The State of Israel celebrates its sixty-ninth Independence Day. Those of us who were alive in 1947 when the state came into being cannot help but be amazed and impressed by our feisty little country and its achievements. Israel has never been as secure and strong as it is today. It has also, at the very same time, never been so vulnerable, demonized and beset with vicious uncompromising enemies as it is today. So again we find ourselves in the best of times and in very difficult times at one and the very same time.
But, I believe that by any measure, our glass is more than half full, especially in comparison with where we were sixty-nine years ago. And it is in this respect that Israel is and remains the absolute miracle of our time, if not even of the ages.
The impact that the existence of the State of Israel has had on the Jewish world over the past sixty-nine years has been incalculable. This includes all of the different groupings and factions that constitute the Jewish people today. Even the naysayers and the misguided BDSers amongst us cannot help but admit that they too are affected by the existence of the Jewish state.
Israel has pricked the Jewish conscience everywhere and that has caused discomfort to some, exultation to others and challenges to all. It has shattered all previous illusions amongst Jews about their place in the world, broken previously cherished and warmly held dreams and created the necessity to dream again, but now differently than we did before.
This truth lies in the ancient verse in Psalms that “that when the Lord returned the exiles of Israel to their home we will be but dreamers once more.”
The State of Israel has evolved in an unexpected and unpredicted manner. And it is still certainly but a work in progress. Its founders envisioned a rigidly secular – almost anti-religious nation, very left-leaning in politics and diplomacy and committed to doctrinaire socialist if not even Marxist economic and social programs and ideologies.
Sixty-nine years later the country is more traditionally religious than ideologically secular, more robustly capitalist in its economy than socialist and a bastion of Western democratic government – with all of the wranglings and inefficiencies that this system inevitably entails – and less of a completely state controlled society than previously envisioned. It has surprised everyone, even those who actually built it. Truly, we are but dreamers.
The country possesses an inner dynamism that raises it beyond predictability and ordinary patterns of growth and development. Its rate of absorption of new immigrants and its ability to blend them into the fabric of the country within a generation or two is testimony to the accuracy of what was said by the prophets of old. It is stated that after the time of the return of the Jewish people, the great and lengthy exile would finally begin to end.
Out of the babel of different languages and differing cultures, a cohesive, whole nation, diverse and fractious as it is, has nevertheless emerged and prospered. Those ancient prophets predicted it, in the long of night of exile and persecution, Jews continued to believe in it and at great cost and sacrifice, our generations have lived to see it become real and vital. What hath God wrought!
Israel has produced Nobel Prize winners and scientists and professors of worldwide acclaim. It has pioneered medical research, technological innovation and industrial and agricultural advancements and creativity. Almost every computer-like device in the world, and there are billions of such products in daily and constant use, have a piece of Israel inside of it. This fact alone confounds all of the nefarious evil of the Jew-hating Israel boycotters that still abound.
God’s promise to our father Avraham, that the whole world would benefit and be blessed through the achievements of the generations of his descendants, has been vindicated time and again by the accomplishments of the State of Israel.
And, most important of all, Israel has remained true to its mission of supporting Jewish values and Torah study as an integral part of its society and the fabric of the state. There has been no single greater supporter of Torah study in all of its diverse and holy forms than the State of Israel. That fact alone should draw forth gratitude and loyalty from the community most directly benefiting from this policy.
Old prejudices and theories, disproved by the realities of history, should finally be abandoned and a joint effort by all Jews to continue to build the Jewish future through a strong and secure Israel should be encouraged and executed.