The United Nations on November 29, 1947, voted to establish a Jewish State in part of Eretz Yisrael. The United Nations General Assembly voted 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, in favor of the Partition Plan, which created the Jewish State. Amazingly, both belligerents in the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union, supported the resolution. Passing of the resolution required a two-thirds majority of valid votes (i.e. not counting abstaining and absent members).
In the days prior to the final vote, when countries indicated their voting intentions, it was evident that the required majority was not available. Diplomatic efforts, which continued until the moments immediately before the vote, focused on changing the minds of many of the negative United Nations member states. In the end, the two-thirds majority was attained.
Abba Eban notes (in his documentary “Israel: A Nation Is Born”) that the United Nations partition vote was of profound significance for the Jewish People. He asserts that had the UN declined to establish a Jewish State at that point, it would have been extremely unlikely for a Jewish State to be established in the future. A negative vote would have proven catastrophic for the Jews.
Believing Jews argue that this vote was a result of divine intervention. They argue that without a miracle, the United Nations, renowned for its fierce and consistent hostility to Israel, never would have voted to establish a Jewish State in any part of the Holy Land.
Rav Eliezer Waldenberg (Teshuvot Tzitz Eli’ezer 7:48:12) writes that God “placed in the hearts of the United Nations, like Koresh (Cyrus) in his time, to restore to us a portion of our land which was stolen from us.”
Some challenge this view, arguing that devoted and intelligent lobbying by Zionist activists brought about this surprising result.
While it is indisputable that the Zionist effort to secure this vote was effective and indispensable, we argue that it is eminently reasonable to maintain that the UN would never have voted to establish a Jewish State if not for divine intervention. We seek to demonstrate that the UN vote is similar to the foiling of Haman’s genocidal plan against the Jewish People. Just as Esther’s strategy and its execution represented political genius but would have been insufficient without God’s intervention, the same may be said about the UN vote to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.
The Miraculous UN Vote – Paul Johnson and Rav Soloveitchik
The renowned British historian Paul Johnson wrote (Commentary, May 1998) of the Jewish State: “In the last half-century, over 100 completely new independent states have come into existence. Israel is the only one whose creation can fairly be called a miracle.”
Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik writes in his classic essay Kol Dodi Dofeik that “No one can deny that from the standpoint of international relations, the establishment of the State of Israel, in a political sense, was an almost supernatural occurrence.” The Rav continues:
“Both Russia and the Western countries jointly supported the idea of the establishment of the [Jewish] State. This was perhaps the only proposal where east and west were united. I am inclined to believe that the entire United Nations organization was created specifically for this purpose – in order to carry out the mission which the divine providence had set for it. It seems to me that one cannot point to any other concrete achievement on the part of the U.N. Our sages, of blessed memory, already expressed the view that at times, “rain” descends for a single person, or for a single blade of grass. I do not know whom the journalists, with their eyes of flesh and blood, saw sitting in the chairman’s seat during that fateful session when the General Assembly decided in favor of the establishment of the state. However, someone at the time who observed matters with his spiritual eye could have sensed the presence of the true chairman Who presided over the session, i.e. the Beloved (Hashem)! It was He who knocked with His gavel on the podium. Do we not interpret the verse “That night sleep from the king fled” (Esther 6:1) as referring to the sleep of the King of the Universe (Megillah 15b). Were it Ahaseuras alone who could not sleep, it would have been of no consequence, and the salvation of Israel would not have blossomed forth on that night. However, if it is the King of the Universe Who, as it were, does not slumber then the redemption will be born. If it had been John Doe who called the session of the United Nations to order, then the State of Israel would not have come into being – but if the Beloved knocked on the chairman’s podium, then the miracle occurred.”
In our prior issue we identified, based on Megillat Esther, three “fingerprints” of Hashem’s subtle manipulation of events on our behalf. These are incredible timing, our enemies acting in a foolish manner, and events happening against all expectations that defy normal probability. We can identify each of these divine “fingerprints” regarding the 1947 United Nations vote to establish a Jewish State.
Historian Paul Johnson writes (ad. loc) that incredible timing was involved in this momentous UN vote:
“Another paradoxical aspect of the Zionist miracle, which we certainly did not grasp at the time and which is insufficiently understood even now, is that among the founding fathers of Israel was Joseph Stalin. Stalin had no love for Jews; quite the contrary, he murdered them whenever it suited his purposes. In his last phase, indeed, he was becoming increasingly paranoid; had he lived, he might well have carried out an extermination program rivaling Hitler's. Moreover, like Lenin before him, Stalin had always opposed Zionism. He did so not only as a Great Russian imperialist but as a Marxist, and he was consistent on the matter up to the end of World War II and again from 1950 to his death in 1953. But during the crucial years 1947-48, he was guided by temporary considerations of Realpolitik, and specifically by what he saw as the threat of British imperialism.
Stalin ignorantly supposed that the way to undermine Britain's position in the Middle East was to support the Jews, not the Arabs, and he backed Zionism in order to break the "British stranglehold." Not only did he extend diplomatic recognition to Israel but, in order to intensify the fighting and the consequent chaos, he instructed the Czech government to sell it arms. The Czechs turned over an entire military airfield to shuttle weaponry to Tel Aviv; the Messerschmitt aircraft they supplied were of particular importance. Then, in mid-August 1948, Stalin decided he had made a huge error in judgment, and the obedient Czech government ordered a halt to the airlift within 48 hours. But by then the war had effectively been won.
The fledgling Israeli state was equally fortunate when it came to America, benefiting from a phase of benevolence that once again might not have lasted. President Truman was pro-Zionist, and he needed the Jewish vote in the 1948 election. It was his decision to push the partition scheme through the UN in November 1947 and to recognize the new Israeli state (de facto, not de jure) when it was declared in May 1948. But the contrary pressure he had to face, both from the State Department under George C. Marshall and from his Defense Secretary, James V. Forrestal, was immense. If the crisis had come a year later, after the cold war started to dominate the thinking of the West to the exclusion of almost everything else, it is likely that the anti-Zionist forces would have proved too strong for Truman. As it was, American backing for Israel in 1947-48 was the last idealistic luxury the Americans permitted themselves before the realities of global confrontation descended.
Thus, in terms both of Soviet and of American policy, Israel slipped into existence through a window that briefly opened, and just as suddenly closed. Once again, timing—or, if one likes, providence—was of the essence.”
Soviet and American support for the establishment of a Jewish State impacted other countries’ votes as well. The five East European communist bloc, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Byelorussian SSR, and the Soviet Union all voted for a Jewish State. Were it not for Soviet influence, it is unlikely in the extreme that Poland and Ukraine, with their long and deep history of anti-Semitism, would have voted for the establishment of Israel. Benny Morris (“1948” pg. 60-61) notes the direct impact the United States had on the aye votes from Haiti, the Philippines and many Latin American countries which otherwise planned to vote against the establishing a Jewish State.
One is not, as Paul Johnson assumes, required to choose between timing and providence. As we noted, providence expresses itself through incredible timing. The fact that the UN Palestine Partition vote came to the fore during the “window that briefly was opened” in 1947-1948, both in terms of American and Soviet culture, makes God’s involvement in the 1947 readily apparent to any thinking and informed Jew.
One last point of critical timing was involved in the UN vote. In May 1947, the UN formed a Special Committee (UNSCOP) to prepare a report on recommendations for Palestine. In July 1947, the UNSCOP committee arrived in Eretz Yisrael as part of its international investigation. On July 12, 1947, the Haganah-owned ship “Exodus 1947” set sail to Palestine. Benny Morris (ad. loc pg. 43) writes “The Haganah-Mossad dispatched the Exodus in mid-July for tactical and operational reasons, not out of a political desire to splice the journey with the work of UNSCOP.” Zionist leaders brought the UNSCOP members to witness British treatment of the Jewish immigrants from the post-World War Two Displaced Person’s Camps. Morris (pg. 44) notes the huge impact seeing this dramatic moment had upon the UNSCOP members, with the Yugoslav leader of his mission remarking “It is the best possible evidence [of the need for a Jewish state] we have.”
Next week, we will discuss our enemies’ foolish mistakes and how Hashem’s miracles brought about the creation of the State of Israel.
 Ezra 1:1 records that it was Hashem who motivated Cyrus to permit the Jews to return to Eretz Yisrael and rebuild the second Beit HaMikdash. .
 A video of eyewitnesses describing the Jewish efforts and success in obtaining the required votes is available at www.toldotyisrael.com.
 This was described at length in the prior issue.
 In regard to the UN Partition Vote, Benny Morris (1948, pages 40-41) writes the following: “Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko speech of May 14, 1947, at the United Nations General Assembly supporting the establishment of a Jewish State stunned Western and Zionist observers. Hitherto, Soviet policy on Palestine had been anti-British and pro-Arab…Moscow had announced a pro-Zionist tack – and sent UNSCOP off to the Middle East with a clear message.”
 We elsewhere describe the evolution of Harry Truman from an anti-Semite to a leading supporter of a Jewish State. In his “A History of the Jews” (page 524) Paul Johnson notes what he regards as the possibly providential death of President Roosevelt, who turned anti-Zionist towards the end of his life, on the heels of his conference with Saudi Arabian King Ibn Saud. Johnson quotes presidential assistant David Niles who asserted “There are serious doubts in my mind that Israel would have come into being if Rooselvelt had lived.”
 Marshall was one of the most eminent Secretary of States in United States history. This Noble Peace Prize laureate served as the United States Army Chief of Staff during World War Two and as the chief military adviser to President Roosevelt. Marshall famously told President Truman in May 1948, "If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you." Truman’s spurning Marshall’s highly intense opposition to American support for the founding of Israel is nothing less than astounding.
 Benny Morris’s 1948, published by Yale University Press, is regarded as the definitive work on the political and military creation of the State of Israel. Chapter two of this work presents a detailed and extensive account of the United Nations decision to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab States.
 This is readily apparent from Megillat Esther. Melachim II 8:1-6 presents a stunning example of Hashgachah Peratit (Hashem’s involvement) subtlety expressing through incredible timing.