In 1977, the UN's General Assembly designated November 29 as "International Solidarity Day for Palestinian People." It was of course no coincidence that the day chosen for this event was the very same day on which the UN had voted in 1947 to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
But this was arguably a rather unfortunate choice: by selecting this historic date, on which the UN endorsed a decision that was rejected by the Arab League and Palestinian representatives, the UN seemed willing to retroactively approve this rejection and the subsequent Arab aggression.
It is worthwhile to recall the straightforward condemnation of the Arab conduct by the first UN Secretary General, Trygve Lie:
The invasion of
Even before the partition plan was endorsed by the UN, the Arabs openly threatened war. During a meeting with Jewish Agency representatives David Horowitz and Abba Eban in September 1947, Arab League Secretary Azzam Pasha declared:
The Arab world is not in a compromising mood. It's likely, Mr. Horowitz, that your plan is rational and logical, but the fate of nations is not decided by rational logic. Nations never concede; they fight. You won't get anything by peaceful means or compromise. You can, perhaps, get something, but only by the force of your arms. We shall try to defeat you. I am not sure we'll succeed, but we'll try. We were able to drive out the Crusaders, but on the other hand we lost
These few lines illustrate how little today's political discourse reflects the historical reality: Azzam Pasha categorically ruled out any peaceful resolution, openly threatened a war of aggression, and - unrestrained by concerns about "political correctness" - didn't hesitate to frame the conflict in terms of the centuries-old quest for Arab domination.
The threats of the Arab League Secretary were not empty words. During the week after the UN had endorsed the partition plan, Arabs killed more than 60 Jews in Palestine, and by May 15, 1948, more than 1200 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. Jews who lived in Arab countries were also targeted, and a New York Times report in May 1948 described their dire situation. The article also noted that the World Jewish Congress had warned the UN already in January 1948 that "the very survival of the Jewish communities in certain Arab and Moslem countries is in serious danger unless preventative action is taken without delay."
But just three years after
Today's political debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reflect hardly any trace of these events. More than 6000 Jews killed by Arabs in the violence unleashed in the wake of the partition resolution and the subsequent war, some 15,000 wounded and more than 800,000 Jewish refugees from Mideast countries are simply ignored in a political climate that indulges those who relentlessly seek to demonize Israel as evil aggressor, while the Palestinians are cast in the role of the hapless victims.
There are endless debates about what it means to be "pro-Israel," and often enough these debates explore how hostility towards mainstream Israeli views can best be presented as "legitimate criticism" or "tough love." But there are few debates about what it means to be "pro-Palestinian." If some of the past UN events devoted to demonstrating the organization's solidarity with the Palestinians are anything to go by, vilifying
The pervasive hypocrisy is also reflected in a political debate that studiously avoids addressing some of the crucial problems that have contributed considerably to prevent
The discrimination faced by Palestinians in Arab countries was described as comparable to the treatment of Jews in medieval
Another rarely addressed subject was tackled in a recent article by Michael Freund, who examined contributions to UNRWA, the agency set up to serve Palestinian refugees. UNRWA is getting ready to mark its 60th anniversary, but the agency has been struggling for several years to raise enough money to fulfill its mission. Freund highlights the dramatic contrast between the windfall reaped in recent years by the oil-rich Arab countries and their meager contributions to UNRWA, and he points out that "over the past two decades, Arab regimes have been providing a steadily decreasing percentage of UNRWA's funding. In the 1980s, their contributions amounted to 8% of the group's annual budget, whereas now they comprise barely 3%. As a result, Western states are currently providing more than 95% of the funds behind UNRWA's ongoing programs."
In other words, a refugee problem created six decades ago by Arab aggression has been allowed to fester, with the Western world footing most of the bill, and with
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