The State of Israel marks the 72nd anniversary of its creation today, according to the Hebraic calendar. Blessed is the beloved historical homeland!
In 1948, the United Nations was new, the thermal heat of the European Holocaust of the Jews still pressed, and the global Christian conscience was reeling from the truth about what happened in Europe between 1933—1945.
For a flash, it was morally incumbent upon the nations of the world to understand some virtue in Jewish yearnings, to hear some truth in Hebrew folk songs. We need to point out that the soul-searching of the Gentile world, especially the Catholics, on this subject, and its fascination with the reborn Israel, has been a significant element of recent Christian liturgy and principles. A lot of people, on both ends, have found common ground in the Holy Land.
But meanwhile, the blessing of the greater world would have been fruitless without the sharp preparedness of the Jewish people to seize the moment – and this remains the singular achievement of Zionism. The Jewish Agency was ready in Palestine: it had sustained a provisional government under the British there even with arid conditions, poor resources, meager support, civil war in the land, disaster in Europe. It turns out that the Jewish people, especially the tattered pioneers of modern Israel, were not dead – we were prone.
You have to think about this! Let us honor the triumph of Zionism 72 years after the UN made Israel its own child. It was less than three years after the liberation of Auschwitz. What other ethnic group might have done it? What other nation in human history has remade itself, literally and physically, on desert land, after losing not one million, but six million of our family, including nearly two million children?
Now, on this significant anniversary of Jewish yearnings fulfilled, Israel is not altogether a folk song, nor is it a biblical verse. It is a real place, with a budget, intense security issues, and a traffic pattern, born of an inspiring Zionist movement that is a resounding success.
There have been, and remain, significant issues. Israel remains mired in a human rights crucible exacerbated by the now fifty-three-year occupation of the West Bank. The fact that the situation was created by the combined invasion of five Arab armies in June, 1967 no longer exonerates the Jewish State from responsibility to the innocent Palestinian children living in the region. They want books, not blockades. They require milk, not military. Israel has been so exceptionally innovative in so many areas—where is that inventive spirit in this painful matter?
Israel is the modern realization of the melodies of David’s harp, the military songs of Deborah, the love lyrics of Solomon. The fact that its founding movement, now well over a hundred years old, born of pain, chutzpah, and a million eucalyptus trees, has reinvented itself time and again, is a tribute to its endurance and glory.
The Romans were supposedly an eternal dominion. The sun never set, they said, on the British Empire. The Third Reich was to last a thousand years. All three of these powers have, at one time or other, subjugated the Jews. Zionism, that special expression of Jewish life that has turned the Psalms into action, has succeeded.
It says to every exile: you are home. And it speaks to everyone else: know the history before you judge the present.