On this day: Israel joins the UN

May 11 1949: Anonymity to recognition


Almost a year after David Ben Gurion declared independence for the Jewish state; Israel was welcomed into the global club.

With something of a fraught relationship between the two since, it was nonetheless a positive step. Twelve countries voyted against welcoming the 59th members, including Afghanistan, India and Iraq, while nine, among them Britain, Denmark and Greece, abstained.

But with the support of 37 others, Israel became a part of the organisation that in 1947 paved the way for the Zionist dream to be realised with the partition plan vote.

The Israeli flag was raised outside the UN building almost immediately. The Dominican delegate welcomed the new member as "a new democratic nation devoted to the cause of peace."

Moshe Sharett, then Israel's Foreign Minister, addressed the delegates. He said it was a great day for Israel and for Jews around the world. "Its admission…is a transition from political anonymity to recognition," he said.

"At this historic juncture, Israel's thoughts turn to Jews in all countries but it claims the allegiance of none."

What the JC said: Israel's first steps as a member of the United Nations have aroused considerable interest in both political circles and among the general public…Every step of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, the moves of all Israeli representatives on international bodies, and the attitude of individual diplomats in foreign countries are being watched carefully not only in Tel Aviv, but also in the humbles villages and settlements. As soon as the Israeli delegation cast its first vote at UN, public interest in Israel began to concentrate on world affairs.

See more from the JC archives here.

    Last updated: 8:50am, May 11 2011