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The Assembly nevertheless adopted Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. This resolution did not partition Palestine. It was merely a recommendation, which was all the General Assembly was authorized to do under the Charter. It had no legal authority to partition Palestine, and it didn’t purport to. It referred the matter to the Security Council, where it died. The Council rejected the plan because the only way to implement it would be through the use of force against the will of the majority of the population. The U.S. delegate, Warren Austin, eloquently pointed out that such a use of force would be contrary to the principles of the very Charter under which they operated.
Israel was not created by U.N. fiat in 1947. It was created on May 14, 1948 when the Zionist leadership under Ben-Gurion unilaterally declared its existence, without defining its borders. It is important to stress that Jews at that time owned only 7% of the land of Palestine, and that Resolution 181 neither partitioned Palestine nor conferred upon the Zionist leadership any legal authority for its unilateral declaration.
In the conflict that ensued, more than 750,000 Arabs were ethnically cleansed from Palestine. The right of return is an internationally recognized legal right guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, recognized explicitly in the case of Palestinian refugees first in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948.
Which brings us back to Gingrich’s remarks. When he speaks of the “commitments that were made at the time”, he is referring the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate and the fiction that the latter constituted some kind of legal basis for the establishment of the state of Israel, which falsehood rests further upon the racist and colonialist assumption that the nations of the West somehow had the authority to take land away from the Arabs and give it to the Jews.
When he says that Palestinians “had a chance to go many places” and explicitly rejects their right of return, what he is saying is that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was a legitimate action, and that Palestinians—who apparently must have no special affinity for their birthplace or the land of their ancestors—should just accept its legitimacy.
When he says the U.S. has “sustained” a “war against Israel”, what he means is that the U.S. doesn’t recognize the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of Israel. Gingrich was joined in this sentiment onstage at the debate by fellow Zionist Rick Santorum, who said, “The Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land, and all of Israel, including the, quote, ‘West Bank’, is Israeli land.”
The truth is that all of the West Bank—including East Jerusalem—and Gaza are “occupied Palestinian territories”, to quote from the judgment of the International Court of Justice. Israel’s annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem has been rejected by the international community as “illegal”, “null and void” in numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions, including 252, 267, 271, 298, 446, 452, 465, 471, 476, 478, 592, 605, 607, 636, 694, 726, and 799. Similarly, all of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank “have been established in breach of international law”, to quote again from the ICJ ruling. And whatever “history” and “truth” Zionists like Gingrich and Santorum would have Americans believe, the fact that all of the West Bank and Gaza are Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories under international law is completely uncontroversial.
As for Palestinian militant groups firing rockets into Israel from Gaza, Gingrich is absolutely right to condemn such violence, indiscriminate in nature and thus a war crime under international law. But what Gingrich hypocritically neglected to mention was the fact that Israel is responsible for the vast preponderance of the violence and murdering of civilians, which it carries out with full U.S. support.
Israel’s massacre in Gaza from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”, for instance, was a U.S.-backed full-scale military assault on the civilian population perpetrated with U.S.-supplied arms, including F-16s and Apache helicopters. The U.S. took its complicity in Israel’s war crimes and other violations of international law in blocking the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, the most important of which was that the Security Council—where the U.S. exercises a veto—should refer the matter to the ICJ.
It should also be noted that this massacre followed a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that Israel violated, just as it had been Israel that violated numerous previous ceasefires.
Gingrich said President Obama is guilty of pressuring Israel into the so-called “peace process”. The truth is that this is the process by which the U.S. and Israel have sought to block implementation of the international consensus on a two-state solution, which envisions a full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-June 1967 armistice lines, with minor and mutually agreed revisions to the final border. The truth is that Obama has pressured the Palestinians to return to this “peace process”, and demanded that they do so “without preconditions”, which means while Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank continues. The Palestinian leadership ultimately rightfully rejected a return to the “peace process” and its rejectionist framework in favor of turning to the international community to recognize their legal rights and legitimate political aspirations. The transparent truth of the matter, to anyone who has eyes to see or ears to hear, is that the U.S. hasn’t been waging a war on Israel for many decades, as Gingrich would have Americans believe, but on Palestine.
And what about Gingrich’s comment that Hamas rejects Israel’s “right to exist” and wants to expel or exterminate all the Jews? It is true that Palestinians don’t recognize that Israel has a “right to exist”. And, of course, it doesn’t. No state does. This is an absurd formulation. The proper framework for discussion is the right to self-determination, and it is this right that is being denied not to the people of Israel, but to the Palestinians. The demand that Palestinians recognize Israel’s “right to exist” is a demand that they accept that the Zionist’s unilateral declaration of the existence of the Jewish state of Israel and ethnic cleansing of Palestine (required for the state to be demographically “Jewish”) were legitimate—as Gingrich clearly himself believes. Furthermore, the truth is that Hamas’s leadership has repeatedly and for many years reiterated its willingness to accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel on the ’67 borders.
And what about Gingrich’s comments about Palestinians teaching their children to hate Jews, that they learn math by subtracting numbers of Jews? Glenn Kessler touched on that in his Washington Post blog, The Fact Checker, in which he stated, “We cannot immediately find evidence of the statement claimed by Gingrich.” Kessler further cites the U.S.’s own State Department as observing that “International academics concluded the [Palestinian] textbooks did not incite violence against Jews, but showed imbalance, bias, and inaccuracy”, all of which certainly applies to school textbooks in the U.S., or in Israel, for that matter. Kessler also cited the Israeli daily Haaretz observing that Israel’s education system “is hardly better than the Palestinian one when it comes to inserting political messages in textbooks.”
But let us congratulate Mr. Gingrich for at least one true statement: This is indeed a propaganda war. And let us applaud his statement that it is about time for someone to have the courage to stand up and say, “Enough lying about the Middle East!” The lying certainly does need to stop, but Mr. Gingrich should begin with the plank in his own eye.