Part One: “Synopsis of the History of Modern Israel: A Constant State of Peril”
On November 29, 1947 the United Nations met in General Assembly and voted 33–13 for Partition of the Mandate of Palestine into “a Jewish State” and an Arab state“ (not ”a Palestinian state”) distinct from the state called Transjordan (which had already been carved out of the original mandate of Palestine in 1922.) The Zionists accepted the terms of Partition with great reluctance. But the Arab states that were scheduled to become neighbours to the Jewish State of Israel (most of them newly established from populations ruled under League of Nations Mandates or under the Empires of Britain and France) refused to accept the creation of a Jewish state – a miniature state, that would have been about one-tenth the size of the original Mandate of Palestine, having about 1/500th of the land-mass of the Middle East, and about 1/250th of the population of the Middle East – the only non-Arab State in the Middle East. (The combined population of the states of the Arab League was then about 140 million people living in about 5 million square miles. Israel’s population in May, 1948 was about 650,000 and the State of Israel as described by the Resolution of November 28, 1947 was 10,000 square miles.) As most Zionists had always expected, the Arab nation immediately turned its collective back on the United Nations and appealed to the God of War.
Had the Arab nations accepted the terms of November 29, 1947 the State of Israel would today be about one-third of its present size, misshapen, having no title to Jerusalem, and with a much smaller population crammed into its truncated borders; its immediate neighbour to the east would be an Arab-speaking nation including everything that now comes under the heading “disputed.” But then, such speculation is pointless, assuming as it does the possibility of Arab leaders acting reasonably and realistically.
This initial defiance of the will of the United Nations took place when hope for international cooperation against lawlessness was greater than it had been for many decades and would ever be again. It was the “United Nations,” after all, who had defeated the totalitarian monsters who had dragged the world into war. The air was full of declarations of determination never to let lawlessness take hold again. Now there was a United Nations Charter and soon UN Commissions would be cranking out the Declaration of Human Rights as well as scientific and philanthropic studies of all mankind’s problems guaranteed to supervise the behavior of people and nations so that wars would no longer be acceptable as solutions to problems. And yet with the United Nations not yet two years old, the Arab nations, cheered on by all the Muslim nations, were devastating the world’s hopes just as blatantly as Hitler and Mussolini had done.
Neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly took any action to prevent this assault upon its honor and its prerogatives. Neither did any government of any nation – not even the United States, seen in those days not only as the best friend of the Jewish people but simultaneously as the foremost proponent of collective action against international lawlessness. This failure to act forcefully and collectively to sustain this first major decision of the United Nations was the aboriginal mistake from which would follow the entire ugly history of assaults upon Israel by neighboring nations and terrorist organizations.
This isolation of Israel in a world where it is considered naïve to speak out against lawlessness has been the most constant theme in the history of Israel since then.
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Today as in 1948, Israel is beset by enemies who have an overwhelming advantage of numbers and territory. While these enemies profess their brotherhood in the great cause of eliminating the Jews (the sons of pigs and monkeys, as Prophet Muhammad called them) from the face of the earth, only rarely and only briefly have they set aside their many quarrels, some recent but most of them antique, and acted under unified command to accomplish this end. On the several widely-separated occasions when the Arab nations seemed about to find the way and the means to act together in the cause that is closest to all their hearts, the world has held its breath while looking the other way.
Humanly speaking, Israel’s cause has always seemed hopeless. In the long perspective of history sixty years or so is not long, when hatred between states is as fundamental as this and the odds as uneven. Any historian worth his salt can recite a lengthy catalogue of precedents for doom befalling such miniscule nations.
But the more alert historian finds at each moment of this story contrary winds at play. Just as the weight of deadly animosity seems to becoming unbearable we find that some unexpected element is suddenly put in play in favor of Israel’s continuing survival. What is required at such moments is (i) realistic awareness on the part of Israel and on the part of Israel’s friends of the dimensions of the threat to national existence; (ii) unity among the people of Israel; (iii) and recognition among the historic friends of Israel that the cause of Israel is their own cause.