return to Home page UNITED NATIONS RESOLUTION 181  
November 29, 1947


Seventy years ago an historic event took place: the United Nations resolution 181 that partitioned the British Mandate into Jewish and Palestinian sections. Clevelanders took special joy in that vote. Our own Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver had led the mobilization of U S support for a State of Israel and the fight for resolution 181.

Like most Zionist leaders Silver shared the dream of a unified Israel and opposed partition. When it appeared that such a goal would not succeed, with so many Jews trapped in displaced persons camps, unwilling to return to their former homes, and other nations, including ours, slow to accept them, he and the Zionist leadership supported partition as their only hope. A 2/3 vote was needed for passage and the vote was taken on the last day of the General Assembly.

The next day's Cleveland Jewish News, which is a strong supporter of Israel, made no mention of this anniversary, nor did the websites of Forward and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

On December 1, 2017, leading a small team of "History Haverim"  I created a long-planned Facebook group Jewish History Hub. My first post, two days later (shown below) was about the 70th anniversary of Resolution 181.

As I finish this page at 9 am the radio reports our president's decision to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Resolution 181 did not include Jerusalem in Israel or Palestine. It was to be a corpus separatum (Latin: “separate entity”).

Arnie Berger  editor   December 6, 2017


Cleveland's Coverage of the Event

Plain Dealer

The resolution passed Saturday afternoon, November 29, 1947  Below: the front page of the Plain Dealer of Sunday November 30, 1947.  From the Plain Dealer online archives


Jewish Independent

Below: As the the Jewish Independent  published only on Friday, the event was announced on Friday December 6, 1947, at the top of the front page. Source: the Archives Cleveland Jewish News

Below: Where Resolution 181 was passed
The United Nations General Assembly,
at Lake Success on Long Island

 Below: Map of 1947 partition plan (from Wikipedia)

Learn more

Read the resolution on the United Nations website

Read our pages on Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver

The Partition Plan in the Jewish Virtual Library

The Partition Plan in Wikipedia

Videos on YouTube

Two steps in the passing of Resolution 181 have been captured on video.

First is the appearance of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver at a meeting of the U N Special Committee on Palestine. It is in a committee room, with people coming and going. Silver is seated, reading his presentation. View a short clip of this presentation. After much other testimony, this committee approved its recommendation, to be discussed and voted on at the General Assembly.

Second is the vote of the General Assembly a few days later, Saturday ,November 29, the last day of the U N session. It took place in an enormous auditorium (see image above). Speakers stood on the platform at the front of the auditorium and spoke into a microphone, in part to support concurrent translation to many languages. The vote was close, 30-13, barely exceeding the required two-thirds majority.

For dramatic effect many videos move back and forth between the General Assembly vote and the committee hearing that preceded it by days. Some videos include scenes of persons in Jerusalem listening to the vote and then rejoicing in the streets.

Older Clevelanders, awed (as I was) by Silver speaking on any podium may remember him addressing the U N and convincing delegates to vote for a Jewish State. The true story is much more complex and dramatic. It was years of organizing and persuading, the horror of the Holocaust and the plight of displaced persons that led to the passing of Resolution 181. Silver's great contributions were the behind the scene organizing, stirring the Republican party to support a Jewish state, and, possibly last, his eloquence.

Other websites

There is much on the internet related to Resolution 181. You will find websites that call Israel Independence day in 1948 the Naqba (Arabic for "catastrophe"), those that view Resolution 181 as a great moment in Jewish history, and some that continue to hope for a unified Israel, with no Palestinian state. Open pages such as Wikipedia (including the Abba Hillel Silver page I have contributed to) see changes from time to time by persons of varying views on Jewish statehood and the sad conditions of Palestinians.


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