Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Distortion of History

On Monday The New York Times ran an op/ed piece from Mahmoud Abbas on "The Long Overdue Palestinian State." The article is based on a revisionist view of history that disturbs me. Here is one of the key paragraphs:
It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.
To help put the UN partition vote in perspective, I've included the front page of The New York Times with its original coverage of that UN General Assembly vote. The final vote was 33 in favor of partitioning the land into two states and 13 opposed. The Jewish population in Palestine, though they didn't have an official vote in the UN, had agreed to the proposal. So who opposed it? Well, the Arabs living in Palestine along with 13 voting member of the UN. These were Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Yemen. The article also makes this clear. "The walkout of the Arab delegates was taken as a clear indication that the Palestinian Arabs would have nothing to do with the Assembly's decision."

Look carefully at the list of nations opposed to a two-state solution in 1947. Apart from Greece and Cuba, the remaining 11 countries share one thing in common. They are all Muslim countries, and they include every Arab country from the Middle East that could vote!

Abbas' op/ed piece tries to blame Israel for the failure of a Palestinian state. He implies that Israel was responsible for the war that resulted in the expulsion of the Palestinians. In fact, it was the Arabs who opposed the formation of the State of Israel as part of any two state solution, and it was the Arabs (including the Palestinians) who sought to destroy Israel.

Did the ensuing conflict result in a refugee problem? Yes it did...on both sides. (Remember that hundreds of thousands of Jews were also expelled from Muslim countries following the formation of the State of Israel.) Did the conflict prohibit the formation of a State of Palestine? It did...especially after Egypt and Jordan swallowed up the land that had been allocated to a Palestinian State. Did Israel end up with more land than had been originally allocated to them by the UN? Yes they did...as the result of a war imposed on them by the surrounding countries who sought to deny the Jews the right to have a country they could call their own.

President Abbas, it is the Arabs who are ultimately responsible for the lack of a Palestinian state. Isn't it about time to stop blaming the Jews...and to acknowledge your past failures? It seems like that sort of honesty is an important first step toward any lasting peace.

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