On November 29th, 1947, exactly 74 years ago, the UN took a dramatic decision to “partition” historic Palestine into a “Jewish State” and an “Arab State”. What do you know about that decision and Canada’s role in it? First, try our test. Then register for the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine webinar on December 7th: “Why is the UN so critical of Israel?“with UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk. Read more…
UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
OBSERVANCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
29 November 2021, 10.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. (NY Time)
General Assembly Hall
The UN will be livestreaming an event from 1000-1230 EST. It’s billed as “a Special Meeting of the Committee where UN Members States express their solidarity with the Palestinian people through messages by Heads of States and Government.” Canada has the right to intervene if it wants. But will it???
First – try our history quiz
After WWI, Britain took over Palestine, with foreign minister Arthur Balfour promising to create a “national homeland for the Jewish people” in Palestine. 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.
Test your knowledge on these 16 questions. Rate yourself: The right answers can be found at the very end of this post (no peeking)
- Fewer than 10 correct answers – (We hope you learned some things of interest to you)
- 11- 15 right answers – impressive
- 16 right answers – very impressive – a history buff
- In the General Assembly vote in 1947, did Canada vote “yes” or “no” on the resolution to divide Palestine?
- How many parts was Palestine to be divided into?
- Who cast Canada’s vote?
- What Canadian diplomat was praised by jubilant Zionist groups as the “Lord Balfour of Canada”?
- How did the Palestinian delegation vote? Yes or no? (this is a trick question)
- Were the Jewish groups in Palestine in favour of, or opposed to, the partition plan?
- What was the final vote count in the UN General Assembly?
- What did the resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states?
- Were the Palestinians expelled militarily, or did they just “run away”?
- Where did non-Jewish Palestinians flee to?
- When did Israel declare itself as a State?
- How many Palestinians had been expelled or frightened into leaving by that date?
- When did neighbouring Arab countries declare war on the new State of Israel?
- What were the borders of the new State of Israel?
- How much longer did the expulsions continue?
- 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?
(These are all factual questions. None of them deals with the fundamental morality of giving part of Palestine to European refugees who wanted to settle there.)
- What would have happened if Canada had opened its hearts and border to Jewish refugees in 1947 (like we have done for Syrians more recently), instead of directing them to Palestine?
Second – the OFIP WEBINAR
Why is the UN so critical of Israel? Is it fair?
Tuesday, December 7th 2021, 7:30 p.m.
with Dr. Peter Larson, Chair, Ottawa Forum on Israel Palestine, and
Professor Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
By registration only.
Register in advance for this webinar:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Here are the answers to skill testing questions
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 as it was still under the British mandate. Palestine is still only an “observer state” at the UN and not a full member
- 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.
- What was the final vote count in the UN General Assembly? The vote was 33 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.
- What did the resolution say about the fate of the “minorities” living in each of the new states? It said that everyone would “upon the recognition of independence, become citizens of the State in which they were resident and enjoy full civil and political rights”
- 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.
- Where did Christian and Muslim 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. The 20% of Palestinians who were not expelled were eventually given Israeli citizenship.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- What were the borders of the new State of Israel? Israel has still not declared 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.
- 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, 1956 and 1967.
- 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 about 150,000 Palestinians remaining inside Israel, and another 750,000 refugees spread out in the region.
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 directing them to Palestine instead?
- Lamentably, Canada was still very tainted by anti-Semitism at that time. If instead Canada had welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees in 1947/48 – including doctors, and lawyers and business people – Canada would no doubt be a better place today. The Middle East would no doubt be a safer place as well.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org
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