Saturday, 31 October 2009

Remembering Rabin

Last week Israel commemorated 14 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.  Predictably, there was much discussion in the press – and I dare say in the cafes and on the street – about his legacy.

The left have claimed his memory – he did, after all, begin the peace process with the Palestinians and make peace with Jordan.  However, prior to his (second) premiership in 1992 he was not part of the ‘Peace Now’, anti-occupation left.   Rabin was a tough, security-obsessed military man – a hero of the War of Independence, IDF Chief-Of Staff during the Six-Day War and a hawkish Defense Minister.

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Israel’s relationship with the United Nations has been turbulent to say the least.  In 1947 the UN General Assembly (GA) passed resolution 181 dividing what had been the British mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. At that point the new international body was a hero for the Jewish people, granting international legitimacy to the notion of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.

However, the GA is entirely a reflection of its members – the nations of the world.  If in 1947 those countries were well-disposed towards Zionist aspirations, it did not set a precedent. The Soviet Union, which was the first country to voice support for the partition plan, would, within a decade of that vote, have thrown its support behind the Arab states committed to Israel’s destruction.  Before long, the Soviet bloc and the Arab and Muslim world could command an automatic anti-Israel majority in the GA.  The nadir was reached in 1975 when resolution 3379 was passed, equating Zionism with racism.  Although the resolution was rescinded in 1991 (against the backdrop of the USSR’s collapse and an Arab world courting American approval) it would serve as a warning of what was to follow. In the years since, Israel has been subjected to more condemnatory GA resolutions than any other country; while there has never been a single GA resolution condemning any act of violence or aggression by any Arab state or terror organization against Israel.