International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Today is International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a day established by the UN in 1977 to highlight the failure of the world to address Palestinian dispossession.



11/29/20233 min read

Today is International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a day established by the UN in 1977 to highlight the failure of the world to address Palestinian dispossession.

November 29 marks the day in 1947 in which the UN – without any input from Palestinians-- decided to partition their land to create two separate states, one “Jewish” (read Zionist) and one “Arab” (read Palestinian).

The UN was established in 1945 and two years later included only 57 member states. Among those, 33 voted for the resolution including 18 European and European settler states, 13 from South America and the Caribbean (many pressured or bought off), Liberia (a US creation), and the Philippines (a former US colony). Thirteen countries voted against, Arab- and Muslim-majority countries, Greece, Cuba, and India. The remainder abstained.

Among the abstentions was that of Britain, the colonial overlord of Palestine. Nevertheless, the British deserve the lion’s share of responsibility for enabling the process of Palestinian dispossession. As the dominant global power of the early 20th century, Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration endorsing the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine gave Zionism the international legitimacy it lacked. Almost 30 years of working hand-in-glove with fellow European settlers effectively sidelined and crushed Palestinian opposition colonialism and its handmaiden, settler colonialism.

In 1976, the General Assembly created the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which produced a set of clear objectives to address the Palestinian right to self-determination based on international law and the return of refugees to Palestine. The Security Council vetoed the committee’s recommendations, so the General Assembly turned to other means to keep the question of Palestine alive, including establishment of November 29 as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 1977.

Thirty years after the 1947 resolution, the UN was a different body entirely. Its number had almost tripled, filled with the ranks of decolonized countries in Asia and Africa. The 1960s and early 1970s were the heyday of Third World revolution and transnational anticolonial solidarities. The General Assembly was transformed into a global forum for airing and registering opposition to neo-colonialism. In 1974, the Palestine Liberation Organization was granted UN observer status and the next year, the General Assembly declared Zionism a form of racism.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees for a second time in 1967, million and a half would endure the cruelties of military occupation to this day.

American unilateralism, the politicization of UN humanitarian endeavors, and unconditional US support for Israel have weakened the ability and the authority of the UN at least since the end of the Cold War. In 1990, the resolution equating Zionism with racism was revoked.

More than 75 years since the fateful decision of November 1947 and the Nakba of 1948; almost 60 years since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, 16 years of siege on Gaza, and two months into a genocidal campaign against the people of Gaza, it’s hard to imagine that the Palestinian dreams of self-determination, equality, and return could be farther from realization.

If there is any light shining in on the darkness of this time, it’s the unprecedented outpouring of solidarity with Palestinians all over the world, to resist Israeli carnage fueled by American and European merchants and diplomats of death.

A line of global solidarity and steadfastness in support of Palestinians stretches directly from the General Assembly of its heyday in the 1970s to today’s mass protests. That’s a legacy to remember and cherish.

Yours in solidarity and community.