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Israel: A nation reborn

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The coming into being of a Jewish state in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand, or even three thousand years.” (Winston Churchill)

Let me put my cards on the table. I’m not dispassionate when it comes to Israel. Quite the contrary.

The establishment of the state in 1948; the fulfillment of its envisioned role as home and haven for Jews from around the world; its wholehearted embrace of democracy and the rule of law; and its impressive scientific, cultural, and economic achievements are accomplishments beyond my wildest imagination.

For centuries, Jews around the world prayed for a return to Zion. We are the lucky ones who have seen those prayers answered. I am grateful to witness this most extraordinary period in Jewish history and Jewish sovereignty ― in the words of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, “to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

And when one adds the key element, namely, that all this took place not in the Middle West but in the Middle East, where Israel’s neighbors determined from day one to destroy it through any means available to them — from full-scale wars to wars of attrition; from diplomatic isolation to international delegitimation; from primary to secondary to even tertiary economic boycotts; from terrorism to the spread of antisemitism, often thinly veiled as anti-Zionism or BDS campaigns— the story of Israel becomes all the more remarkable.

No other country has even remotely faced such a constant challenge to its very right to exist, even though the age-old biblical, spiritual, and physical connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel is surely unique in the annals of history.

Indeed, that connection is of a completely different character from the basis on which, say, the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the bulk of Latin American countries were established, that is, by Europeans with no legitimate claim to those lands who subjugated and decimated indigenous populations and proclaimed their own authority. Or, for that matter, North African countries that were conquered and occupied by Arab-Islamic invaders who, without hesitation, redefined their national character. Or nations like Iraq and Jordan, which were created by then-imperialist Western powers for entirely self-serving reasons.

No other country has faced such overwhelming odds against its very survival, or experienced the same degree of never-ending campaign of demonization and vilification by too many nations ready to throw integrity and morality to the wind, and slavishly follow the will of the energy-rich and more numerous Arab states.

Yet Israelis have never succumbed to a fortress mentality, never abandoned their deep yearning for peace with their neighbors or willingness to take unprecedented risks to achieve that peace—as was the case with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, for example, in the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and one day, no doubt, in a deal with the Palestinians, when their leadership finally accepts Israel’s reality—never lost their zest for life, and never flinched from their determination to build a vibrant, democratic state. Advertisement

Here was a people brought to the brink of utter destruction by the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany and its allies. Here was a people shown to be utterly powerless to influence a largely indifferent world to stop, or even slow down, the Final Solution. And here was a people, numbering barely 600,000, living cheek-by-jowl with often hostile Arab neighbors, under unsympathetic British occupation, on a harsh soil with no significant natural resources other than human capital in what was then Mandatory Palestine.

That the blue-and-white flag of an independent Israel could be planted on this land, to which the Jewish people had been intimately linked since the time of Abraham, just three years after the end of the Holocaust — and with the support of a decisive majority of UN members at the time (33 in favor, 13........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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