Israel's UN Mission Celebrates 70th Anniversary of UN Vote in 1947 Establishing the Jewish State in the Land of Israel
United States Vice President, Mike Pence, delivering his keynote speech.
By Henry Levy
December 15, 2017 Hanukkah issue
Over 700 people were riveted to the screen, viewing the re-enactment of the historic vote on November 29, 1947 at the UN, passing Resolution 181, calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. As 73 diplomats cast the 33 crucial votes required for the 2/3 majority needed for passage, one could hear a pin drop as each country was called and its vote recorded. The tension kept mounting and when the motion finally passed, the entire audience erupted into applause. It was as if we had all been there. Indeed, we were present at the original site where this extremely dramatic event took place 70 years ago.
There was some drama this time as well as the Queens Museum board, after authorizing Israel's request to celebrate at this storied location decided to cancel their approval because of feedback from “Palestinian friends of the museum”. Also museum director Laura Raicovich was the co-editor of a book on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel which may have been a factor. The expected uproar by Israel's Ambassador Danny Danon was immediate and included a demand for Raicovich's dismissal and a reversal of their decision. Congresswoman Grace Meng and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, among others, condemned this outrage and soon all plans were back on track.
Vice President Mike Pence, the keynote speaker, was joined by Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and numerous other top Israeli and world leaders, including ambassadors from more than 60 nations around the world.
Ambassador Danon is the first Israeli to serve as Chair of a Permanent Committee at the UN and is a Vice President of the General Assembly. In discussing the vote in 1947 he remarked that “We Israelis do not take no for an answer.” Emissaries travelled around the world to make the case for a Jewish State so that after 2000 years the Jews could finally come home. It was a challenging task, but as Ben-Gurion famously said, ”The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.”
Ron Lauder praised the attendance of Ambassadors from over 60 countries and Vice President Pence. In 1947 Israel accepted a piece of their homeland to live with their Arab neighbors who to this day still do not accept Israel. He recounted that once the State of Israel was declared and five Arab countries attacked it, the UN turned away and did nothing. When the vote was announced, in displaced persons camps throughout Europe, Holocaust survivors sang Hatikvah. Lauder added, “May God bless the countries that voted for it, the soldiers who died for it and for the hope of peace in the region.”
The UN Chef de Cabinet, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti delivered a message from the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. He extended “warm greetings to all gathered here to commemorate Resolution 181 that led to the establishment of the State of Israel.”
Following are selected remarks by the Vice President Commemorating U.N. Vote Establishing Israel, at the Queens Museum, New York, NY. Pence will be visiting Israel for on December 17th during Hanukkah.
We gather today on the eve of a historic anniversary to celebrate what happened here, in this very hall, 70 years ago when the United Nations declared to the modern world an ancient truth, that the Jewish people have a natural, irrevocable right to an independent state in their ancestral and eternal homeland.
The President asked me to be here today to remember the day when the United States of America joined 32 other nations to support the creation of the State of Israel and to express our appreciation for all who support the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel to this day.
The horrors of the Holocaust reminded the world that the safety and freedom of the Jewish people could not be secured without an independent Jewish state — sovereign, free, and capable of defending itself, by itself.
So in May 1947, less than two years after its inception, the United Nations formed the Special Commission on Palestine to propose paths forward for that region.
The United States of America was proud to support Resolution 181. We were proud to be the first nation in the world to recognize Israel's independence soon after. And we were proud to stand by Israel and the Jewish people ever since.
America stands with Israel because her cause is our cause, her values are our values, and her fight is our fight. We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, good over evil, freedom over tyranny.
On my visit to Israel next month, it will be my great honor to address the members of the Knesset, to walk on the hallowed ground of that holy city that King David built more than 3,000 years ago, and to pay our respects and breathe a prayer at Yad Vashem.
More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy warned that the United Nations must never be allowed to become, in his words, a “forum for invective.” But today, sadly, with regard to Israel, too often it's become exactly that — a forum for invective in the form of anti-Semitism and hatred.
But with the leadership of our President and the efforts of our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, the days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over.
Within the Human Rights Council and across the United Nations, Ambassador Haley has advanced reforms to put an end to the blatant bias and discrimination that was too often the reality in the recent past at the UN.
President Trump has withdrawn the United States from one of the U.N.'s most anti-Israel bodies — UNESCO.
And while, for the past 20 years, Congress and successive administrations have expressed a willingness to move our embassy, as we speak, President Donald Trump is actively considering when and how to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
And as the President has made clear, our administration is also committed to finally bringing peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As President Trump has said, in his words, “We want Israel to have peace.” And in the recent months, we've made valuable progress toward achieving that noble goal.
As he has said, in his words, 'The longer we ignore the threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes.' That's why President Trump announced that we will not certify the Iran nuclear deal, and we will no longer As we speak, our administration is working closely with leaders in Congress to craft legislation that will overcome the Iran nuclear deal's most glaring failures. And while this process is still underway, today I can assure you, under President Trump, the United States of America will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. This is our solemn promise to you, to Israel, and to the world.
Israel is an eternal testament to the unwavering fortitude of her people, to the unfathomable power of human freedom, and to the unending grace of God. And so today, we still trust in that promise. A promise in words heard millennia ago that I believe are true for her people and true for our people today as much as they were when they were first recorded, “For I know the plans I have for you,” He spoke, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.”
70 years ago, in this very hall, we recognized that the future of the Jewish people lay in a state they could call their own. And today with faith in that future and in that hope, we recommit ourselves to stand with Israel to pursue a brighter future for both our peoples, our nations, and for the world.
And with the friendship and courage of our citizens, with the commitment of our leaders, and with the guidance of Providence, I say with confidence, the United States and Israel will meet that bright future together.