Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 29, 1947

It is not an exaggeration to say that the world was riveted by the events in New York State in November of 1947.

On November 25, after two months of negotiations, the Ad-Hoc Committee of the UN in Lake Success voted to put Partition before the General Assembly by a vote of 25-13, with 17 abstentions. While only a simple majority was needed for its motion, a two-thirds majority was needed in the GA to pass partition, and the Committee vote was just short of that number.

The following days saw intense negotiation on both sides, but on November 29th, the General Assembly in Flushing Meadow voted overwhelmingly for partition:

The Jews were overjoyed. In Jerusalem, outside the Jewish Agency building, the "Jewish flag" was unfurled and "Mrs. Goldie Myerson" (soon to be better known as Golda Meir) addressed the crowd, "extending the hand of peace and friendship to the Arabs."

Similar hopes for peace with the Arabs came from Zionist leaders all over, and was crystallized by this Palestine post editorial:

The Arabs were crestfallen. They had tried to do a last-minute maneuver to scuttle the vote by proposing a "canton" system - a single state where the Jews and Arabs would be separated. Somehow, nobody today refers to this proposal as "apartheid:"

An Egyptian newspaper came out, paradoxically, in favor of partition - but reading further one can see why:

The newspaper felt that by accepting partition now, the Arabs would be in a much better position to crush the Jewish state when it would actually come into existence.

The Arab Higher Committee put the defeat in the particular Arab context of an honor/shame society:

"You are standing at a cross road; it will be either a noble and free life or shame and humiliation forever. The matter is now in your hands alone. If you make the required sacrifice for the sake of your country you will win, but if you are mean and treacherous you will be stained with shame and humiliation."

Unwittingly, the Arabs were already setting themselves up for their "naqba" - they had pre-defined the existence of a Jewish state as an unpardonable affront to their dignity. In the Arab world, nothing is worse than being humiliated, and death is far preferable.

All that they say to the West today about "justice" and "settlements" are just empty words to mask what their true intentions are - to erase decades of humiliation. Nothing is more important. All the volumes of scholarly papers and articles, all the legal maneuvers and speeches, all the pretenses of grudgingly accepting Israel - all of it is a smokescreen to mask what the AHC chairman articulated on their behalf that day, that the very existence of a Jewish state is the definition of shame and humiliation.

This is before there was a single Arab battlefield loss, before there was a single Arab refugee. It is not the humiliation of defeat but the humiliation of Jews controlling land in the Middle East.

The events of recent weeks have shown this to be true, sixty years later. Even though the UN and the world explicitly stated that this was to be a Jewish state, the most "moderate" of Arab negotiators cannot accept that simple fact today. All their empty words about peace cannot erase what Arabs feel, deep down.

The only reason they pretend to accept Israel today is because they assume that they will be able to destroy it demographically tomorrow with the consciously hostile "right to return." To truly accept a Jewish state in the birthplace of the Jews is as abhorrent and unthinkable to the Arabs today as it was in November, 1947.

And no amount of photo-ops or joint statements can change that.