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August 14, 2011, the Sunday after the straws aligned in the Iowa cornfields and a Texan two stepped into the 2012 race at the South Carolina Red State gathering, a shofar horn quieted a massive gathering for proactive support of Israel at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center.
A few months before, on May 31st, Americans United With Israel started a Facebook account that would organize this peaceful rally. According to their new webpage, the afternoon event was not “a religious expression, but an American expression for those supporting Israel… to support the Israeli Government’s call for peace.” The organizers were both Hassidic and Christian. The crowd, in the thousands, was equally diverse, Gentile and Jewish and multi-racial.
The Atlanta Jewish Times ad for the event touted Consul General Ophir Aviram and conservative Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as speakers. But a surprise guest speaker was the liberal Congressman John Lewis (D-GA). Without notes and in black pulpit cadences Rep. Lewis affirmed that, “America is Israel’s ally.”
The concerns of the crowd focused on the impending September 22nd UN vote on the Palestinian proposal to seek “Unilateral Declaration of Independence.” If this proposal were put forward before the UN Security council, one veto from the five permanent members- China, France, Russia, Britain, and the U.S.—would end the declaration. There are indications three of those nations would veto.
However the plan is to circumvent the council and present the UDI, Unilateral Declaration of Independence, directly to the 192 member countries of the General Assembly. If passed there, the UDI would be a non-binding recommendation. The word “unilateral” cuts against the desires of those supporting Israel and the history of the region.
The United Nations in 1947 voted for a two state solution, which the Jews accepted and declared the following year the Israeli State. However Arabs rejected that state and attacked. A 1949 armistice defined the lines between them, now referred to as the “1967 borders.”
The decades since that decision have not led the Arab nations in control of the Gaza and West bank areas to flourish into a productive Arab nation state. Despite the current discontent by encamped Tahrir Square youth, developed Israel has only a mild economic malaise and recently approved more housing developments. These settlements will be in an area that the Palestinian Authority will ask the full UN to bestow unilaterally as part of their independent state.
The diverse crowd assembled Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia would beg to differ, affirming a two-sided negotiation refining the two-state solution of 1949. With attendees of all races holding hands to sing, “Hine Ma Tov,” the Hebrew song for Unity, the crowd expressed hope for negotiated Middle East unity over UN voted unilateralism.
In a month the AUWI rally attendees will know whether the UN rejects or reflects such a position.