have often wondered why it is such a tiny nation as Israel commands so much news
coverage. Having declared its sovereignty in 1948, it is now just over sixty
years old. David Ben-Gurion went on the radio and said, "Two thousand years of
wandering have come to an end."
name Israel means, "he who wrestles with God." The wandering began after the
Jews had lived in Israel for over a thousand
years, after the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and drove them out in 70
Israel has fought and won wars
intended to annihilate it. Zionism, a new Jewish state, began as the dream in
the late 1800s among European and Russian Jews seeking to escape anti-Semitism.
It became a place of refuge for Holocaust survivors in the late 1940s and for
Jews who were forced to flee Middle Eastern nations.
a relatively new nation, it has held the attention of the world from the day it
was reborn in the sweat and blood of Jews seeking a place where being Jewish
was normal, accepted, and unexceptional.
gain an extraordinary insight, I recommend you read Rich Cohen's " Israel is Real: An Obsessive
Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its History" ($26.00, Farrar, Straus
and Giroux), possibly one of the best books I have read in decades about the
astonishing history of Israel from its earliest to
the present times. It is filled with stories of the people who built the First Temple and, after the
destruction of the Second Tempe, as Cohen says, "turned the Temple into a book," praying
for the next two millennia, "Next year in Jerusalem."
real Jews and real Israel are obscured by the
hatred attached to them by their Muslim enemies and other antagonists, but
there are many who now refer to themselves as Christian Zionists because to be
a Zionist is to advocate a land for the Jews. As Cohen puts it, to be Christian
is to be Jewish without actually being Jewish.
quandary of Jerusalem is that three major
religions lay claim to it. To be Jewish, to be Christian, even to be Muslim, Jerusalem is considered holy, but
its long history has been a litany of bloodletting as claimants sought to
legitimatize their faiths with its possession.
the original Zionists discovered was that Israel, called Palestine at the time
because of the British mandate over it, was not "a land without people for a
people without a land" or that its history ended after the Jews were driven out
by the Romans to become the Diaspora living among other nations.
Cohen notes, "The Zionist ideology was beautiful, but for the pioneers to
fulfill it, the Arabs could not exist." They did, however, exist. The quandary,
the conundrum of Jerusalem and of Israel is that the dynamics of
demography, of birth statistics, puts the existence of the Jewish state at
risk. The Arabs were there. The Arabs are there.
problem is exacerbated by the fact that the Arabs did not wish to yield an inch
of the land in 1948 and do not wish to do so now. They do not want a "two-state
solution." They want what the Nazis called "The final solution."
the early pioneers of Israel , its reestablishment
was a form of redemption. As one of its founding rabbis, Abraham Kook expressed
it the purpose of the Jew is to bring the divine idea into the world. To bring
this idea to fruition, to bring the Lord back into the lives of man, he said,
the Jews must return to Zion. His son, Ziv Yeshiva Kook, called the Holocaust a "cruel divine
operation needed to lift (the Jews) up to the land of Israel against their wills."
Holocaust, however, was more like the fulfillment of the hope of anti-Semites,
the extermination of Jews from the Earth. It has something to do with the role
Jews have played in relationship to the one God three major faiths lay claim.
The Jews are happy to share their God with others, but insist that some rules
be obeyed in the process.
living in America had already found their Zion, a place where Jews
could live normal lives. At the turn of the century, Jewish immigrants
overwhelmingly chose America , not Israel .
and since Israel 's founding, many made "aliyah" (return) and some fifteen percent of them are
American born. Since 1967, following a decisive war, more than two hundred
Jewish settlements have been built in what are referred to as the territories.
In 2005, seeking to exchange land for peace, Israelis were forced to leave Gaza. Israel did not get peace. It
now, American Presidents have been friendly to Israel , but that has changed
with President Barack Hussein Obama. His recent demands to stop the
construction of twenty housing units in East Jerusalem are a rebuke to Israel 's very existence. Cohen
notes that, "There are two hundred thousand Jews living on the West Bank-half of them in East Jerusalem, in neighborhoods
(that) Israel insists it will keep in
any peace deal."
will be no peace deal and the Jews of Jerusalem and Israel will continue to lay
claim to their nation. They have built a nation, but in doing so, they have
transformed themselves, often in ways even they don't like.
fly in the ointment is Iran 's development of a
nuclear weapon and its constant threats to "wipe Israel off the map."
new generation of Iranians protesting in the streets has to hurry up and remove
the evil mullahs and ayatollahs holding their ancient nation back from its full
potential, from freedom. Israel cannot wait forever to
end an atomic, existential threat. If it must, it will once again re-write the
history of the Middle East.