Tiny Israel at 75
Israel, all of 8,000 square miles, nestled at the crossroads of three major continents, has struggled to survive from its very beginning some 3,500 years ago. Armies on the way to conquer various enemies passed through the land (Canaan, Israel, Judea ) and destroyed it repeatedly. Two destructions by the Greek and the Roman empires laid the land desolate and drove its population into exile. Because of this, the Israelites never had the opportunity to settle and grow its population like most nations on earth. Instead, its population was resigned to exile and dispersion across Europe and North Africa, without a home.
Following WWI in 1917, Britain, who ruled over Palestine, declared the land to be a home for the Jewish people. Only four years later, Britain decided to give 4/5 of the land to the Arabs, calling it Trans Jordan. Britain proved to be more concerned with the Mufti’s demands than the little Jewish population in Palestine. So, in the blink of an eye, the Jews lost most of their land. And that would not be the last time this land was divided. In 1947, the League of Nations commission decided to split Palestine into an Arab and Israeli state, splitting the already small country in half.
Today, two thousand years after the Roman exile, the Jewish people have a homeland which is surrounded by hostile neighbors both outside and within. It is perhaps the only country which is terrorized on a daily basis. It is ironic and unfortunate to hear Arabs complain of the Jews taking their land. There are actually 22 Arab countries, covering 5 million sq. miles, which also happen to contain 60% of the world’s oil reserve. Do the Arabs need more land?
Alas, this tiny country at 75 years old stands tall as perhaps the strongest country in the region. Israel’s achievements have surpassed all expectations. Technologically it is on top of the world as nations big and small seek to acquire its knowledge and products. Agriculturally it has brought the desert to life, growing vineyards and fruits as countries around the world seek our innovations.
At the same time, Israel at 75 is plagued with inner struggles, as was evident in the recent drive for judicial reform. For a tiny country with a very small population, Israelis are proving unable to govern themselves. During the last four years, no government was able to last over a year. Currently Israel finds itself once again in turmoil.
As Netanyahu returned to govern Israel, it was very apparent that he veered too far to the right, bringing aboard hawkish personalities who may be driving the country to the brink. In response, ever-present demonstrations took over the streets and appear to have gained the upper hand.
On top of all this, Israel is facing an increasingly unified threat from outside and within. Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iran, Hamas and the Palestinians are trying to jointly orchestrate their confrontations with Israel. Turkey has even warned Israel to stay away from its own Temple Mt. The Palestinians have already shown that they can use Temple Mount riots to rally the Muslim world against Israel. All of this adds up to some of the most dangerous developments which Israel has faced.
Israel and its people are resilient. Just as we have overcome many challenges to become the successful nation we are today, we must overcome challenges once again. To do that, we must regain our collective spirit and put aside differences, whether religious or political. When Israel is one, it will continue to thrive.