In our annual build-up to the anniversary of Israel's rebirth we have taken a somber reflection on some of the great calamities of the 20th century and how they have played a role in the history of the Middle East and the world at large.
Today however, we celebrate the greatest triumph of the Jewish people since the dedication of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem. It is important to remember that in the grand scheme of history there is no precedent for what occurred in the spring of 1948. Never before had the hopes and dreams of a broken people lain dormant for nearly 2,000 years before they were finally realized. This fact was not lost on the Zionist founders of the State of Israel. Secular (even non-religious) as they were, they still had a deep respect for history and appreciated the gravity of the moment,
as reflected by headlines from that day that not only speak of the "birth" of the state of Israel
The State of Israel is Resurrected
but of a REBIRTH of the first Jewish state in 19 centuries. The Founding Charter itself makes mention of this amazing turn of events:
IN ERETZ ISRAEL [the Land of Israel] arose the Jewish people, in which was formed its spiritual, religious and national image, in which it lived official sovereign life, in which it created national and universal cultural treasures and bequeathed to the world entire the eternal Book of Books.
After the nation was exiled from its land by armed strength it remained loyal to her in all the lands to which it was spread and did not cease to pray and hope to return to its land and to renew in her its national freedom.
From this historical and traditional connection strove the Jews in every generation to return and to grasp their ancient homeland, and in the last generations they returned in their masses, and pioneers, illegal immigrants, and defenders made spirits blossom, revived their Hebrew language, built villages and cities, and established a large and burgeoning community which controls its economy and culture, promotes peace and protects itself, brings forth the blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the Land and bears its spirit towards sovereign independence.
The charter also states the following:
The Holocaust which befell the Tribe of Israel in recent times, in which were led to slaughter millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew succinctly the necessity of a solution to the problem of the Jewish people lacking homeland and independence through the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, which will open wide the gates of the homeland to every Jew and will grant the Jewish people the stature of a nation of equal standing within the family of nations.
The remainder of the refugees which was saved from the terrible Nazi slaughter in Europe and the Jews of other lands did not waver from immigrating illegally to the Land of Israel in spite of every difficulty, obstacle and danger, and did not cease to demand their right to live in dignity, freedom and honest labor in the homeland of their people.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to Jewish immigration and the ingathering of exiles; will strive to develop the land for the benefit of all her inhabitants; will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace in the spirit of the visions of the Prophets of Israel; will implement equality of complete social and national rights for all her citizens without distinction between religion, race and gender; will promise freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; will protect the religious places of all the religions; and will be loyal to the principles of the declation of the United Nations.
In one of my first postings on this site I spoke of why it is important for ALL Jews to stand behind Israel...whether they live in Israel, have family there or don't even know where to find it on a map. The mere existence of the state is our only insurance policy against future atrocities and Holocausts. In addition to the charter's stated purpose of being a place of refuge, the fact that we have an independent, sovereign home, with its own military transforms 2,000 years of Jewish suffering into 61 years of Jewish triumph.
Never again will we have to hope and beg and plead to be saved by the outside world.
Never again will we have to hope that our host countries will be good to us and hope that kings, dictators and presidents will bestow upon us their good will and let us live in peace and quiet.
The triumph of the state of Israel is the triumph of the Jewish nation in rising up from the ashes of a broken, homeless people to take its rightful place in the world and have the freedom of self-determination and most importantly self-defense.
To our neighbors the Arabs and even the Persians I say, as in 1948 when we said to them the following:
WE CALL - even during the bloody attacks which have been carried out against us for months - to the members of the Arab nation residents of the State of Israel to keep the peace and partake in their share in the building of the State upon the principle of full and equal citizenship and upon the principle of appropriate representation in all institutions, temporary and permanent.
WE EXTEND a hand of peace and good neighborliness to all the neighboring nations and their peoples and call upon them to partake in cooperation and mutual assistance with the independent Hebrew nation in its land. The State of Israel is prepared to contribute her share in the joint effort to advance the Middle East entire.
The victory of 1948 need not only apply to the Jewish residents of Israel! Already today there are over a million Israeli Arabs who have partaken in the aforementioned equal citizenship. The solution to the Nightmare and the Catastrophe can also be the solution to the Nakba...if you only "partake in [your] share in the building of the State" - or at least live in peace as our neighbors in the West Bank and Gaza, you too can be a part of solution to both of our nations' problems!
It is then the our Triumph will indeed be shared by all of the residents of the Middle East. Until then, it is still just a hope. It is no coincidence that the national anthem of our country is called exactly that...
As long as deep in the heart,
A Jewish soul yearns
And to towards the ends of the east
An eye is scouting for Zion
Our hope is as yet not lost
The hope that is 2000 years old
To be a free nation, in our own country
The land of Zion and Jerusalem
כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה,
עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,
לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.
That day is not yet here and until that day comes we will celebrate the anniversary of the Triumph of the Jewish nation, in the face of impossible odds, alone.
Happy 61st Birthday, Israel.