Exactly 71 years ago, the UN voted to partition Palestine. Canada played a role. How well do you know Canadian history? Try this quiz.

un-partition-1947

The UN General assembly voted on Nov. 29th 1947 to partition Palestine. How many countries voted? What role did Canada play? And what happened next? Take this test to see the state of your knowledge.

CTIP history quiz

map_unpartition (1)

UN partition plan adopted Nov. 29, 1947 (but never implemented)

After WWI, Britain took over Palestine, promising to help create a “national homeland for the Jewish people” in Palestine.

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 of the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947.

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, how did Canada vote “yes” or “no”?
  2. How many parts was Palestine to be divided into?
  3. Who cast Canada’s vote?
  4. What special role did Canada play?
  5. What did the New York Times call the proposal to partition Palestine?
  6. What Canadian diplomat was praised by jubilant Zionist groups as the “Lord Balfour of Canada”?
  7. How did the Palestinian delegation vote? Yes or no? (this is a trick question)
  8. Were the Jewish groups in Palestine in favour of, or opposed to, the partition plan?
  9. What was the final vote count in the UN General Assembly?
  10. After the vote, how much longer did British military forces remain in Palestine?
  11. What did the UN resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states?
  12. Is that what happened?
  13. Were the Palestinians expelled militarily, or did they just “run away”?
  14. Where did non-Jewish Palestinians flee to?
  15. When did Israel declare itself as a State?
  16. How many Palestinians had been expelled or frightened into leaving by that date?
  17. When did neighbouring Arab countries declare war on the new State of Israel?
  18. What were the borders of the new State of Israel?
  19. How much longer did the expulsions continue?
  20. 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?

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.
  2. How many parts was Palestine to be divided into? Three: According to UN resolution 181,Palestine was to be divided into 1:  A Jewish State, 2: an Arab State, and 3: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.
  3. 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)
  4. What special role did Canada play? Canada was a member of a small sub-committee (UN Special committee on Palestine) that proposed partition.
  5. 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)
  6. pearson-13120-portrait-medium

    Lester Pearson supported the partition of Palestine. Zionists called him the “Lord Balfour of Canada”

    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)

  7. How did the Palestinian delegation vote on the idea of partition? 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).
  8. Were the Jewish groups in Palestine in favour of, or opposed to, 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.
  9. 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 Europe and North American and Latin American nations.
  10. 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.
  11. What did the UN resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states? It said that everyone would “become citizens of the State in which they were resident and enjoy full civil and political rights

    irgun recruiting poster

    Irgun recruiting poster. It claimed all of Palestine and all of Jordan as part of “Erez Israel”

  12. Is that what happened? NO. The day after the UN vote, while Britain was still nominally in control and five months before Israel’s declaration of independence, Zionist militias began attacking Palestinians in Jaffa, the largest Palestinian city. This is described with remarkable frankness at the Etzel Museum, called the “Museum of the Liberation of Jaffa”.
  13. Were the Palestinians expelled militarily, or did they just “run away”? Some wealthy and well educated Palestinians fled right after partition sensing trouble ahead. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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 displaced.
  17. 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.
  18. 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 allowing Israel to control of about 50% more land than was authorized by the UN vote.
  19. How much longer did the expulsions continue? Israeli forces continued rounding up and expelling Palestinians for another 8 or 9 months. Other mass expulsions occurred even after 1949.
  20. 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.

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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. This requires a good knowledge about historical facts. If we have our facts wrong, please help us. We encourage brief comments (under 100 words) from serious readers. To learn more about what we do, contact us at chair.ctip@gmail.com. 

8 comments

  1. Good survey of the beginning of Israel Palestine conflict. For those in favour of a 2 state solution along 67 lines with land swaps and capitals on West and East Jerusalem respectively, and the internationalization of old city religious Judaic, Christan and Islamic sights, it is like “Deja vue all over again” (in the immortal words of Yogi Berra).
    Challenge is to get this baseball I mean political religious national game to end better than the last one 70 yrs later in terms of a final peace settlement.

  2. I gave myself 13.5 Here are my answers and a few comments:

    1. Yes 1
    2. 7 (0) Correct answer 3
    3. ? 0 Pearson
    4. They were on the special commission that visited Palestine and recommended the partition plan 1
    5. ? 0
    6. ? 0
    7. The Palestinian mandate was not a member of the UN and did not have a vote 1
    8. There was division, since Palestine had already been partitioned once before, excluding Jews from 80% of the territory, but in the end they accepted it. 1 (I didn’t say it was a temporary first step)
    9. 33-16 0
    10. They started to withdraw in stages, with the last British forces departing on May 14, 1948 1

    11. It said that their existing civil rights should not be negatively affected by the plan 0.5

    12. No, Jews and Arabs were both expelled from the territory that did not remain in the hands of their respective armies. All Jews were expelled from the territory captured by the Arabs. The majority of the Arabs were expelled from the territory captured by the Jews 1

    (Your answer refers only to Jewish attacks in Jaffa and ignores attacks on Jews at the same time in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country)

    13. Some left after partition as a result of the civil war that broke out after the approval of the partition plan. Some left as a result of the fighting after Palestine was invaded by the neighbouring states. Some were deliberately expelled by Jewish forces, during the weeks just before the Arab invasion.
    1

    (Your answer does not mention the tens of thousands of Jews who were likewise driven from their homes in Palestine and the hundreds of thousands who were subsequently expelled all over the Arab world)

    14. They fled to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. A large number were internally displaced within Palestine, moving from areas controlled by the Jews to areas that were controlled by the Jordanian and Egyptian forces at the end of the war.

    1 Your account puts all the blame on the Jews, but neglects to mention that the Jews were facing an imminent invasion by the surrounding states.

    15. May 14, 1948 1
    16. 500,000 0 (400,000)
    17. May 15, 1948 1
    18. They were the armistice lines at the end of the war of Independence. 1
    19. Additional Palestinians were expelled in the months after the end of the war. 1
    20. 150,000 remained. 650,000 to 750,000 had become refugees or internally displaced persons. 1

    Understanding the events of 1948 is very important to eventually resolving the conflict in Palestine. Both sides have to try to understand the perspective of the other. There is no other way toward peaceful coexistence.

    The cases where an insurgency has been totally defeated in recent years have been in Sri Lanka, Syria, and Chechnya at horrific cost in civilian lives. I don’t want to see an outcome like that in Israel/Palestine. Israel is militarily capable of what Sri Lanka did and what Russia has done in Syria and Chechnya, but has refrained from doing so because it would be wrong and contrary to the values of the Israeli people and their leadership.

    The alternative, in my opinion, is for both sides to put some water in their wine and accept territorial compromise aka the two state solution along lines similar to those proposed by Olmert to Abbas in 2008.

  3. In answer to question 13, I count four groups not two. (1)The fortunate and wealthy who fled to new permanent homes, (2) Those who fled to supposedly temporary refuges to avoid the advancing military, (3) Those who were forced leave at gunpoint, (4) Those who hid and were able to remain and emerge as a subjugated minority in what had been their country.

    Many Israelis claim that the people did not flee but merely tried to clear the way for what they thought would be advancing Arab armies. I have never met one of those.

    Other Israelis claim that their soldiers told Palestinians that they could remain and would not be harmed. There is some truth in that. I know a Palestinian family that heard that but did not believe it. I would not even doubt that the soldiers who said that believed it. However, they were not the only soldiers.

    There is a historical analogy that Israeli supporters should able to understand. When my father was on his way out of Austria, an official tried to convince him to remain – assuring him that he would be safe. If he had believed that, I would not exist. I suspect that the officer who advised him to stay believed what he said. Luckily for me, my father did not. My maternal grandmother was also assured that she could stay and would be safe. She believed it. She was later deported and died in a concentration camp. One cousin who was about my age was sent to a Muslim family in Lebanon. She eventually exercised a “right of return” and lived in Germany but did not feel safe. She used to enjoy taking us to Arab restaurants and speaking Arabic. She told me that she felt most comfortable there. My parents, who did very well in their new home, considered themselves refugees. They did not leave voluntarily. I see no reason not to treatable four groups of Palestinians as refugees and deserving of our support.

    I think of myself as coming from a refugee family and I consider all four groups of Palestinians to be refugees. Just as we Jews, some were a lot luckier than others but very few would have left without the threat of violence.

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