Background of the UN partition recommendation
“….support by the Government of the United States of a policy favoring the setting up of a Jewish State in Palestine would be contrary to the wishes of a large majority of the local inhabitants with respect to their form of government. Furthermore, it would have a strongly adverse effect upon American interests throughout the Near and Middle East…”
“At the present time the United States has a moral prestige in the Near and Middle East unequaled by that of any other great power. We would lose that prestige and would be likely for many years to be considered as a betrayer of the high principles which we ourselves have enunciated during the period of the war.”
“…[partition] would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future…”
….[proposals for partition] are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the [UN] Charter as well as to principles on which American concepts of Government are based. These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instances as to discriminate on grounds of religion and race…”
Henderson wasn’t exaggerating. Official after official and agency after agency opposed Zionism.
Truman Accedes to Pro-Israel Lobby
President Harry Truman, however, ignored this advice. Truman’s political advisor, Clark Clifford, believed that the Jewish vote and contributions were essential to winning the upcoming presidential election, and that supporting the partition plan would garner that support. (Truman’s opponent, Dewey, took similar stands for similar reasons.)
Truman’s Secretary of State George Marshall, the renowned World War II General and author of the Marshall Plan, was furious to see electoral considerations taking precedence over policies based on national interest. He condemned what he called a “transparent dodge to win a few votes,” which would cause “[t]he great dignity of the office of President [to be] seriously diminished.”
Marshall wrote that the counsel offered by Clifford “was based on domestic political considerations, while the problem which confronted us was international. I said bluntly that if the President were to follow Mr. Clifford’s advice and if in the elections I were to vote, I would vote against the President…”
Henry F. Grady, who has been called “America’s top diplomatic soldier for a critical period of the Cold War,” headed a 1946 commission aimed at coming up with a solution for Palestine. Grady later wrote about the Zionist lobby and its damaging effect on US national interests.
“I have had a good deal of experience with lobbies but this group started where those of my experience had ended….. I have headed a number of government missions but in no other have I ever experienced so much disloyalty”…… “in the United States, since there is no political force to counterbalance Zionism, its campaigns are apt to be decisive.”
“…to transform [Palestine] into a Jewish State capable of receiving a million or more immigrants would vastly exacerbate the political problem and imperil not only American but all Western interests in the Near East.”
Forrestal represented the general Pentagon view when he said that “no group in this country should be permitted to influence our policy to the point where it could endanger our national security.”
A report by the National Security Council warned that the Palestine turmoil was acutely endangering the security of the United States. A CIA report stressed the strategic importance of the Middle East and its oil resources.
Similarly, George F. Kennan, the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning, issued a top-secret document on January 19, 1947 that outlined the enormous damage done to the US by the partition plan (“Report by the Policy Planning Staff on Position of the United States with Respect to Palestine”).
Kennan cautioned that “important U.S. oil concessions and air base rights” could be lost through US support for partition and warned that the USSR stood to gain by the partition plan.
“The process by which Zionist Jews have been able to promote American support for the partition of Palestine demonstrates the vital need of a foreign policy based on national rather than partisan interests… Only when the national interests of the United States, in their highest terms, take precedence over all other considerations, can a logical, farseeing foreign policy be evolved. No American political leader has the right to compromise American interests to gain partisan votes…”
“The present course of world crisis will increasingly force upon Americans the realization that their national interests and those of the proposed Jewish state in Palestine are going to conflict. It is to be hoped that American Zionists and non-Zionists alike will come to grips with the realities of the problem.”
“U.S. support for partition of Palestine as a solution to that problem can be justified only on the basis of Arab and Jewish consent. Otherwise we should violate the principle of self-determination which has been written into the Atlantic Charter, the declaration of the United Nations, and the United Nations Charter–a principle that is deeply embedded in our foreign policy. Even a United Nations determination in favor of partition would be, in the absence of such consent, a stultification and violation of UN’s own charter.”
“…the Jews will be the actual aggressors against the Arabs. However, the Jews will claim that they are merely defending the boundaries of a state which were traced by the UN…In the event of such Arab outside aid the Jews will come running to the Security Council with the claim that their state is the object of armed aggression and will use every means to obscure the fact that it is their own armed aggression against the Arabs inside which is the cause of Arab counter-attack.”
Pro-Israel Pressure on General Assembly Members
“Every clue was meticulously checked and pursued. Not the smallest or the remotest of nations, but was contacted and wooed. Nothing was left to chance.”
Longtime Zionist Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, along with ten senators and Truman domestic advisor Clark Clifford, threatened the Philippines (seven bills were pending on the Philippines in Congress).
Before the vote on the plan, the Philippine delegate had given a passionate speech against partition, defending the inviolable “primordial rights of a people to determine their political future and to preserve the territorial integrity of their native land…”
He went on to say that he could not believe that the General Assembly would sanction a move that would place the world “back on the road to the dangerous principles of racial exclusiveness and to the archaic documents of theocratic governments.”
Twenty-four hours later, after intense Zionist pressure, the delegate voted in favor of partition.
The U.S. delegation to the U.N. was so outraged when Truman insisted that they support partition that the State Department director of U.N. Affairs was sent to New York to prevent the delegates from resigning en masse.
On Nov 29, 1947 the partition resolution, 181, passed. While this resolution is frequently cited, it was of limited (if any) legal impact. General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions, are not binding on member states. For this reason, the resolution requested that “[t]he Security Council take the necessary measures as provided for in the plan for its implementation,” which the Security Council never did. Legally, the General Assembly Resolution was a “recommendation” and did not create any states.
What it did do, however, was increase the fighting in Palestine. Within months (and before Israel dates the beginning of its founding war) the Zionists had forced out 413,794 people. Zionist military units had stealthily been preparing for war before the UN vote and had acquired massive weaponry, some of it through a widespread network of illicit gunrunning operations in the US under a number of front groups.
The UN eventually managed to create a temporary and very partial ceasefire. A Swedish UN mediator who had previously rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis was dispatched to negotiate an end to the violence. Israeli assassins killed him and Israel continued what it was to call its “war of independence.”
At the end of this war, through a larger military force than that of its adversaries and the ruthless implementation of plans to push out as many non-Jews as possible, Israel came into existence on 78 per cent of Palestine.
At least 33 massacres of Palestinian civilians were perpetrated, half of them before a single Arab army had entered the conflict, hundreds of villages were depopulated and razed, and a team of cartographers was sent out to give every town, village, river, and hillock a new, Hebrew name. All vestiges of Palestinian habitation, history, and culture were to be erased from history, an effort that almost succeeded.
Israel, which claims to be the “only democracy in the Middle East,’ decided not to declare official borders or to write a constitution, a situation which continues to this day. In 1967 it took still more Palestinian and Syrian land, which is now illegally occupied territory, since the annexation of land through military conquest is outlawed by modern international law. It has continued this campaign of growth through armed acquisition and illegal confiscation of land ever since.
Individual Israelis, like Palestinians and all people, are legally and morally entitled to an array of human rights.
Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. See the “History of US-Israel Relations” on both the IAK and the CNI websites for detailed citations for the above information. Additional references can be found in “How Palestine Became Israel.”