A Jewish State: ‘Mazel Tov!’

From the Pages of the Forverts: The Original Editorial From May 15, 1948, Marking Israel’s Independence

Published May 01, 2008, issue of May 09, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The day has finally arrived, the day that Jews have awaited with such longing in their hearts — a day for which they have waited 2,000 years.

HOME: After a 12-hour journey from Cyprus, Jewish refugees arrive in Haifa, where crowds greet them.
HOME: After a 12-hour journey from Cyprus, Jewish refugees arrive in Haifa, where crowds greet them.

The dream of many generations has become a reality: In the Land of Israel, a Jewish state has been founded. It will be called “The State of Israel.” And the time has come for Jews from all over — the children of a people dispersed throughout the world — to wish one another “Mazel tov!”

Throughout history, there has been no example such as this with any other people. It is therefore no wonder that the whole world is so amazed and looks on as if a miracle occurred — one that could happen only once in 2,000 years. And with Jews, no less!

It is already the third time that Jews have made a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. And exactly as it happened the previous two times, they’re undergoing terrible difficulties and are currently surrounded on all sides by their enemies. But the experiences the Jewish people have had over the past 2,000 years since they lost their independence have hammered into them a stubbornness that no power in the world could break. The best example thereof is the courage shown by the Jews during the many years they suffered through terrible persecutions and were not eradicated. Their sense of peoplehood remained intact.

Just as in the period following the Babylonian Exile, there are those who aren’t happy with the newly created Jewish state, making all kinds of attempts to block it. But it is hoped that now, just as then, we will defeat them.

In the fourth chapter of the Book of Nehemiah there is a story that one can compare with current events in the life of the Jewish people. There we read: “And it was when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem were again being made, that it was being restored and rebuilt where it had been a wasteland, that they burned with anger.” So it was told in Nehemiah.

There are always those in whom anger burned when they heard that Jerusalem was being restored and when they saw that the Jews of the Land of Israel were again building where it was once desolate. But the Jews were not fearful of all their enemies, in whom terrible anger burned, and it was due to their stubbornness that they re-established a state and rebuilt a ruined land, and they even did their work armed with swords and sticks and drove away their enemies.

It’s no novelty for Jews to be armed while having to rebuild the land and restore their country, something that should serve as an example for other peoples.

Just as in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, after the Babylonian Exile, the Jews in Land of Israel are doing this now — and in a bigger way, on a much larger scale and with more courage and heroism.

Since the representatives of the United Nations began debating the issues regarding the Land of Israel at their recently completed special sessions, there has not been one moment where it didn’t seem that the fate of the Yishuv wasn’t hanging in the balance. Even good friends seek ways to avoid confusion. They try to create the impression that with their best intentions to help, they cannot actually do anything because the situation is so tangled and every step must be taken with great care. There has been a great fear that they will talk and talk and nothing will come of it. And who knows if it would have ended up the same way if not for the great courage of the Jews — and, the main thing, the incredible heroism of the Yishuv — when the opportunity arose to compare strength on the battlefield with their enemies, in whom burns an anger from seeing Jews rebuilding the Land of Israel where it had been a wasteland.

The heroism of the Jewish youth in the Haganah during the months since the United Nations’ decision on partition, and the courage that they, the grandchildren of the Maccabees, showed in the battle against those who want to destroy the last hopes of an independent Jewish people, made a visible mark on the subsequent course of events. The world has seen a power that streams from 2,000-year-old national aspirations that have no equal in the history of any other people. This power has a mystical quality, something that breathes of eternity and which cannot be choked by swords or guns, just as one cannot drown in a sea of talk.

It was not with diplomacy but with the heroic deeds of the descendants of the Maccabees that a Jewish state was re-established in the Land of Israel. They have the biggest stake in it. They wrote one of the most beautiful chapters in the history of the Jewish people, and in their memory it will remain for all future generations.

Further difficulties, of course, will have to be overcome. This is only the beginning, and we can only hope for the best.

We are thrilled that America was the first to recognize the Jewish state, thereby strengthening the hands that will protect it.






Find us on Facebook!
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.