Next year in Jerusalem: The history of the people of Israel

It started 4000 years ago with Abraham in the Land of Canaan, also named Israel.

One of Abraham’s grandsons was Jacob, later to become known as Israel.

Jacob led his descendants, who were to become the twelve Tribes of Israel, to Egypt.

They were escaping a famine in Canaan, but in Egypt they were forced into slavery.

Moses was born to slaves, destined to be drowned together with others like him.

Saved by his mother and adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, he became a Prince.

The courageous Moses grew up to lead his people out of slavery and out of Egypt.

While 40 years in the desert, Moses brought the nationhood of his people back to life.

Moses’ successor Joshua led them with their re-born laws and traditions back to Israel.

With their return 3000 years ago, resumed the history of a people on the Land of Israel.

In Jerusalem, they built the First Temple, a beautiful structure where all were welcome.

The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians four hundred years later.

They returned after seventy years to build the Second Temple on the same Mount.

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans five hundred years later.

Most were exiled while many remained, attempting to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

Rebellions against the occupiers were crushed, and many were massacred.

To erase a people’s history, the occupiers changed the name Judea to Palaestina.

Nevertheless they remained, developing the Talmud and a tradition of learning.

All over the world, they carried on with dignity, teaching tolerance and patience.

Yet they continued to be expelled, oppressed, massacred, and forced to convert.

They never left the Land of Israel, but many were forced to flee and to disperse.

They became writers, scientists, entrepreneurs, soldiers, teachers, and philosophers.

Their contributions were dismissed, and their successes were attributed to conspiracies.

Hate followed them obstinately, and they were blamed for all ills, accused of all crimes.

For 2000 years, they wandered the earth, strangers everywhere, and without a home.

Scattered, they remained one in the Torah and the promise of “next year in Jerusalem”.

In the late 1800’s, Herzl started a movement to reclaim sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

It was the home where many had been killed and from which many had been banished.

A few decades later, the world acquiesced, and they started their journey back home.

They started rebuilding their nation on arid land, getting ready for independence again.

However before they could complete their task, Europe decided that they had to die.

The world ignored their pleas and refused them sanctuary, so they died by the millions.

In 1948 they reclaimed the beloved land that some had never left for 3000 years.

But soon after tolerating the killing of six millions, the world betrayed them yet again.

The world allowed their neighbors to abuse them, expel them, and isolate them.

The world permitted their neighbors to wage an endless string of wars of annihilation.

These wars continue today with limitless supplies of hate and of willing collaborators.

The 4000-year-old hate burns still, with shameless demands for more massacres.

But the descendants of Jacob are now on their own land, resilient, sovereign, and free.

They will not let hate, lies, or violence deter them because they are home in Israel.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and he supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities, including Palestinians, can co-exist in peace with each other and with Israel, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere. Fred Maroun writes for Gatestone Institute.
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