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The Fame and Infamy of November 29th

on Friday, November 30 2012. Posted by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg
There is only one street that I know of named for a date on the calendar.  Rechov Chaf Tet B’November, November 29th Street, runs through the Katamon neighborhood of Yerushalayim.   Why would a street in our Holy City be named for a date on the Gregorian calendar?

Just a short time after the darkest period in Jewish History and the annihilation of 6 million Jews, on that fateful date, the first light of redemption broke through.  On November 29, 1947 the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution, which adopted the plan for the partition of Palestine and restored Jewish sovereignty to at least a portion of the Land of Israel.   Thirty-three states voted in favor of the resolution, thirteen voted against it and ten states abstained.

If you wonder for even a moment if we live in miraculous times and if we are experiencing the flowering of redemption, I challenge you to consider the following:  If the United Nations were to take that vote today, just 65 years later, is there even a possibility that it would pass?   In our wildest dreams could we picture today’s UN awarding the Jewish people a state in the Middle East?  

Yes indeed, November 29, 1947 is a miraculous day on the Jewish calendar in which the international community went against their ordinary behavior and attitude of hatred, anti Semitism, persecution and passed an extraordinary resolution that would usher in a new era for our people.

To understand just how extraordinary the vote that day was, contrast it with a vote that took place on the very same date, November 29th of this year.  This week, the United Nations passed a resolution declaring Palestine a non-member observer state.  Prior to the vote, Israel and the United States publicly condemned the initiative and placed immense pressure on President Mahmoud Abbas not to pursue that path.   Members of Congress suggested that if the Palestinians violate the will of the US on this issue, they and the UN should lose US funding.   

Pursuing recognition of statehood at the United Nations while circumventing direct negotiations is a direct violation of international agreements including the Oslo Accords.   The move constitutes a direct rebuff to President Obama’s personal request to return to direct negotiations and abandon the pursuit of this vote.  Moreover, Abbas asked for recognition of a state, half of which he doesn’t control or influence.  Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2006 and Abbas hasn’t even visited once since then.  Declaring Gaza a state gives credibility and authority to a terrorist group who just a few days ago shot over 1,000 rockets at Israel.

The arguments against voting for this resolution are obvious, compelling and overwhelming.  Yet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 138 states voted in favor of the measure, only nine against and 41 abstained.   Once again the United Nations proved that their interest is not to bring peace to the region as much as it is to see the State of Israel in pieces.  

The Secretary of State, US Ambassador to the UN and members of Congress were quick to point out that this vote represents a step away from peace and hurts the ability to make progress towards that goal.   I would go even further and suggest that pursuing this path resurrects ideology and strategy of the past that proved utterly unsuccessful and caused great damage, destruction and loss of life.   

Indeed, the founder of Fatah, former leader of the PLO and orchestrator of terrorism against Israel, Yasser Arafat, was himself literally dug up, just this week.  Arafat’s body was exhumed to examine the cause of his death.  His wife, Suha Arafat had this to say:   “It was as if his soul was resurrecting.  It’s as if he was saying, `I am still alive and with you,’” she told the Associated Press before the UN vote.

Perhaps the most painful part of this week’s vote was the recognition of just how alone and isolated Israel is in the international community.  It is as if 65 years ago, the world felt bad for the Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust and awarded us our homeland as a global apology for standing by while we were slaughtered.  In 65 short years, sympathy has turned to enmity and the Jewish people are right back were we have been for a large part of our history.  

Bilam already described us so many years ago – “Hein am levadad yishkon, u’vagoyim lo yischashav, they are a people that will dwell alone, and they will not be considered among the nations.”   The realization of his prophecy and feelings of loneliness and isolation are painful and hurtful, but we will persevere.

We read this week of how Yaakov wrestled with the Angel of Esav.  Though he ultimately triumphed, he didn’t walk away unscathed.  Yaakov received a blow to his hip that injured his sciatic nerve.  As a result we refrain from eating the Gid Ha’Nasheh, the sciatic nerve until today.  The Sefer Ha’Chinuch describes Yaakov’s experience as being forbearing of the Jewish journey.  Like Yaakov, the Jewish People have confronted many enemies.  Like Yaakov, we too sustain injuries, blows, and wounds.  But the pasuk describes, “vayizrach lo ha’shemesh, the next morning the sun rose for him.”  Like Yaakov, we have limped through our history, but our sun will rise as well and we will experience a redemptive era.

The UN vote of November 29, 2012 can now be added to the long list of blows our people have sustained.  We have been triumphant and proudly walked away from the others albeit sometimes with a limp, and we will walk forward triumphantly from this one as well. 

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