Shia Altman
Shia Altman

Now that Israel is 69, I wonder…

I took some time thinking about what to write regarding the arrival of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day. Another year is a victory of course, especially when much of the world wants you dead.

Israel, like the Jews, is an entity always trying to stay one step ahead of the sheriff. I don’t mean to imply, heaven forbid, that a continuous state of escape means there is anything nefarious going on. I mean that mere existence for Jews is a battle, and it is a hindrance about which most others need not worry.

And I think it is safe to say that over the history of my people, a sheriff or government authority was not always a moral authority, or representative of a moral jurisdiction.

Of course, there is an abundance of problems in the world, and yes, there are peoples and places that are on a tragic and terrible path. But going back to when the Jews were in Egypt some 3,500 years ago, it seems, no other nation has suffered as have the Jews.

I don’t want to get into the reasons for anti-Semitism and any kind of theological discussion of the causes of Jew hatred. In fact, I wonder sometimes if it even matters.

Even if those who hate were to admit they do so, not because of the Palestinians or settlements, but simply because they hate Jews just because they are Jews, for whatever the ancient reason – the good old anti-Semitism before Israel became a state, would the evil stop? Would the hatred turn to love?

And at this Yom Ha’atzmaut, what about that chronic thorn in the side of the world, Israel? Were Israel to yield more land to a terrorist supporting authority, would that truly help the cause of peace, or would it only accelerate yet another major setback to the Jewish nation.

Now we know it wouldn’t hurry any complete demise, because like it or not, we aren’t going anywhere. History has been our witness.

But what would happen were Israel to cede more land. You might ask, how did that work with Gaza? Even had Israel been more deliberate and cautious in how it withdrew, the result would probably have been the same. I  was naïve about Gaza myself.

But let’s say that was an extreme example, that the same circumstances and results would not apply. In fact, what would happen, I wonder, if Israel gave in to all Palestinian demands?

Let’s say Israel not only gave up all of Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank, and I do not say “returns” the small territory, because there is no returning anything to someone who never owned it in the first place, but again, let’s say Israel gave up that land that sits at the heart of the country.

Withdrawal would of course mean gutting the country like gutting a fish and would leave an already very vulnerable tiny place as little as nine miles wide at its width – where major metropolitan areas lie.

But hey, it’s for peace, right?

Let’s say Israel allowed, within its pre-1967 Six Day War borders, the so-called Palestinian “right of return,” the demand that those Arabs who left after Israel’s creation in 1948, and again in 1967 even of their own accord, return.

They could just just show up and be given land, even properties left behind, expelling Jews. And of course, Israel would dismiss any provable claims that those properties were stolen from the Jews before then.

But we want peace, don’t we?

Let’s say Israel even gave up any claim, religious or otherwise, to any part of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, including even the Western Wall.

Israel would simply leave it all and go back to before 1967 when Jews were unable to visit and certainly worship on, or next to, Judaism’s holiest place on this earth. (They still cannot on the Temple Mount.)

And to make it more palatable, Israel and all Jews would agree to deny Jerusalem, and any part of it, ever had any spiritual significance to the Jewish people.

In fact, why not deny any religious significance of any part of Israel? Why not deny the Bible and its history and so, Zionism, the reason for an established Jewish state exactly where it is?

Now this would go a long way toward peace, wouldn’t it?

Have I missed anything? No problem, just give the other side whatever it wants.

So let’s say Israel just plain gives in on everything, because after all, would the Arab world or the world itself be happy with a compromise? So forget compromising, just give it up. All of it. No need to look at any maps and painstakingly negotiate new borders, just take what you want, no worries.

Think about it. Would all of it be enough? Would anything ever be enough?

If the past is a guide, even the recent past, for example, as recent as yesterday, and every day of terror each and every day that becomes a yesterday, nothing will be enough. And the risks are too great.

I don’t have the answer to the conflict, but until there is a damn good one, staying vigilant and strong, and yes, being overly-cautious and stubborn, guarantees not just the continued existence of the Jewish State of Israel, but also of the Jewish people.

And Israel’s existence is good for everyone.

While the Jewish State continues to stay a step ahead of the sheriff, it continues to innovate, not just for itself but for the betterment of the world, including those who hate it and hope for its destruction.

As terrorists and terrorist states keep looking for ways and opportunities to take lives, Israel keeps looking for ways and opportunities to save lives. And to make all lives better. And it has and will continue to do so.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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