The 61st anniversary of the passing of UN resolution 181, which proposed the partitioning of Palestine west of the Jordan into an Jewish and an Arab state, has sparked the now predictable anti-Israel hatefest at the New York UN general assembly. Israel's UN ambassador delivered a robust rejoinder, making the all-too-rarely heard point that Jewish refugees fled Arab states and were integrated in Israel, while Arab refugees were left to fester in camps. But Ambassador Shalev gets her numbers wrong - more Jewish refugees fled Arab countries* than did Arab refugees flee Israel. The numbers who fled Israel and those resettled there were similar.(With thanks: Sacha G.)
"Those were the words at Lake Success on November 29, 1947 that announced the United Nations General Assembly adoption of resolution 181. Those were the words that conferred international legitimacy on the creation of two states for two peoples.
"33 for. 13 against. 10 abstentions. The resolution was approved.
"The Jewish population in then-British-Mandate Palestine accepted this historic resolution. It reflected the Zionist conviction that it was both necessary and possible to live in peace with our neighbors in the land of our forefathers.
"Yet the Arab side within the mandate territory and across the region instantly rejected resolution 181. And Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon - members of the United Nations - launched a war of annihilation against Israel together with Jordan and the Arabs of Palestine.
"As a result of this rejection and this war, many Palestinian Arabs became refugees, while a similar number of Jews, who lived in Arab countries, were forced to flee their homes and they, too, became refugees. They all - Jews and Arabs - lived in refugee camps, torn away from their homes.
"The difference between the two distinct refugee populations was - and still is - that Israel has done its utmost to redeem these Jewish refugees from their misery and to absorb them successfully in Israel, whereas the belligerent Arab States did not lift a finger to redeem their brethren. To wage war - yes, by all means. To help in redeeming and resettling, let alone absorbing their brethren, is another matter altogether.
"Today, the Arabs' historic mistake of rejecting resolution 181 is also measured in lives lost in war, parents who bury their children, and pain that has touched us all - Israelis and Arabs.
* The figures usually quoted are 850,000 Jews fleeing Arab countries, with some 600,000 resettling in Israel. Estimates of Palestinian Arab refugees vary from 450,000 to 700,000.