Remembering the UN’s Pivotal Role in Israel’s Creation “The deep, slightly hoarse voice came back, making

the air shake as it summed up with a rough dryness brimming with excitement: Thirty-three for. Thirteen against. Ten abstentions and one country absent from the vote. The resolution is approved. His voice was swallowed up in a roar that burst from the radio….” So wrote Amos Oz, Israel’s greatest novelist, recounting his experience on November 29, 1947, when the United Nations voted to end 25 years of British mandatory rule in Palestine and laid the groundwork for a two-state solution – one Jewish, one Arab. Six months later, under the looming threat of war from the very countries that had rejected the UN resolution, the State of Israel declared independence. In the past 60 years, the UN’s partition decision has been overwhelmingly vindicated. In a region plagued with religious extremism, tyranny and economic stagnation, Israel stands as a model of democratic pluralism, economic growth and human progress. The Jewish State has contributed to the global community in myriad ways, from an entrepreneurial social sector that has invented new ways to meet human needs, to a cutting edge high-tech economy that has produced innovations in agriculture, medicine, science and communications technology. It has developed solutions that hold promise for the developing world and advanced nation-states alike, and has generously offered its assistance to all countries in need. Despite these momentous contributions, Israel remains the only state whose very right to exist is still under attack, often by the same array of forces who rejected the two-state solution six decades ago. Yet, a two-state solution remains, as the UN recognized in 1947, the only reasonable solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, the U.N.’s landmark decision has been commandeered by forces opposed to any peaceful solution. In an Orwellian twist contrived by Arab countries in 1976, the UN declared November 29th a “Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The original UN decision was thus distorted beyond recognition, and used to undermine, rather than promote, the cause of peace. Last year’s “Day of Solidarity” misleadingly displayed a large map of “Palestine” on which Israel did not appear. The “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” used a map dated before Israel’s day of Independence. While technically correct, the implication of a Palestine without Israel was clear. In a subtle rebuke of the Committee right after this incident, the UN Secretary General denounced the statement of the Iranian president that Israel “should be moved from the Middle East” and cited his previous statement that Israel is a longstanding member of the UN. By using the UN as a vehicle to de-legitimize Israel, the Arab states and their supporters have rendered the global body virtually irrelevant to regional peacemaking. As a result, it would be difficult for any responsible Israeli leader to trust the UN to play a productive

and fair-minded role in bringing the parties together and helping them reach a just solution. On this sixtieth anniversary, it’s time for UN member states to reclaim the moral high ground, and to once again allow the UN to become a relevant player in the quest for peace. One simple, but symbolically potent, action would be for top U.N. officials to use the events surrounding the Day of Solidarity as an opportunity to speak out in favor of the original spirit of the 1947 U.N. resolution – of the justness for two-states living side by side in peace and security. A declaration for a more constructive, even-handed UN posture need not come at the expense of the Palestinians. By refusing to acquiesce to an anti-Israel agenda promoted by despots and dictators, UN officials would make it more, not less, likely that Palestinians will get a state of their own. Such a more balanced approach is particularly critical as Israelis, Palestinians and some Arab countries enter a new round of peace negotiations. The UN made the right decision in 1947, but in ensuing years its policies were hijacked by member states and non-governmental organizations more interested in perpetuating conflict than solving it. In order to move forward, the UN must remind the world of the truly courageous vote it took 60 years ago. Only then can the world body live up to the high ideals of its charter and potentially help replicate – this time successfully – one of the greatest moments in its own history. As Amos Oz’s father told his young son on November 29, 1947, “…from now on, from the moment we have our own state, you will never be bullied just because you are a Jew and because Jews are so-and-so’s. Not that. Never again. From tonight that’s finished here. Forever.”