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The United Nations (U.N.) is a funny place. And I don't mean ha-ha funny.
On the one hand it is as close as one can get to a recognizable global government. Therefore it makes sense for the Palestinians to ask the UN to recognize their existence as a nation.
On the other hand, it has most of the attributes of a bad government, and few attributes of a good government. Given its history, that should not be a surprise. The UN was, and remains, a profoundly racist institution, dedicated to maintaining the system of imperialist domination of the industrial, mainly "white race" nations over all others.
The UN had as its predecessor the League of Nations. In American history books Woodrow Wilson is almost always portrayed as the progressive peace-lover who worked to create the League of Nations, to promote world peace, only to see the U.S. Senate reject American membership in the body. That is not untrue. But Woodrow Wilson was one of the intellectual architects of racism in the United States, and the leader of the overtly racist Democratic Party. His Fourteen Points for world peace and international relations basically amounted to democracy for white people.
President Wilson effectively called for new nations based on ethnic majorities when those new nations had been part of rivals to the American, British, and French empires. For instance Poland, which did not exist as a state before World War I, was to be created out of parts of Russian and Germany. But he did not call for independent states to be carved out of any part of the American or British empire. Neither the Philippines nor Puerto Rico, both U.S. colonies, were considered nations capable of self-determination.
Japan was one of the few nations that had, at that time, escaped colonization by one of the imperialist nations (often referred to then as the Great Powers: the United States, Russia, Germany, France, the British Empire, and perhaps Italy). During negotiations Japan raised the idea that Asian peoples had a right to self-determination. That would mean the U.S., Britain, France and Holland giving up their colonies (Germany's were taken from it for losing the war). Woodrow Wilson, chairing the committee that considered that proposal, killed it. He really truly thought that only people of European descent were capable of self-government. Instead of a peaceful withdrawal of imperialists from Asia in 1920, the issue led to the Asian Anti-colonial War (always lumped by U.S. historians into World War II, to confuse the issue) and then to a series of national liberation struggles lasting into the 1970s, including the Vietnam War. [See also: U.S. War Against Asia]
Palestine, after World War I, was not allowed national self-determination. It was removed from the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire and places in the British Empire. The British, in order to receive Jewish financial backing during World War I, had promised to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine (the Balfour Declaration). While there were (fluctuating degrees) of Jewish immigration into Palestine before World War II, the British never official created a Jewish state or region in Palestine.
The United Nations was a reboot of the old League of Nations, with most of its flaws. It did not call for the abolition of colonialism. It was designed expressly to give the appearance of global backing to the new British-American alliance. It was not democratic in any reasonable sense of the term, as the one-person one-vote guideline was subverted by the colonial system and other un-democratic structures. Where independent nations had been established in Asia, the UN allowed them to be re-colonized. In particular when Korea tried to become an independent nation (the Korean War) the UN voted to attack Korea. Similarly, in almost every case where it has been involved, the UN has helped strong nations attack weaker nations.
Meanwhile, back in Palestine, the Jewish section of the population threw out the British and established a state by force of arms in 1946 through 1948. Unfortunately, this was not simply a matter of making reality out of the Wilsonian rhetoric of national self-determination. It was largely a land grab and instance of ethnic cleansing, for the native Palestinians were largely thrown out with the British, by the mostly European jewish invaders. The new state of Israel made further conquests in a series of wars, leaving the Palestinians with no territory of their own. Although at first reluctant to back the tiny new state and anger the Arab states in the region, in the U.S. Jewish votes in the key states of Florida and New York, along with a vast corruption of government through election campaign donations eventually made the U.S. government the primary military and economic backer of the state of Israel.
Despite their troubles, the Palestinians have retained their national identity and have created a culture of resistance to Israeli tyranny. This week the Palestinian National Authority petitioned the United Nations to recognize the Nation of Palestine.
President Obama is too worried about getting himself re-elected with American Jewish money and votes to support Palestinian statehood. Given the anti-democratic structure of the U.N., that means the Palestinian request will be blocked by its Security Council. Based solely on a military alliance that existed during World War II, five security council seats have permanent members (the U.S., Great Britain, Russia, France, and China) with permanent veto powers. Basically, the form of the United Nations is an oligarchy bordering on dictatorship.
However, a vote in the General Assembly is likely to show that the majority of the nations of the world want to recognize Palestine as a nation, and that implies they want to see justice done for the Palestinian people.
Americans should support democracy and national self-determination, including for the nation of Palestine. The United States government should voluntarily relinquish its veto power in the U.N., along with the other permanent Security Council members.
Further, the United States of America should recognize the Palestinian state, regardless of the outcome in the United Nations. President Obama should be ashamed of his self-serving following in the footsteps of that architect of racism, Woodrow Wilson.
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