The Partition of Palestine
Sixty-five years ago, on the 29th of this month the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 181, dividing the Palestinian territory into two areas, one for a Jewish state and one for a Palestinian state, with special provisions for Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
This action was in defiance of the United Nations Charter adopted two years earlier which placed the right of self-determination into the center of international law and diplomacy. Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 states that the purpose of the UN Charter is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples….”
The United Nations played a significant part in the movements that freed most African and Asian colonies from European empires. Resolution 181 was an exception in that, while it provided for the removal of British control, it mandated the division of the land, rather than allowing for self-determination by the people who lived there.
At that time Jews constituted 33% of the population and owned 10% of the land.
UN Resolution 181 partitioned Palestine into two areas, 56% for a Jewish state and 43% for a Palestinian state.
The official date for this action to take effect was May 15, 1948. Militant activity began immediately and by May 15, nearly all Palestinians had been driven out from the area set aside for the Jewish state.
For 65 years the results of the partition of Palestine have been a major, and not positive, factor in all matters dealing with the Middle East.
Over the years my perspective on this event has changed. In 1948 I shared the general opinion that it was wonderful that these people of God were returning to the land that God promised to Abraham.
In the late 1950’s I visited Palestine and Israel and, because of what I saw there, I began to recognize that there were differing ways of looking at what happened. I started listening to the voices for justice as a basis for peace. I began to feel a concern for those who were exiles and refugees.
Today my Christian faith informs my thinking about Israel. It is one secular nation among the nations of the world. There is no justification for its occupation of territory that is not theirs. It is wrong that they have created a million refugees. It is inexcusable that my country supports its land stealing, oppression and military activity outside its recognized borders.
Do a few verses in the Old Testament create a mandate in today’s world?
Is the Bible more concerned about justice or geography?
What should I be doing about a situation that I, through my government, support while I believe it to be unjust and oppressive?