Today, November 29, is one of those dates on the calendar commemorating an event that literally changed the history of the world. For it was on this date in 1947 that the United Nations formally adopted Resolution 181 which called for the creation of an Arab and an Israeli state in what had been formerly called Palestine. Resolution 181 also called for the city of Jerusalem to become an internationally controlled city. Thirty-three nations within the United Nations General Assembly voted for the partition of Palestine, thirteen nations - mainly Arab states - voted against the partition plan, ten nations abstained from voting, including Great Britain who had controlled Palestine since the end of World War I, and there was one nation not present at the time of the vote. Moshe Dayan, who would become a leader within the IDF during its infancy, wrote: "We were happy that night, and we danced...we dance - but we knew that ahead of us lay the battlefield."
This was a vote that divided the Middle East, a division that persists until this day. Neither the Jewish leadership, under David Ben-Gurion, nor the Arab leadership, under Haj Amin el Husseini, were excited about the UN partition plan. Immediately the Arab League announced that it would not support the partition plan, while the Jewish leadership announced that it would accept the partition plan. Now, friends, when one looks at the UN Partition Map, it was hardly a fair partition - especially if you were a Jew. Yet, a small-fractured state was better than no state at all. So, David Ben-Gurion and the Jewish leadership began to make plans for statehood.
The British were just glad to see the end of a difficult time overseeing their British Mandate. The years preceding the UN vote and now after the vote had occurred would be a deadly time for the British army. And it was a deadly time for Arabs and Jews as animosities built between the two groups. Of concern for the Jews was the survival of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Everyone knew that war was inevitable as soon as the British left which was to occur at midnight on May 14, 1948.
Both sides began to prepare for war. The Jewish community did not have an organized military - for that creation had been banned under the British Mandate. There were a few militias basically created for security of Jewish communities scattered throughout Palestine. Israel had no air force because it had no airplanes. And, because of the Mandate, the Jews could not legally purchase military equipment - although there are some amazing stories of planes being purchased in Czechoslovakia and in America. Planes were literally smuggled parts at a time and then reassembled on secret airfields within Palestine.
The Mandate set a limit on the number of Jewish refugees - many coming out of the concentration and death camps of Europe - who could immigrate into Palestine. Many were secretly smuggled aboard small vessels that penetrated the British blockade. As soon as their feet touched the shoreline, they were recruited into the army.
And, the ink was hardly dry on the documents affirming Israel's creation and independence, when war was declared on May 14, 1948. It was a war filled with many miracles. If you would like to read more about this era of history, I highly recommend the book titled O Jerusalem!, written by Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre. This is a book that I recommend to those who travel with me to Israel as it will help them to understand some of the psychological dynamics that still persist within Israel today.
Many Bible scholars believe that this UN Resolution 181 - passed on this date in 1947 - and the date of the birth of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 are important prophetically. We know from passage after passage within the prophetic writings that God said that He would gather His people Israel once again into the land He had given to their forefathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Until this November 29th resolution, it seemed those prophecies were yet distant. But, with the UN vote that day, those prophecies took on a whole new meaning. Could it be possible that this was what the Lord had said would happen? Would it be possible that, after nearly 1900 years, the Jews would once again have a nation to call their own?
In Matthew 24:34, part of what we know as The Olivet Discourse where Jesus is describing events that will happen at the end of the age, Jesus says: "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." Could we be living in that generation that will not pass away until all these things have been accomplished? I was 9-months old when UN Resolution 181 was passed, and 15-months old when the State of Israel was created. If, as some believe a biblical generation is 70-80 years, based upon Psalm 90:10, then I am part of that generation. Now I am not saying that we have up to ten years before the return of Jesus, but it is exciting to think about it. Perhaps this will be the Advent Season when Jesus returns again! How exciting would that be!
November 29, 1947 - an important date for all of us to remember.