Friday, May 16, 2008

Israel at 60; a Land of Hope

Happy birthday Israel!

The following article on the subject is the the first article I have read in 16 days.... (due to: ) because my friend Joe asked, I read it, and I am glad I read it.

It is one of the best pieces I have seen to project the Jewish side of the human experience and endurance. I have written quite a few comments along the same lines.

I just wrote and I hope you can see some sense in the piece I wrote last November . I have to complete a full presentation on the subject of Peace for Israel and Palestine and it touches along the same lines Joe has written below. And this

There is a dire need for the Palestinians to understand the trauma the Jewish people have endured and the Israelis to understand the hopelessness, pain and anguish of the Palestinians. The leadership on both sides has focused on bullying each other and cowing each other down.... that is inhuman and has failed, yet they don't get it. We need a human approach - to step forward. I hope to write that piece some time this year.

The one sentence that I need to understand is the "the armies of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, attacked Israel. Five countries, with combined populations of 25 million, declared war on the State of Israel , with population of 600,000." I need to understand the background on this particular aspect and hope to learn it from both sides of the issue.

Sadly, we the Americans cannot bring peace to the Middle east because we do not have the genuine disposition to see another point of view nor do we have the emapthy for the Palestinians or truly understand the security needs of the Jews. Yet we talk about peace without meaning it. It is time we focus on justice to bring about sustainable peace to the Jews and the Palestinians.

Mike Ghouse
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Israel at 60 - A Land of Hope

Joe Samuels

May 14, 1948. Tears of joy mixed with tears of fear. After the longest exile ever endured by any people, the Jews now had their own State. Then the war broke out. Oops? The war broke out? How does a war break out? Is it lightening from the sky that starts a forest fire? Someone must start a war. On that day, May 14, 1948 while the Israelis were dancing in the streets of Tel Aviv and rejoicing the birth of their nation, the armies of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, attacked Israel. Five countries, with combined populations of 25 million, declared war on the State of Israel, with population of 600,000. That was a traumatic time that changed my life forever. I was 18 years old in Baghdad. The tears of fear drowned the tears of joy. A year later I was smuggled safely out of Iraq. I was lucky.

For centuries, Jews were dispersed all over the world, wandering from one place to another in search of safety and a place to live, always a minority. It was a history of suffering, adding new words to a lexicon of tragedy: expulsion, disputation, forced conversion, inquisition, ghetto, Dthimitude, and pogrom. Jews were suspended between memory and hope, sustained by the promise that God will bring them back. Although they no longer lived in the land, the land lived in them.

Throughout the years, they returned to the Promised Land. In the 15th and the 16th centuries, Jews came from Spain and Portugal. In the 17th century, they came from Ukraine after the massacre of 1648.

In 1879, a disturbing phenomenon appeared. It was given a new name: anti-Semitism. After the Russian Pogrom of 1881 and the Dreyfus trial in 1895 in France, Jewish leaders such as Theodor Herzl, warned that Europe was becoming unsafe.

Then came 1933 and the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Anti-Semitism was at the heart of his campaign and laws against the Jews were enacted. Gradually Jews were deprived of their rights, jobs and their freedom. They were spoken of as lice, vermin, and a cancer to be surgically removed from the body of the German nation. Millions of Jews were in danger. Nation after nation shut its doors. On the vast surface of the earth there was not one inch of land Jews could call home.

As the smoke of war cleared in 1945, as the Russians entered Auschwitz and the British Bergen Belsen, people began to understand the enormity of what had happened. A third of the world Jewry had gone up in flames. One and a half million children had been murdered.

When the war was over, Jewish refugees couldn’t enter the land. On November 29, 1947 the UN voted to partition the land between its Jewish and Arab population. While the Jews accepted, the Arabs refused. After 2000 years of wandering the State of Israel came into being. Was this the hand of God or the work of human beings? Surely it was both. The tears of joy drowned the tears of fear.

A homeless, penniless refugee, I arrived in Israel, like others from Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, and Afghanistan. Holocaust survivors and refugees came from over 100 countries and spoke 80 languages. They came from Russia when it opened its doors. They came home to the land of hope, Israel. In few short weeks, after my arrival in Israel, I found work; and a place to stay. I was free and equal citizen. I was no more a refugee.

The Jews accepted every partition proposal, the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the Peel Commission in 1937, and the UN in 1947. After Israel victory in the 6 Day War in 1967, Israel again proposed land for peace. The Arab countries gathered in Khartoum declared: no negotiation, no recognition and no peace. Only two countries have since made peace treaties with Israel, Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The peace treaty on the lawn of the white House, in September 1993 lasted less than a year. A wave of suicide bombers struck in restaurants, buses, parks, schools, shopping malls and busy streets.

Had the Arab leaders accepted the UN partition plan instead of launching a war, to seize all the land, an independent Palestinian-Arab state would now exist alongside Israel. There would have been no Palestinian refugees. If Arab countries had not expelled their Jewish citizens, there would have been no Jewish refugees from Arab countries either. Israel was never far from war, or the threat of war, terror, or the threat of terror. It fought wars in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982. Israel is a tiny country home to a tiny group of people. It is the size of the Belize or the State of New Jersey and is one sixth of 1% that of the Arab lands.

Judaism is the oldest western religion. It is twice as old as Christianity, three times as old as Islam, yet there are 82 Christian countries, 56 Muslim countries but only one Jewish State.

How do Israelis live with the constant threat of violence and war, and create a thriving democracy, that excels in agriculture, science, medicine and technology? How did the Jews survive for a hundred generations to build a country from the ashes of the Holocaust? The answer is faith, hope and the refusal to believe or act as victims.

Israel’s National Anthem Hatikvah, means the Hope. Israel is the land of hope. At 60, Israel’s journey is not yet over, and will not be, until peace, Shalom, Salam will come. Peace is a duet and can’t be done solo by Israel alone. Until the Palestinians accept the existence of Israel, the chance for peace is slim. So, for the sake of the Israelis, for the sake of the Palestinians, for the sake of God, humanity and the future generations let us all pray and hope for peace.

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