Jan. 10, 2018
It is deceptively easy to reduce the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict to a series of dates. The 50thanniversary of the June 1967 Six-Day War and the recent centennialof the Balfour Declaration occasioned considerable—if often flawed—media coverage and discussion by policymakers. Yet another—often-underreported—anniversary is perhaps more telling and highlights a long-running theme that was on full display after President Trump’s Dec. 6, 2017 speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital: Arab rejection of any Jewish state in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland.
Nov. 29, 2017 marked the 70thanniversary of Arab states rejecting U.N. Resolution 181. The non-binding recommendation advised the partition of Mandate Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The Zionist leadership in Mandate Palestine accepted the resolution. Arab nations, including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, denounced it and promised bloodshed if it were passed.
Threatening to shed Jewish blood a mere two years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust was hardly a winning strategy and Resolution 181passed, with support from the United States, the Soviet Union, and others.
Yet, by promising to defy the implementation of the partition plan by force, the Arab leaders voided its very terms, which noted that any “attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution” a “threat to the peace.” This hardly dissuaded the Arab states from unsuccessfully seeking to destroy the fledgling Jewish state in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence. In this conflict—and those that preceded it—a man named Amin al-Husseini assisted them.