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November 28, 2012November 28, 2012  0 comments  History

On Saturday November 29, 1947, Jews and non-Jewish supporters of Israel worldwide waited with baited breath listening to live radio broadcast from the UN in New York as the nations of the world voted to establish a Jewish state in the Biblical Land of Israel. People broke into spontaneous celebration, singing and dancing in the streets. It was as if 2000 years of exile had all bubbled to the top and those privileged to live to witness this moment celebrated for themselves, and for the many generations over two millennia who had only been able to dream and pray for this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGLgIeZVtno

The emotions of the moment were particularly striking given that the ashes of the Holocaust still smoldered in the recent memory of Jews worldwide, making this historic occasion bitter sweet. If the world had only cared to recognize and establish the Jewish people's legitimate and historic right to a country of their own several years earlier, millions of Jews could have been saved from the gas chambers and death camps of Nazi Europe. Many of those celebrating on November 29 bore the physical tattoo of having been interned in Nazi concentration camps. Many more shared the psychological scar of the Holocaust, the loss of their parents and grand parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, spouses and children, friends and neighbors, a full one third of the Jewish people!

Tears of joy for what was coming in the promise of Jewish statehood were shed along with tears of sadness for what might have been for six million Jews murdered had this only come sooner.

At the same time that Jews and others broke out in spontaneous celebration, Israel's enemies broke out in a less than spontaneous, well planned war against the fetal Jewish state and Jews living in the Land. The vote to establish a Jewish home in Israel also was a vote to establish an Arab state alongside it. Despite the world voting to establish two states, the Arab world rejected the outcome and launched a war for Israel's survival. This became known as Israel's War of Independence. During this period, Israel lost a full one percent of its' population defending and assuring that Israel would be born and thrive.


It's common to say that Israel's War of Independence began in 1947 and ended with an armistice agreement with its' neighbors in 1949. Yet the reality is that since 1949, Israel has had to continually defend itself, burying more than 25,000 who have given their lives to defend the country, or who have been victims of the many terrorist attacks that we have endured, just by virtue of Jews exercising their destiny in their own land. This week, that war continues on a new front in the UN all over again.

While the immediate fighting then ended with a cease fire in 1949 and armistice lines drawn with an infamous green pencil (marking today's "Green Line"), the reality is that the War of Independence never ended. Israel has never known a day of peace, whether the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon Wars, or the most recent Operation Pillar of Defense. Rather than calling these wars, it's more accurate to say that these were all battles in the same war, a war that's not ended largely because the Arab world still largely rejects Israel's legitimacy or right to exist. In recent years, this intransigence has only become more hard-line, more threatening, and less likely to accommodate Israel in any framework.


Historically, and sadly, while Jewish leaders of pre-state Israel accepted the November 29 partition vote that would leave Israel with a tiny portion of land in which to build a home, had the Arab world embraced Israel rather than made war against it, we'd have had peace long ago.

In recent years, some have wondered rhetorically what would happen if the 1947 vote were to take place today. With a large block against it in the UN, it's not clear that the vote would come out in Israel's favor. Yet today, the world stands ready to vote on a Palestinian statehood, a redundancy if ever there was one, not to mention that there is no one Palestinian governing body that controls the territory in which they would create this state. Rather than voting again, the Palestinians and others should be pushed to accept Israel's legitimacy first. Without that, there may be a vote today in name, but no progress will be made toward a long elusive peace.


Jewish destiny in the Land of Israel is not a matter of public opinion, yet we still fend off endless slander that challenges Israel's very legitimacy and right to exist. It is an interesting and somewhat unusual idea that a popular vote among the other nations of the world, as if part of some geopolitical TV reality show, would somehow deed legitimacy to Israel. It's also warped to justify Israel's legitimacy because of the Holocaust. By that thinking, had the Holocaust not happened, the Jewish people would not be entitled to a state!

Israel's legitimacy and right to exist come from God, not the outcome of an international popularity contest in the UN. As the world stands to ridicule itself, with the vote stacked against Israel to begin with, people of conscience need to stand up and use every media possible to protect Israel's interests and not hold the Arab world to a lower standard of appropriate and acceptable behavior among the world of nations.



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Jonathan Feldstein is the Israel Representative of the American Friends of Magen David Adom and Director of Heart to Heart, Israel's Virtual Blood Donation program, and contributor to Travelujah - Holy Land Tours. To learn more about American Friends of Magen David Adom visit http://www.afmda.org/heart-to-heart.










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