A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 29, 1947 and November 29, 2012: Is 65 Years Long Enough?

If all goes according to plan, the United Nations General Assembly will vote today on whether the Palestinian Authority should be admitted as a "Non-Member Observer State." Because such a calamity would cause several planets to spin out of their orbits and crash into the sun, the US (and Israel) are opposed. The vote will have a mostly symbolic impact, though Israel may retaliate against the Palestinian Authority in ways that are not at all symbolic.

But there is one major piece of symbolism that has received very little comment in the US media, at least so far as I've seen. (A major exception is Lior Sternfeld's column over at Juan Cole's blog a couple of days ago: "'Let the Palestinians Have Their Kaf Tet be-November.") 

As Sternfeld explains:
On November 29, 1947 the UN general assembly granted the Zionist movement one of its most prominent diplomatic achievements, when it approved the Palestine Partition Plan. The non-binding resolution, never voted on by the UN Security Council, proposed dividing the land of the British mandate into a Jewish State and an Arab-Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership rejected the UNGA resolution as giving away a substantial amount of territory to which they felt what they viewed as foreign settlers had no right. In contrast, Jews welcomed the idea of partition in principle (though they did not commit to settled borders for Israel) and they moved forward to establish the state of Israel.

Kaf-Tet means 29 in Hebrew letters, and to date every Israeli child can tell by heart what Kaf-Tet Be’November is, even if he does not know what or when November is. Every Israeli child recognizes the old radio recording of the voting process and thus know how Argentina and Australia voted on this issue (abstention and yes respectively). The war that erupted immediately afterwards and the bloodshed that has transpired since prevented the full implementation of the solution.
Yes. Today marks the anniversary of the United Nations vote in 1947 to partition the Palestine Mandate into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. (You may recall a dramatic scene in the movie Exodus, which explained how blue-eyed Paul Newman and blonde Eva Marie Saint founded Israel, in wh8ch listeners wait for the radio account of the roll call.) Yes, the Arabs rejected partition then. But 65 years have passed, and there's something like a consensus for a '"two state solution" but little will to get there.

The Palestinians chose a significant date for their new bid for legitimacy, but other than the post above I've seen little comment on the 65th anniversary of Kaf-Tet be-November.


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