The Year 2017 – Or “The year of Commemorations”
1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine
The concept of a Jewish homeland ran counter to new Arab nationalists. Despite British leaders thinking that Palestine was a small notch (it was only one percent of the total area given to the Arabs) and that the Arabs would have a far greater territory under their control, the Arabs soon became hostile to Jewish sovereignty. Increasing hostility between the two wars led to a hardening of attitudes on both sides and the British were stuck with an impossible situation.
The situation in Palestine deteriorated into civil war which Britain found difficult to control. Ernest Bevin, the new Labour Party foreign minister, was hostile to Zionism and opposed to Jewish immigration. It was his hard line decision, in flagrant rejection of any international obligations or humanitarian considerations, which finally caused an impasse in the administration of the Mandate. The Jews also had problems. They found it was extremely difficult to buy weapons because they were not an independent state in their own right. This considerably impeded their attempts to defend themselves.
The desperate fighting of Jewish resistance groups was met with increasingly relentless repression from Britain. Finally, the British Government referred the problem to the United Nations in April 1947. The commission sent by the UN to investigate the problem recommended the partition of Palestine and the establishment of two separate states. Jerusalem itself, that “burdensome stone for all people,” would not be included in either state, but would be administered by the United Nations.
UN Vote for Israel
On 29 November 1947, the UN voted for the adoption of the partition plan, which included the formation of the Jewish State. In this way, the nations “parted my land” (Joel 3:2). The area intended for Israel was small, with borders that would be difficult to secure in the midst of hostile neighbours, but finally, at least they had a place of their own. Under normal circumstances, considering the widespread anti-Jewish feeling, it would have been unlikely to get sufficient votes that favoured a Jewish state. However, amazingly, when the vote was taken, it was in the affirmative, 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions. It seems that the conscience of a guilty world had been touched, as the full horrors of genocide of an ancient and helpless people became known.
The Arabs immediately announced their refusal to accept the partition plan and promised to continue to fight. As a result of the UN vote, the struggle was intensified with Arab and Jewish fighters waging a bitter war in the streets of Jerusalem during the winter and spring of 1948.
After the UN vote, Britain announced it would terminate the Mandate and withdraw its forces by May 15, 1948. This left just five months to prepare for evacuation. The British now openly showed favour to the Arabs, repressing Jewish activities, but turning a blind eye to Arab attacks on Jewish settlements and the Jewish urban population. As a result, all the Jewish defensive groups joined together in a co-ordinated effort to protect themselves. The War of Independence began even before the British left the country.
The new Jewish army assumed the initiative and took the areas given to them via the UN plan, seizing Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee, Safed, Haifa and Jaffa on the coast, as well as many Arab villages. In Jerusalem, the situation became critical when Jewish inhabitants in the Old Jewish Quarter were cut off from contact with the New City outside the walls. A rough track had to be hewn through the hills north of Jerusalem to supply provisions to the starving Jewish population holed up in the city. Despite all attempts to retain the Jewish Quarter, it fell to the Jordanians after intense bombardment, just two weeks after the new State was proclaimed. The terms of the Armistice ensured Jewish access to the holy places both in the ancient city and other Jordanian areas, but this was subsequently ignored by Jordan.
The New State
While war raged, plans were afoot to inaugurate the Jewish State. The first postage stamps were printed, but because the name of the new country had not yet been decided, the stamps bore the words “Hebrew Post” in Hebrew, the ancient revived language. The day before the British left, a group of Jewish representatives, along with invited guests, gathered together late in the afternoon of 14th May 1948 in Tel Aviv to announce the New State. David Ben-Gurion, as Prime Minister, stood beneath the framed photograph of Theodore Herzl to proclaim the new State of Israel. “By virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people, and of the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, we hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called The State of Israel. Our call goes out to the Jewish people all over the world to rally to our side in the task of immigration and development and to stand by us in the great struggle for the fulfilment of the dream of generations for the redemption of Israel.” At this time, the Jewish population of Israel numbered about six hundred thousand.
 Zechariah 12:3
 In fact Jordan destroyed much of the Jewish section of the city, including the historic Hurva synagogue.
 Issued 17 May 1948
In this year of our Lord, 2017, there are a series of notable dates each which opens the way to the preparation for the Kingdom of God.
Sis Beulah Edwards
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