This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Jews of a certain age grew up with stories of how their parents crowded around a radio waiting for word from Lake Success. That is the village on Long Island where, on November 29, 1947, the 2nd General Assembly of the United Nations was meeting to decide whether to partition Palestine. When news crackled over the airwaves that the vote was for partition, jubilation erupted among Jews the world over, for it presaged the creation of a Jewish state. The State of Israel was declared half a year later, in May 1948. We can’t help wondering how a future generation of Palestinian Arabs is going to look back on the United Nations gathering this week at New York.
Call it Lake Failure — and what a bitter sea it is. This was reflected in the crabbed remarks of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. After delivering his request for the recognition of a Palestinian Arab state, he treated the world to yet another speech of rejection of Israel. He’d already, at a meeting Friday of 200 representatives of the Palestinian Arab community in America, made it clear that the Palestinian Arabs would never recognize a Jewish state. “They talk to us about the Jewish state, but I respond to them with a final answer: We shall not recognize a Jewish state,” Mr. Abbas was quoted by ynetnews.com as telling the meeting.
What a contrast to the warmth, the outreach of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address from the same podium, where he proposed that the two leaders meet right there, that day, in that building, to start direct negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu has an advantage over Mr. Abbas, of course, which is that he was elevated to his high office by a democratic mandate. In extending his hand to Mr. Abbas and calling for a meeting that day, he said at one point, “Who’s there to stop us?” Certainly the answer must be the nihilists who lurk among the Palestinian Arabs.
The bitter truth is that the burden rests with no on but the Palestinian Arabs themselves and their want of a democratic leadership. Palestine was not the only issue before the General Assembly a generation ago, a point that was marked by The New York Sun in its editorial at the time. But it was clearly the most newsworthy. “Whether the Arab leaders who angrily stalked from the Assembly chamber when the vote was announced can persuade their people that they have a grievance which only open warfare can settle is something that only time can tell,” the Sun wrote. The news from Lake Failure is that they are not done trying.