WelCom March 2023
Last month’s WelCom featured an article by David McLoughlin, entitled ‘Bethlehem University: an oasis of peace’, about Br Peter Bray’s recent national tour of New Zealand on behalf of the Catholic bishops. Brother Peter was speaking about issues in Palestine today. David Zwartz ONZM, a member of the New Zealand Jewish Council and a founding member of the Wellington Interfaith Council, has written the following response.
There are important historical facts omitted from David McLoughlin’s article ‘Bethlehem University: an oasis of peace’ in February’s WelCom, which I would like your readers to be made aware of.
Mr McLoughlin writes of ‘the United Nations drafting a scheme to divide the region [the British Palestine Mandate] between a Jewish Israel and an Arab Palestine.’
This scheme was put to the UN General Assembly as Resolution 181 and passed on 29 November 1947. The Jews accepted the Partition Plan; it was rejected by the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, the Arab League and other Arab leaders and governments.
On 14 May 1948, the day before the British withdrew, the State of Israel was declared. Had the Arabs accepted UNGA 181, they could have declared the State of Palestine as they were fully entitled to, in the same way and at the same time as the Jews declared independent Israel. This Arab rejection of the UN Partition Plan is withheld from WelCom readers.
As Mr McLoughlin writes, ‘Israel was established in 1948, and after wars then, and in 1967 and 1973, the Palestinians lost most of their own lands.’ The important historical fact omitted in this sentence is that these wars were instigated by the Arabs. On 15 May 1948, now observed by the Palestinians as Nakba Day, five Arab armies (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Trans-Jordan and Egypt) attacked new-born Israel. The Arabs lost that war and all the subsequent wars.
Nakba was indeed (as it name means) a disaster and catastrophe for the Palestinian people, caused by their leaders rejecting statehood alongside the State of Israel in 1948, and also since then by both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.