Israel at 70 - AJC eBook - Page 7

Israel At 70 Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. 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 anti-Semitism, often thinly veiled as anti-Zionism or BDS campaigns — the story of Israel’s first 70 years 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. 1