I just got an email from Ilene Prusher of the Christian Science Monitor:
I’m reply to your letter to my editor yesterday.
I used the sentence I did as shorthand for what would otherwise take at least two paragraphs. Monitor stories on the web are sometimes short and we don’t have a lot of space to get into deep history.
You correctly point out the 1947 Partition Plan, which is of course the turning point. But following the Partition Plan in late 1947, there was a war, after which Israel itself declared itself an independent state in May 1948. Then its recognition was put before the UN, and recognition was won with a vote of two-thirds of the General Assembly.
Shorthand for all of that is that the UN created – or at least sanctioned the creation of – Israel, first by the Partition Plan in 1947, and then by recognizing it as a state in 1948. These two UN votes, as you know, were crucial in the creation of the state [sic] of Israel.
I wrote back:
Dear Ms. Prusher:
Thank you for responding. Unfortunately, the explanation in your response has left me unconvinced that your shorthand (“Israel itself was created by a vote in the United Nations”) is sufficiently accurate. Although both events were very important in Israel’s founding moments, neither the UN’s support of the partition plan in 1947 nor the UN’s recognition of the State of Israel in 1948 was the act that created Israel. Similarly, if the Palestinians decide to declare independence, it will be the Palestinians themselves who would create the State of Palestine, and not a vote in the UN (although that would certainly help their cause). Sanctioning the creation of a state and actually creating it are very different things. By that logic, Harry Truman was at least as much the creator of the State of Israel as the United Nations.
UPDATE: Ms. Prusher wrote back immediately, “I see your distinction, and I’ll take it into consideration in our future coverage.”