The Dreadful Legacy of UN Resolution 181
In Damascus this week, despite many hardships, Palestinians in all of Syria’s ten official camp and three unofficial ones, paused to recall and reflect on the 1947 UN Resolution 181 and its progeny, the 1948 Nakba.
In point of fact, every year on November 29 approximately three quarters of a million Palestinian refugees, offspring of the families who were forced into Syria and Lebanon during both the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) and the 1967 Naksa (setback), along with their countrymen in more than 130 countries where they have sought refuge following their ethnic cleansing from their land join, in various ways, in this annual commemoration.
Between Nov. 29, 1947, and Jan. 1, 1949, Zionist terrorists depopulated and destroyed 531 Palestinian villages and towns, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians and expelling more than 750,000, approximately half the population. UN General Assembly resolution 181, adopted on November 29, 1947, purported to divide Palestine between the indigenous inhabitants and European colonists who arrived seeking to occupy and exploit Palestine and create an exclusive Jewish homeland. Under the UN plan, European Jews were granted more than fifty six per cent of historical Palestine while the native Palestinians, who owned ninety three per cent of the territory, were offered less than forty four percent of their own land. The partition vote was based on a UN Special Committee (UNSCOP) recommendation to divide the country into three parts: a Palestinian state with a population of 735,000, of which 725,000 were Palestinians and 10,000 Jews; a new Jewish state comprised of 499,000 Jews and 407,000 Palestinians, creating a new state with roughly less than sixty per cent Jewish majority.
Zionist leaders have never concealed their intentions especially when holding political gatherings. In addressing the Central Committee of the Histadrut (the Eretz Israel Workers Party) days after the UN vote to partition Palestine, David Ben-Gurion expressed apprehension and told the party leadership:
“…the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment will be about one million, including almost 40 per cent non-Jews. Such a [population] composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish State. This [demographic] fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority… There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 per cent.”
Ben Gurion, told Zionist leaders in December of 1947, “I don’t care if half the Jews in Europe have to die so the other half come to Palestine,” and ” Chaim Weizmann would later say: ‘With regard to the Arab question – the British told us that there are several hundred thousand Negroes there but this is a matter of no consequence.’”To ensure an absolute Jewish majority, the Zionists’ “Transfer [Expulsion] Committee” waged a terror campaign to cleanse their part of the non-Jewish population. The “War [Expulsion] Committee” under the leadership of Ben Gurion, assigned ethnic cleansing language to its military operations, from Hebrew names such as Matateh (broom), Tihur (cleansing), Biur (a Passover quasi-religious expression meaning “to cleanse the leaven”) and Niku(cleaning up). Following Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in 1948, it accelerated the land grab strategy to secure an absolute Jewish majority. The Zionists assailed, depopulated, and occupied an additional thirty per cent of the land which had been designated for the future Palestinian state under the UN plan.
Today, 66 years after UNGA Resolution 181, virtually every political party and every religious authority in Lebanon boldly and regularly pays insincere lip service to the “sacred cause of Palestine”, as “the bloodstream issue for every Arab and every Muslim.” Each avers that in Lebanon “our brothers must live in dignity until they are able to return to Palestine” and that “for us Lebanese, as their hosts, to refuse them fewer human rights than even their Zionist oppressors allow them violates our religious duty for which certainly Allah (Christians typically insert “Jesus” or “God Almighty”) will justly condemn us to Hell on judgment day.” These politicians constitute part of the problem by even refusing to grant the fundamental civil rights to work or to own a home for Palestinian refugees trapped in Lebanon. Their words are hollow.
Some claimed supporters of Justice for Palestine actually follow the Zionist line by proclaiming that “The Palestinians have never been weaker politically and that regionally, they have no allies, and internally they have neither leadership nor popular resistance.” Others argue that there is “no political basis for any other solution to the conflict that two states without full right of return because no other solution has significant political support in the world.” Some claim that “It cannot be doubted that Israel’s political existence for the foreseeable future is secure. It is thriving economically and faces no significant military threats.”
None of these assertions is accurate in this observer’s view. On the contrary, recent Resistance achievements augur well for international support for a one state solution based on one person-one vote, no ‘chosen people’ or special religious status for some but not for the indigenous inhabitants.
For example, the United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted five draft resolutions on the Question of Palestine. This year’s number of countries to vote in favor of draft resolutions on the Question of Palestine has increased compared to last year. The draft resolutions are:
A peaceful settlement of the Question of Palestine: A majority of 165 countries have voted in favor of the draft resolution while six countries voted against it namely Israel, the United States, The Marshall Islands, Canada, Palau and Micronesia. Six states abstained from voting, namely: Cameroon, Australia, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and South Sudan.
Jerusalem: A majority of 162 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution while six countries voted against it namely Israel, the United States, The Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Canada and Palau. The Special Information Program on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information of the Secretariat: A majority of 163 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution while seven countries opposed it namely Israel, the United States, Australia, Canada, The Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People: A majority of 110 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution while seven countries opposed it namely Israel, the United States, Australia, Canada, The Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. 56 countries abstained. Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat: A majority of 108 countries voted in favor of the draft resolution while seven countries opposed it namely Israel, the United States, Australia, Canada, The Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
International support for ending the Occupation of Palestine and ensuring Full Return is growing. So must Palestinian Resistance also expand utilizing the hundreds of forms of Resistance to the Zionist occupation until Palestine is free.
This region and the global community is entering deeper into the era and the culture of Resistance. Those who wring their hands lamenting the impossibility of gaining justice for Palestine and counsel the trimming of sails enable both the Zionist occupation and the delay of justice.
Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University for the 2013-2014 academic year. Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com) and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org