“THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”—From Israel’s Declaration of Independence, May 14, 1948.
How many ways can we celebrate Medinat Yisrael’s 70 years as a free, independent Jewish nation?
We revel in its dramatic growth with a Jewish population that has surpassed the Jewish census of the United States. We have watched as its pioneers, among them the survivors of Europe’s descent into the unthinkable, built a nation literally from scratch. That nation didn’t just survive, but defeated Arab aggression on its way to becoming the hostile region’s most powerful military force.
It took in Jews expelled from Arab nations, it took in Jews choosing to leave a religiously bereft former Soviet Union and it airlifted Jews to their homeland from Yemen and Ethiopia.
Its welcoming role continues to be as vital as ever while Jews in France experience rising, sometimes fatal, acts of anti-Semitism. And as reported in this week’s Jewish Link, the vital work of Nefesh B’Nefesh has resulted in tens of thousands of anglo Jews building new lives in Israel.
Israel’s high-tech development, its agricultural, medical, water, educational and military innovations have made it a miracle that daily fulfills the dreams of Theodore Herzl, David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and other leaders.
Still, as Israel can and should celebrate, it watches an out-of-control Iran, which has, despite the West’s best diplomacy otherwise, never denied its desire to make the Jewish state disappear. Israel has already given land to the Palestinians with Gaza, only to see the area used as a launching pad of rockets from Hamas terrorists. At the same time, Hezbollah, Iran’s surrogate, has set up deadly positions in Lebanon and civil-war-torn Syria.
Though Amalek rises up again and again, in just 70 years Israel has become a powerful force for universal good and a safe harbor for world Jewry. It has done so because Israel is not afraid to innovate, it is not afraid to take risks, it is not afraid to love all Jews.
We believe in the people and spirit of Israel—for those of us living in the Diaspora and those of us who have made aliyah. Happy birthday, Israel. Here’s to the next 70 years.