At 63, the Jewish State is a relative newcomer to the family of nations, yet in just over two generations it has been able to catch up and exceed the accomplishments of the majority of the older Western democracies in practically every category of human endeavor, not to mention the newer states in Asia and Africa and the Middle East. The eminent British historian Paul Johnson wrote of the Jewish State: “In the last half-century, over 100 completely new independent states have come into existence. Israel is the only one whose creation can fairly be called a miracle.”
Israel is a miracle because the Jewish state was established against all odds. The Jewish people, having just suffered one of the worst catastrophes in its 4000-year history – the Nazi-engineered Holocaust – found the courage to withstand the genocidal onslaught of the well-equipped and numerically superior Arab armies. The aggressor nations included Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, as well as contingents from Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and naturally the Palestinian-Arabs.
It was the determination of the Israeli-Jews to fight to the death rather than go like “sheep to the slaughter” that enabled the Yishuv – the term used for the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine – to triumph over regular armies such as Egypt’s, which used aircraft, tanks, and heavy artillery against the Israelis who lacked such arms. Western allies, including the U.S., embargoed weapon sales to the region, but Egypt and Jordan were already well equipped by the British.
Ironically, had the Palestinian-Arabs accepted the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the Jewish State might have withered away in time, or remained a tiny enclave dependent on the good will of the Arabs. Paul Johnson put it like this, “It was the Arab leadership, by its obduracy and its ready resort to force, that was responsible for the somewhat enlarged Israel that emerged after the 1949 armistice, and the same mind-set would create the more greatly enlarged Israel that emerged after the Six-Day War of 1967. In another of the paradoxes of history, the frontiers of the state, as they exist today, were as much the doing of the Arabs as of the Jews. If it had been left to the UN, tiny Zion probably could not have survived.”
Arab enemies of Israel and its western detractors, motivated by envy and residual anti-Semitism, harp on Israeli “occupation” and Palestinian rights of “self-determination.” The Arab-Palestinians, unlike the Kurds or the Tibetans, have had numerous opportunities to assert their self determination. They rejected the 1947 UN Partition because they objected to the idea of sharing mandatory Palestine with the Jews and in so doing lost their opportunity for statehood. Their intent was to destroy the nascent Jewish State rather than live side-by-side with it. Unfortunately, not much has changed since 1947, especially when it comes to the mindset of Arab leaders.
The Palestinians, as has been said, never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. In 1937 they rejected the British Peel Commission Partition plan, which would have given them sovereignty and a large percentage of the land. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, lamented in 1957 that had the Peel Commission recommendations been carried out, “the history of our people would have been different and six million Jews in Europe would not have been killed – most of them would be in Israel”
In the absence of peace, Israel has the legal right to administer the territories of Judea Samaria sanctified by the 1967 UN Resolution 242, which called for “territories for peace.” The UN Resolution called moreover for “territories” and not “all” the territories to be exchanged for peace. By withdrawing from the Sinai and Gaza, Israel fulfilled its part of the Resolution, and it remains for the Arabs (Syria and the Palestinians) to negotiate peace with Israel without pre-conditions while forswearing terrorism, and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state
As part of the 1993 Oslo Accords signed at the White House lawn ceremony, Israel agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians were, however, obligated to end incitement and violence against Israel, and eliminate the terrorist infrastructure. These obligations have never been met. Yasser Arafat rejected the proposed “end of conflict” at the Camp David Summit in July 2000 submitted by President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak. Arafat did not want to end the “occupation” or create a functioning Palestinian state, and like his predecessors in 1947, he preferred to believe in the “weakness of the Jews” thinking he would able to destroy Israel with the Intifada he initiated in September 2000.
At 63, Israel has progressed into a world class economy hailed for its technological innovations and medical research, which is saving lives throughout the world. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates remarked on a 2005 visit to Israel that, “Its no exaggeration to say that the kind of innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business.” Israel (population 7.7 million) follows the U.S. and China with the most businesses represented on Nasdaq stock market. Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s book “Start Up Nation” describes how, “Hampered by an Arab nation boycott that makes regional trade impossible and endowed with precious little by way of natural resources, Israel has beaten the odds to become a major player in the global business world, especially in the technology sector. With the highest number of startups per capita of any nation in the world and massive venture capital investment, Israel is one of the world’s entrepreneurship hubs.”
In 2011, the Jewish state is not only capable of defending its people; it has built an army second to none in innovation, resourcefulness, and moral standards. With necessity as mother of all inventions, Israel has created what Zeev Jabotinsky, the spiritual father of Prime Minister’s Begin and Netanyahu, called the “Iron Wall” of deterrence in order to fight the existential struggle against its genocidal enemies in the Arab world and Iran.
Despite being vilified by large segments of the world’s media and academia in the Muslim world and the West, facing a hostile UN, and worldwide campaigns of de-legitimization, Israel today possesses a solid foundation for greatness. As professor Bernard Lewis pointed out in a private conversation, “While the Muslim world will sink into insignificance in 30 years, as fossil fuels are replaced with new forms of energy, Israel will remain and grow as a regional power.”
Paul Johnson, in a 1998 Commentary article concluded, “The real task, and one that Netanyahu is well equipped to handle, is to create a society where—under conditions of peace—the clever children of Israel will want to stay, and where they can be confident they will flourish. Israel is an elite nation; in my opinion, that is what it should be, and unashamedly so, encouraging and training its people to be in the vanguard of the world’s activity in agriculture and industry, in technology, in the arts, in education and administration, in the conquest and the preservation of nature. Israel must have its place among the nations (to borrow the title of a book by its prime minister). But it is not a nation like other nations. Willy-nilly, it is and will continue to be sui generis, its people shaped by the terrible events of our century, and marked by destiny.”
Israel today is indeed a place where its people are flourishing in a prosperous economy, and a free democratic society which its people are ready to defend at all costs.