CTIP history Quiz – test your knowledge of Palestinian, Israeli and Canadian history

un-partition-1947Sixty nine years ago, on November 29th, 1947, the UN took a dramatic decision to “partition” historic Palestine into a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”. The vote would have historic and tragic consequences that still shape our world. What do you know about that decision and Canada’s role in it? Here’s a test. 

CTIP history quiz

After WWI, Britain took over Palestine, promising to help make Palestine a “national homeland for the Jewish people”. With British help, hundreds of thousands of European Jews immigrated to Palestine and began to take control of the area. Thousands of Palestinian peasants were expelled from their traditional farming areas. When they resisted, the British repression was fierce. In 1947, Britain decided to turn the future of Palestine over to the United Nations. The UN created a special committee to study the issue and its recommendation was put to a vote on November 29, 1947.

map_unpartition

Map of  the Partition Plan adopted on November 29, 1947 by the UN General Assembly

Test your knowledge. Rate yourself: The right answers are below (no peeking)

  • Fewer than 10 correct answers – you need to brush up
  • 11- 15 right answers – impressive
  • 16 – 19 right answers – very impressive – a history buff!
  • 21 right answers – We are sure you peeked!!

QUESTIONS

  1. In the General Assembly vote in 1947, did Canada vote “yes” or “no” on the resolution to divide Palestine?
  1. How many parts was Palestine to be divided into?
  1. Who cast Canada’s vote?
  1. What Canadian diplomat was praised by jubilant Zionist groups as the “Lord Balfour of Canada”?
  1. What was the name of the sub-committee that formulated the UN General Assembly resolution proposing partition?
  1. Which of the following countries were represented on that committee? (Great Britain, The United States, Canada)
  1. What did the New York Times call the proposal to partition Palestine?
  2. How did the Palestinian delegation vote? Yes or no? (this is a trick question)
  1. Were the Jewish groups in Palestine in favour of, or opposed to, the partition plan?
  1. What was the final vote count in the UN General Assembly?
  1. After the vote, how much longer did British military forces remain in Palestine?
  1. What did the resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states?
  1. Is that what happened?
  1. Were the Palestinians expelled militarily, or did they just “run away”?
  1. Where did non-Jewish Palestinians flee to?
  1. When did Israel declare itself as a State?
  1. How many Palestinians had been expelled or frightened into leaving by that date?
  1. When did neighbouring Arab countries declare war on the new State of Israel?
  1. What were the borders of the new State of Israel?
  1. How much longer did the expulsions continue?
  1. When hostilities ended in 1949, how many Palestinians were still in Israel, and how many had been made refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, and in neighbouring countries?

BONUS QUESTION

What would have happened if Canada had opened its hearts and border to Jewish refugees in 1947 (like we have done for Syrians), instead of opposing their entry into Canada and directing them to Palestine instead? Would Canada be a better place today? Would the Middle East be a safer place?

ANSWERS

  1. In the General Assembly vote in 1947, did Canada vote “yes” or “no” on the resolution to divide Palestine?
  • Canada voted “yes” to the partition of Palestine.
  1. How many parts was Palestine to be divided into?
  • According to UN resolution 181, Palestine was to be divided into 3 parts:  A Jewish State, an Arab State, and the City of Jerusalem which was to be independent, and under international protection as the shared heritage of the 3 major religions in the region: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
  1. Who cast Canada’s vote?
  • Canada’s vote was cast by our ambassador to the UN, Lester B. Pearson (later to become prime minister of Canada)
  1. What Canadian diplomat was praised by jubilant Zionist groups as the “Lord Balfour of Canada”?
  • The same Lester B. Pearson. (ref: The Truth May Hurt, p. 39 by Yves Engler)
  1. What was the name of the sub-committee that formulated the resolution proposing partition which was submitted to the UN General Assembly?
  • The UN created a subcommittee called the “UN Special Committee on Palestine or “UNSCOP”
  1. Which of the following countries were represented on that committee? (Great Britain, The United States, Canada)
  1. What did the New York Times call the proposal to partition Palestine?
  • The New York Times called the partition plan “The Canadian plan”. (Engler, op. cit. p. 38)
  1. How did Palestine vote? Yes or no? (this is a trick question)
  • Palestine did not have a vote. It was not a member of the UN (it was still under the British mandate).
  1. Were the Jewish groups in Palestine in favour of, or opposed to, the partition plan?

    irgun-recruiting-poster

    A recruiting poster of the Irgun, one of the Zionist militia units. It claimed all of Palestine and Jordan as a Jewish state and opposed the partition plan.

  • Jewish groups were divided. Some, like the Irgun militia group, were opposed to partition. They thought they deserved the whole of mandate Palestine. Others, like David Ben Gurion’s Jewish Agency, thought it was wiser to accept the partition as a temporary first step.
  1. What was the final vote count in the UN General Assembly?
  • The vote was 38 in favour, 13 opposed, 10 abstaining, 1 absent. The UN had only 57 members in 1947, and was dominated by European, British Commonwealth, North American and Latin American nations.
  1. After the vote, how much longer did British military forces remain in Palestine?
  • Palestine officially remained under British control for another 6 months, until May 15 1948.
  1. What did the resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states?
  1. Is that what happened?
  • The day after the UN vote, Zionist militias began attacking Palestinians in Jaffa, the largest Palestinian city. This is described wih remarkable frankness at the Etzel Museum, called the “Museum of the Liberation of Jaffa”. This is while Britain was still nominally in control and five months before Israel’s declaration of independence.
  1. Were the Palestinians expelled militarily, or did they just “run away”?
  • In some villages there were massacres and people forced to leave at gunpoint. In other cases, people ran to safety when they heard about massacres in neighbouring villages which the British military made no effort to stop. But, international law makes no distinction between the two. They all are refugees.refugee-map
  1. Where did non-Jewish Palestinians flee to?
  • The Zionist forces tried to push the Palestinians in specific directions. Some were pushed north to Lebanon, others went inland towards Syria and Jordan. Many fled to Gaza. Some went into hiding in the mountains or deserts inside what would become Israel.
  1. When did Israel declare itself as a State?
  • Israel declared its independence on May 14th, 1948, the day before the British mandate was scheduled to end.
  1. How many Palestinians had been expelled or frightened into leaving by that date?
  • It is estimated that when Israel declared independence, about 400,000 Palestinians had already been forced into Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza.
  1. When did neighbouring Arab countries declare war on the new State of Israel?
  • Neighbouring Arab countries declared war on Israel May 15th, 1948, the day after the British mandate ended and Israel had declared itself a state.
  1. What were the borders of the new State of Israel?
  • Israel did not declare its borders. It continued to seize territory expelling more people. It finally signed a series of armistices with its neighbours establishing a temporary “green line”. This green line has become Israel’s “de facto” border, and gives Israel control of about 50% more land than was authorized by the UN vote.
  1. How much longer did the expulsions continue?
  • Israeli forces continued a “mopping up” operation, rounding up and expelling Palestinians for another 8 or 9 months. Other mass expulsions occurred in 1950 and 1956.
  1. When hostilities ended in 1949, how many Palestinians were still in Israel, and how many had been made refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, and in neighbouring countries?
  • At that time, there were still about 150,000 Palestinians inside Israel, and another 750,000 refugees spread out in the region.

BONUS QUESTION

What would have happened if Canada had opened its hearts and border to Jewish refugees in 1947 (like we have done for Syrians), instead of opposing their entry into Canada and directing them to Palestine instead? Would Canada be a better place today? Would the Middle East be a safer place?

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Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. If you support our educational mission, why not join? Or make a donation? Or learn more about what we do?  Contact us at; membership.ctip@gmail.com.

 

 

11 comments

  1. @Peter

    Nice job on the quiz. I’ll comment though that while I think the facts presented are accurate it is a bit misleading. First of all while there was some Jewish decent in all directions the Jewish community was overwhelmingly supportive. There wasn’t anything like an equal divide. Leaders at the time, particularly Truman and Nehru complained about the amount of pressure they were feeling on this issue to vote for partition.

    The other impression I think thatis misleading is that right after the mandate ended a war started. The reality is that a civil war had been going on for a year and the civil war’s intensity was the reason that GB walked away. A more accurate timeline would say that there was low level violence all through the 1940s and that starting around November 1947 you had a civil war in Palestine. Your answer in question 17 hints at the earlier fighting, but answers like 18 confuse the issue. Syria had sent the Arab liberation army (funded by Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia) into Palestine well before May 1948. The first major battle for the ALA was Jan 8, 1948.

    What changed after Israeli independence was that Arab countries could officially intervene militarily without officially declaring themselves at war with GB. Since they didn’t recognize Israel they argued they were intervening in a now ungoverned territory. That’s a change in legal status but it is not a change on the ground. I should say that most didn’t declare war on Israel, that part of the answer is inaccurate. Declaring war is an act of recognition. The same way the USA and Russia haven’t declared war on ISIS. What they claimed their objective were things like “eradicate Zionism” or “sweep the Jews into the sea”.

    What really changes on the ground in May 1948 is that the Yishuv / Israel starts getting shipped much heavier weapons from the eastern block. Finally in the context of the 1940s and the refugees. They can’t be refugees from Israel if there is no Israel. They were considered refugees from Palestine. But by 1949 there was no Palestine anymore. Generally the position is that when a new government arises in a territory that government has responsibility for that population of that territory. But one can’t argue that the government of Israel doesn’t exist on the one hand and that the government of Israel has responsibility for the population of the territory within Israel on the other. The entity which has responsibility for the population in a territory is the government of that territory. Which is why the Israeli government rejected the Arab League’s claim as being inherently contradictory. The UN never resolved the issue.

    The UN’s role in the Palestine Civil War was simply not central. They were led and trying to respond throughout the conflict by the changes on the ground. By 1948 no government was willing to spend what it would have cost to keep the peace in Palestine so there wasn’t much the UN could do.

  2. Based on the facts mentioned in the quiz, especially the fact Palestine didn’t independently participate nor vote for the partitioning resolution, a new General Assembly vote for a current resolution should be debated and considered including: does the UN has right to divid a country?

    1. @Abdul —

      The UN clearly believes it has the right to determine borders including the right to divide countries. South Sudan is a recent example.

      As far as the comment about a new resolution, that was tried already. UN Resolution 3379 unequivocally condemned Jewish self determination arguing that what Zionists aimed to accomplish, for Jews to live in equality with the other peoples, was intrinsically racist, not merely racist in its application. “ that the racist regime in occupied Palestine and the racist regime in Zimbabwe and South Africa have a common imperialist origin, forming a whole and having the same racist structure and being organically linked in their policy aimed at repression of the dignity and integrity of the human being.. zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology,

      The UN had declared itself an officially enemy of Israel not just of particular policies, not just of a particular government but an enemy of the whole Jewish nation. World opinion both those in favor of 3379 and those opposed was that it was clear that the UN could no longer “claim to seek peace” and that it had now committed itself to a policy of “challenging Israel’s right to exist”. For the UN Jewish self determination was not a legitimate activity. Jews were not a nation. Attempts by Jews to live in equality with the other people’s of the world were intrinsically evil, not merely specifically evil. Since this is a BDS board its worth commenting that 3379 is essentially the BDS position as well. You couldn’t have asked for a stronger resolution than 3379.

      For Zionists the clear implication of this resolution was that Jews weren’t people or some sort of deformed variant of humans for whom any attempt at normality was an intrinsic wrong. The UN was now on record all but agreeing with the final solution as the appropriate means of having resolved the Jewish question.

      Then what happened was the UN was completely divorced from any role in Palestine for 16 years. There was nothing more to say. Israel was at the time of 3379 aggressively building a nuclear capability which could penetrate Soviet defenses. Acting on 3379 was too dangerous for even those many countries who agreed. The UN however claims to want a bigger role than an fringe activist group. The UN wants to influence the policies of governments as they impact the world. So the UN repented agreeing that 3379 was a violation of the charter. It ran contrary to the goals of the UN “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors.

      The UN didn’t create Israel. The UN can’t destroy Israel.

      1. Thanks for refreshing my memory and reminding me that the UN is not the main resolution maker. Am curious! Who, how and when a solution could be found?

  3. Hi Peter, I clearly need some brushing up. I was also a bit confused by the answer to Q.10. If there were 57 member states of the UN at the time of voting should the vote result not add up to 57? 38 in favour, 13 opposed, 10 abstaining, 1 absent = 62 Just curious. Thanks, Harold

    It is not wealth which our civilization has created, but riches, with its necessary companion poverty; for riches cannot exist without poverty, or in other words, slavery. – William Morris

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