Why acting is important
The United Nations was established after the second World War in order to preserve peace and base relations between countries on law and not on power. The charter of the United Nations entered into force October 24, 1945 beginning with its mission in article 1:"to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace." It went on to affirm the importance of self-determination and that great powers should not determine the future of areas that came under their control after the war. Unfortunately, as we all know, this charter was repeatedly violated. What many don't know is the first major violation came with the General assembly recommendation on Partitioning Palestine despite the wishes of its inhabitants. The partition resolution of 1947 was the first instance in the young UN history where the people of the land being partitioned were not allowed self-determination.
The UN resolution on Partition of Palestine (UNGA 181) November 29, 1947 came after significant lobbying by Zionist, US, and other world leaders (Ilan Pappe. The Making of the Arab Israeli Conflict, p. 41-43). While it was illegitimate and contrary to the UN Charter, it is not correct to claim this resolution is irrelevant now, nor is it correct to claim that Zionists accepted partition and "Arabs" rejected it. The Palestinian leadership was destroyed by the British brutal suppression of the first uprising (1936-1939). Jordan's king Abdullah was in tacit agreement with the Zionists to take over the parts of Palestine allocated to a Palestinian state in return for accepting the Zionist state (see for example Avi Shlaim's book "Collusion across the Jordan," available from Amazon). And there was no reason to believe that the natives in Palestine (the vast majority) would accept a partition of their country with a settler-colonial system any more than such a partition would have been accepted by native Algerians (with French settlers) or native South Africans (with European settlers).
Zionist leaders only accepted the part of the UN partition resolution calling for an Israeli state in the already heavily populated area of Palestine. They rejected all other parts including the borders proposed, internationalization of Jerusalem, economic union, and most importantly the prohibition on removal of native people. Israel was established not by implementation of this resolution, which called for specific ways to implement it, but by force of arms and with the massive support of other colonial powers. In the process of establishing the State of Israel, its armies controlled 78% of the land and rendered 80% of Palestinians in that area refugees by a process that would be called today ethnic cleansing (see http://www.palestineremembered.com and http://al-awda.org).
Israel was admitted by the UN General Assembly only after it promised to accept implementation of all previous UNGA resolutions (including 181 and 194). However, Israel proceeded to disregard all relevant UN General assembly resolutions starting with these two resolutions and extending to over 100 other UNGA resolutions. Israel also violates over 70 UN security council resolutions. UNGA 181 states no removal of natives is allowed and sets the Galilee and large parts of what is now in the Green line as part of the Palestinian state. UNGA 194 calls for the return of Palestinian refugees and compensation to those "choosing not to return." Israel has yet to abide by these resolutions which have been reaffirmed by overwhelming majorities practically every year since. In Paragraph 11, resolution 194 reads:
"Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid or the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible"
But the Zionist movement ofcourse had another agenda. Ben-Gurion considered a Jewish State in part of Palestine as only a step in the fulfillment of larger ambitions. His vision was spelled out in a letter to his son, Amos:
"A partial Jewish State is not the end, but only the beginning ... We shall bring into the state all the Jews it is possible to bring ... We shall establish a multi-faceted Jewish economy - agricultural, industrial, and maritime. We shall organize a modern defense force, a select army ... and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in the other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means. Our ability to penetrate the country will increase if there is a state " (Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Gurion: A Biography, New York: Delacorte Press, 1977, pp. 91 – 92).
Indeed, history shows this to have been the case. UNGA 181 recommended establishment of two states (without any removal of inabitants). Israel would have 55% of the land (even though Jews controlled 7% of the land and many of them were opposed to partition and to the concepts of Zionism). Ethnic cleansing commenced in November 1947 (well before May 14, 1948 and the entry of the Arab armies). In fact according to Israeli historians half of the Palestinian refugees were removed between November 1947 and May 1948 (see http://www.al-awda.org/therefugeeprimer/ ). By 1949 Israel/Zionists controlled 78% of Palestine. In June 1967 Israel launched a war and acquired the remaining 22% and immediately started building settlements. In the process and as Meron Benvenisti articulated Israel made the occupation irreversible and rendrred the two-state solution obsolete. With 6 million of the 9 million native Palestinians refugees or displaced people and the rest either fourth class citizens or living in cantons with walls and trenches being built around them, the rest, as they say, is history. We are back to where we started in 1947.
Mahatma Ghandi, of India said this in 1938:
"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home." (This was published on 26 November 1938 in Harijan, Mohandas K. Gandhi's magazine. It can be found most readily on page 108 in Martin Buber's book, A Land of Two Peoples (editor Paul R. Mendes-Flohr) A Galaxy Book (GB756), Oxford University Press, New York ISBN 0-19-503426-0.)
Yet, we cannot advocate a Palestinian Arab state because we cannot undo history. The reality is, whether right or wrong, there is now a major presence in Palestine of an Israeli Jewish society, primarily European-Ashkenazi in culture, speaking a language of Hebrew. But, as the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber stated:
"We will have to face the reality that Israel is neither innocent, nor redemptive. And that in its creation, and expansion, we as Jews have caused what we historically have suffered; a refugee population in Diaspora."
And as many including Buber recognized must be done, begin to reverse the process and repatriate the Palestinians and create some element of justice and coexistence.
By contrast, fake "doves" in Israeli politics have no intention of ever dealing with core issues. The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot interviewing Israeli foreign Minister Shimon Peres (Oct. 5, 2001): Y.A.: "I was wondering, would (the Palestinian) dreams about Jaffa and Haifa suddenly disappear?" Peres: "On this issue I recommend to kill and annihilate."
The longest lasting and largest refugee population in the world cannot be simply swept under the carpet. The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Article 13 which Israel ratified states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own and return, to his country"
Israel declaration of Independence promised a constitution within months with equality for citizens. The Declaration also promises to abide by International law. Yet, 55 years later Israel has never had a constitution and has never declared its borders. Israel is now in violation of over 70 UN Security Council resolutions and countless UN General Assembly resolutions.
Human rights organizations documented clearly the violations of basic human rights that in some cases amount to war crimes. Certainly use of American supplied weapons is shown to be not for strictly defensive purposes and thus in violation of arms exports laws of the United States. The association of US weaponry and economic and diplomatic support for Israel also tarnishes the image of the US abroad and adds to the growing hostitility against the US throughout the world. The removal in 2001 of the US from the UN commission on Human Rights and the votes in the general assembly of the UN (generally 140 countries against the US and Israel) illustrate this destructive trend.
The Seville Statement on Violence was adopted by UNESCO at the 25th session of the UN general assembly on 16 November 1986. Drafted by eminent scientists, it lays out facts and debunks mythologies including myths that the human species which invented war cannot eliminate war. http://www.unesco.org/shs/human_rights/hrfv.htm This document lays out the scientific foundations for a world without war and injustice.
With regards to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, this conflict is neither too complicated nor unresolvable.