This piece is one of a series of pieces commissioned from leaders to speak to their feelings about Israel at 70. You will find the others here.
Birthdays are a time for celebrating one’s life, giving thanks, friendship, taking stock of the trials that led to the day, and wishing for a happy and healthy future.
Israel has much to be proud of and grateful for on the 70th birthday of her reestablishment. The Jewish nation has survived and thrived against seemingly impossible odds. In the decades before Israel’s rebirth as a modern state, Arab terrorists massacred Jewish communities in Hebron, Jerusalem and Safed. Millions of European Jews who had been expected to help repopulate the Jewish nation went up in smoke in the Holocaust. The minute Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, six Arab nations attacked the fledgling Jewish state. And while Israel was battling for her existence, Israel was also busy resettling a million Jews who had fled for their lives from murderous pogroms in Arab nations. Arab terrorists and boycotters and Iranian mullahs have not ceased their threats to Jewish lives and the Jewish state. Terrorism-group-allied BDS groups continue their propaganda onslaughts.
Despite all these trials, Israelis have rebuilt a nation that is a beacon of light and democracy with a robust free press and independent judiciary - the Middle East’s greatest protector of women’s rights, minority rights, and civil rights. It is a nation that provides high quality education and health care for all her people. And it is a nation that offers her helping hand, medical care and agricultural advances to struggling African nations, ill family members of sworn enemies, and victims of catastrophes throughout the world. Despite rocket attacks, terror tunnels, kidnappings and unspeakable Palestinian-Arab terror attacks on Israeli citizens, Israel maintains – in the words of British commander Richard Kemp – the world’s most moral army. Israel literally made deserts and swamps bloom, and rescued waves of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
Opinion | It’s Time To Stop Apologizing For Israel And Start Celebrating
In sum, Israel is a miraculous, magnificent, awe inspiring achievement.
After seventy birthdays, it’s time to proudly acknowledge this. It’s time to stop defensively initiating purportedly “pro-Israel” articles with phrases such as “of course, Israel isn’t perfect” – when that’s totally irrelevant. No ones perfect but one doesn’t proclaim that about France, England or even Jordan. It’s time to stop giving credence to false “Palestinian-Arab narratives,” realize that the truth is on our side, and spread that truth. It’s time to stop saying “the situation is complicated” – when there’s nothing complicated about acknowledging the ongoing Arab war to annihilate Israel. It’s time to stop castigating every imaginary Israeli flaw – like a hyper-critical misanthrope who focuses on a tiny imaginary pimple on a gorgeous woman. It’s time to appreciate and take pride in Israel’s inspiring story.
It’s also time to assure that memories are passed on to future generations. Israelis who witnessed Israel’s rebirth are now in their late 70s, 80s and 90s – or already gone. We need to record their memories for posterity – stories about the Arab siege of Jerusalem, and the painful years of Jordanian occupation that cut the Jewish people off from our holiest sites, including the Western wall. The ZOA recently started making such recordings.
Israel’s 70th Birthday also reminds us of the strong tie between Israel and America. On May 25, 1787, America’s founders, inspired by the Hebrew Bible, gathered in Philadelphia to write the U.S. Constitution. On the same date 231 years later, Israel declared her independence, and President Truman made the U.S. the first country to recognize the Jewish state. This year, on May 14, the U.S. will finally move its embassy to the Jewish State of Israel’s capital Jerusalem – another symbol of the friendship between our nations. Remarkable and just.
Morton Klein is the director of the Zionist Organization of America.
It’s Time To Stop Apologizing For Israel And Start Celebrating