Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have understood the historical significance of Nov. 29 when he chose it as the date to seek nonmember observer state status for the Palestinians at the U.N., but the irony may have been lost on most Israelis.
A poll commissioned by the Zionist Council of Israel found that 71 percent of Israelis do not know that Nov. 29, 1947, was the day on which the U.N. General Assembly approved the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, a decision that led to the establishment of Israel half a year later.
The question "Do you know what happened on Nov. 29, 1947?" was asked to 501 Israelis, ages 18 and over.
The poll found that 78% of Israeli women and 64% of Israeli men could not answer the question.
The lack of awareness was highest in Israel's ultra-Orthodox community (86%). Among secular Israelis, 58% did not know the significance of the date.
Older Israelis (ages 65 and older) were no more knowledgeable than younger Israelis (ages 18-24).
Current and former officers from Israel Defense Forces combat units displayed one of the highest levels of awareness of the date. Almost 62% of respondents from this group were able to say what occurred on the date.
"It saddens me to see the results of this poll and to realize that the public is not aware of one of the most Zionist days in Israel's heritage," Yaakov Hagoel, a World Zionist Organization official, said. "Nov. 29 is a day when we publicly remember the right of the Jewish people to live in the land of Israel."