Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Palestinian Sound and Fury

November 29, 2012 5:47 pm 1 comment

United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City. Photo: Patrick Gruban.

Today, November 29th, marked the 65th anniversary of UN Resolution 181, calling for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab (not “Palestinian”) states. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, desperately trying to reclaim the limelight from Hamas after its fanciful claim of a Gaza “victory,” was expected to request his consolation prize from the General Assembly, welcoming the Palestinians as a non-member observer state, with the Vatican as its solitary partner.

But a General Assembly vote would be a hollow gesture. While it might be considered a promotion from the mere observer status the Palestinians have held since 1974, it is a nebulous title nowhere mentioned in the UN Charter. Any attempt to revive the authority of UN Resolution 181, wrote international law expert Julius Stone more than three decades ago, is “an undertaking even more miraculous than would be the revival of the dead.” But Abbas needed to say more to bolster the deflated image of the Palestinian Authority.

As Arab delegates enthusiastically cheered Abbas, they might have recalled their own role in dooming Palestinian statehood. In 1947 Zionists exulted over Resolution 181, the fulfillment of the 2000-year-old dream of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland and rebuild their shattered nation, even within truncated, porous, and precarious borders.

But Arab states showed no regard for a “Palestinian” people deserving a state of their own. They launched an invasion to eradicate the fledgling Jewish state and carve up the territory to suit their own wishes. King Abdullah of Jordan seized land from Palestine that became known as the “West Bank” while Egypt gobbled up Gaza.

Nineteen years later, confronting another looming attack from Arab states, Israel won a stunning victory in six days. Jerusalem and the biblical homeland were once again theirs. By now, 350,000 Israelis live in Judea and Samaria, as they have every right to do under international law that eighty years ago, under the auspices of the League of Nations, assured Jews the right of “close settlement” west of the Jordan River.

Ever since, Palestinians “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity” (as Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban memorably quipped). Rejecting any possibility for their own statehood that required recognition of the State of Israel, they have preferred to lament the Naqba, the 1948 tragedy of their defeat and dispersion, rather than become state-builders.

Mahmoud Abbas’s General Assembly speech was mostly familiar boilerplate. Recognition of Palestine would represent “a victory for truth, freedom, justice, law, and international legitimacy.” All blame rests upon Israel, for its “colonial military occupation of the land of the Palestinian people” and its “brutality and racial discrimination.” The only unexpected insertion was his announcement that he had submitted an application for the admission of Palestine as a “full member.” But that requires unanimous Security Council approval, which the United States is unlikely to support.

The young men in Ramallah who gleefully display signs proclaiming “The State of Palestine” are likely to discover that little has changed. Words in New York are not facts on the ground until the Palestinian Authority negotiates an agreement with Israel that recognizes the existence and borders of the Jewish state. The lurking presence of Hamas, still pledged to the annihilation of Israel, will not be easily ignored. Perhaps Abbas should make peace with Hamas before he negotiates with Israel.

If Palestinians settle for non-member observer state status “Palestine” can pursue legal action against Israel in the International Criminal Court. But Israel, like the United States a decade ago, recognized the ideological and political bias of the ICC and withdrew from its jurisdiction.

The lingering question is whether the Palestinians can heal their own internal divisions and finally, after 65 years, accept the reality of Israel. Can they finally relinquish their identity theft from Jewish history and develop an independent Palestinian identity?

Ever since 1948 Palestinians have constructed their identity on the foundation of Jewish history, archeology, texts, holy sites and, of course, land. Ironically, even as Israel was targeted for incessant Palestinian terrorist attacks Zionist state building inspired Palestinian emulation. November 29th hardly was a random choice by the Palestinian Authority. It is, after all, the day when Israelis celebrate international recognition of their right to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel – not in the land of Palestine.

Jerold S. Auerbach is writing a book about Israel’s legitimacy struggles.

1 Comment

  • Let us not forget brethren,

    To pay tribute to the astute visionaries orchestrating the velvet glove of time. Via the auspices of social engineering, as history cures the ripeness of our convictions, while remembering what Albert Einstein said, of the institutions parading before us, are set for our purposes, until the fullness of their time, to wit:

    “The United Nations is an extremely important and useful institution provided the peoples and governments of the world realize that it is merely a transitional system toward the final goal, which is the establishment of a supranational authority vested with sufficient legislative and executive powers to keep the peace.”

    Most graciously ‘In Honor We Trust’

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Israel Theater BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    BDS Gives Belgian-Jewish Actress New Lease on Life in Tel Aviv

    In an interview with the Israeli site nrg on Wednesday, Belgian-Jewish stage actress Noemi Schlosser recounted immigrating to Israel after her career in Europe was destroyed by BDS. Schlosser said she had enjoyed success in Belgium and international acclaim until she was targeted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for her pro-Israel stance during Operation Protective Edge — last summer’s war against Hamas in Gaza. She described watching the theaters where she performed go from packed to nearly empty over a short period of […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    In Israel for Champions League Soccer Match, Chelsea Manager Says Team Not Worried About Security Situation

    The manager of the Chelsea Football Club said on Monday that he is looking forward to playing in Israel this week against Maccabi Tel Aviv, in spite of the security situation, Israeli news site nrg reported. Jose Murinho, who is already in Israel with his team to compete against Maccabi in the Champions League soccer match, was  asked whether he was worried about the current wave of Palestinian violence sweeping the country. “I have no worries at all regarding the security situation, and neither do […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    In the Middle East, ‘The Tail Wags the Dog’ (REVIEW)

    Blaming the West has become the most pervasive method of teaching for many Middle East studies departments, which are becoming the heart of pop-culture academia. Efraim Karsh, a distinguished professor of Middle Eastern studies at Bar-Ilan University and professor emeritus at King’s College London, in his latest book The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East, dispels this myth. “Britain’s ‘original sin,’ if such was indeed committed, lay not in the breaking up of Middle Eastern unity but […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About

    With Popularity and Sales up, ‘Mensch on a Bench’ Has Much to Smile About – The Mensch on a Bench is so much happier now than he was a year ago. Look carefully and you will notice that, whereas the previous Mensch had a decidedly worried look, this latest version of the popular Hanukkah toy is flashing an exuberant grin. Is the erstwhile Mensch smiling because he expects to be in some 100,000 homes by year’s end? In truth, the change in visage was suggested last year by the “sharks” on ABC’s Shark Tank […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Adam Sandler Updates Famous ‘Chanukah Song,’ Includes Hulk Hogan, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson in Latest Version

    Actor Adam Sandler unveiled a new version of his famous “Chanukah Song” on Saturday, adding a slew of Jewish celebrities to the ditty’s updated lyrics. The comedian — who released the original song about being Jewish during Christmas in 1996 — performed the latest version of the comedic track during the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee, actor Jake Gyllenhaal and “the two guys who founded Google” are among the famous Jewish celebrities now in the line up. Sandler also included lyrics about Star Wars‘ Princess […]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

    Famed Israeli Violinist Itzhak Perlman to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom – Famed Israeli violinist Itzhak Perlman will be among the 17 recipients of America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom next week. He is the fourth Israeli to receive the highest civilian honor in the US. “A native of Israel, he came to the United States at a young age and was introduced to Americans broadly when he appeared on the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ in 1958. Mr. Perlman made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 when he was 18,” a White House […]

    Read more →
  • Features Spirituality/Tradition Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots

    Don’t Think Israel is a Luxury Destination? Check Out These 6 Spots – While Israel is a common destination for cultural and religious pilgrimages, travelers seeking the best hotels, fine dining, and upscale relaxation less often find themselves in the Holy Land. Yet in recent years, the country’s burgeoning tech scene has attracted a business crowd accustomed to ritzy accommodation. Besides, the permanent summer of Tel Aviv and Eilat makes them prime destinations for European vacationers. Israel’s populace managed to tame the swamps and irrigate the desert — so going luxury should […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Features Has Shia LaBeouf Reached the End of the Line?

    Has Shia LaBeouf Reached the End of the Line?

    Was Shia LaBeouf’s performance art piece at Manhattan’s Angelica Film Center (where he spent three days watching his own films) a sign of madness or genius? Judging from the lines and the fans, it was the latter. Shortly before 6 a.m. on Thursday, approximately 140 people were on line for the last day of the live-streamed event at Angelica Film Center. Fans who waited were happy to give their opinions. “I don’t think he’s crazy,” said Elliot Quartz, an 18-year-old student at the New School, who waited […]

    Read more →