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Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The right of return

With the Annapolis conference underway, articles in the corporate media (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post) make the briefest of references to the "right of return" as a "sticking point," but omit any historical context which might help a reader understand what was really behind this issue. Richard Becker at PSLweb makes up for the deficiency in an important article.

Here's one thing I learned, which isn't specifically on the question of the right of return, but on the point of the U.N. partition itself. It's a point whose significance won't be lost on those who have observed more recent attempts by the U.S. to bully and bribe the U.N. to do its bidding, be it on the subject of the invasion of Iraq (where they actually failed to bully and bribe sufficient votes) or sanctions against Iran (where they succeeded):

The two-thirds majority required to pass Resolution 181 [the partition resolution] was only achieved through intense U.S. pressure. The vote ended up 33 to 13 with 10 abstentions. The Truman administration leaned heavily on its neocolonies and client states, particularly the Philippines, Liberia, Haiti and Thailand, all of which initially opposed the resolution.

Without those four votes, the resolution would have failed. For narrow and short-term interests, the Soviet Union voted for the resolution. This represented a betrayal of the Arab anti-colonial struggle and one that did great harm to the socialist cause in the region. Later, the Soviet Union would become a major ally of the Arab national liberation movement.
As an aside, this kind of thing is just one of several reasons why the U.S. government is so adamantly opposed, to the point of blockades and invasions, to countries with independent foreign policies, be they socialist countries like Cuba, semi-socialist countries like Iraq under Saddam, or capitalist countries like Iran (and many others). Because having countries, however "insignificant" on the scale of world power, speaking out (or even - gasp - voting!) against U.S. actions is one of those "inconvenient" things that can't be tolerated.

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