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Video: Eyewitness Accounts of 1947 UN Vote for Israel

Israel worked to the last minute to win UN recognition in 1947. One delegate who promised to vote for Israel was pulled out of the men’s room.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/10/2011, 5:48 PM

Israel worked to the last minute to win United Nations recognition in the historic vote on November 29, 1947. One eyewitness said that one delegate who promised to vote for Israel was pulled out of the men’s room.

Suzy Eban, wife of Abba Eban, who then was a liaison officer to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, related on a new Toldot Yisrael video how Israelis worked to gain the needed two-thirds majority for United Nations recognition as a state.

Realizing it lacked three votes, Israeli delegates focused on Haiti, Liberia and the Philippines. Suzy Eban revealed that at one point, an Israel delegate went to the men’s room. One South American country, whose name she did not reveal, had promised to vote for Israel.

She explained, “The Israeli delegate noticed his shoes under the door in the men’s room and said, ‘You promised to vote. They are voting now, I am here to bring you to the voting,’” which he did.

“It was touch and go all the time until you got everything lined up,” she added. Israeli representatives sent a Protestant minister, who favored a homeland for Jews, to Haiti to gain its support.

The final vote on that historic Saturday night was 33-13, with 10 abstentions.

“I remember the excitement,” she said. “This was our life.” In the car on the return to Manhattan from the United Nations building, then located at Lake Success, New York, “No one said a word. It was overpowering.”

In Israel, David Ben-Gurion addressed a huge throng and said, “Long live the Hebrew state,” which at that time still did not have a name, and everyone responded by singing HaTikvah, the national anthem.

Yehuda Avner, a British student in Jerusalem in 1947, said, “For these 20 centuries, we Jews had always been the object of history. We were always the object of history, that is an object where others make the decisions for us.

“As of that date onwards, we suddenly became again the subject of history. where we make the decisions for ourselves,” a value that Israel still is struggling to fulfill today.