Israel at 70 - AJC eBook - Page 8

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. “This story of nation-building is entirely without precedent.” No other country has faced such overwhelming odds against its very survival, or experienced the same degree of never-ending international demonization 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. This story of nation-building is entirely without precedent. 2