognized.

But I think a different set of questions should be asked:  Do the member states of the UN really believe that Israel should not exist?  Or perhaps Israel must be held to a different standard than other member states?  Or does a group of states have undue influence on the other members?  And if one group can exert that kind of influence, perhaps the legitimacy of the UN should be called into question.

November 29 is a notable day in history, but it’s no wonder that Israelis don’t pay attention to it.

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