The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is marking the milestone of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s rebirth as a modern nation by paying tribute to Israel’s extraordinary achievements and successes, achieved in most difficult and unpromising circumstances, over seven decades of sovereign statehood.
ZOA Chair Dr. Michael Goldblatt and ZOA National President Morton A. Klein issued the following statement on the occasion of Israel’s 70th Anniversary:
“Seventy years ago, in 1948, the modern, reborn Jewish state of Israel emerged. Today, with heartfelt joy, we celebrate this most extraordinary event in Jewish and world history, the rebirth of our nation after 2000 years of exile, statelessness and horrific persecution, which culminated in the Shoah in Europe and deadly anti-Semitic pogroms in Arab nations. The rebirth of Jewish statehood is an unparalleled event. No other people, no other nation, her sovereign existence destroyed in antiquity, has returned to her home and created a modern, living, vibrant, independent state. We are immensely privileged to be part of a special generation in Jewish history, the first generation in 2000 years, which can truly give thanks that the Jewish nation is independent, flourishing and in command of her own destiny.
“When Israel emerged into independent existence in 1948, she was immediately invaded by the armed forces of six neighboring Arab states, and also attacked by internal Palestinian Arab militias. The survival of the country was secured only after months of grueling struggle in which Jordan seized and illegally occupied the Jewish heartlands of Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and 6,000 Jews, one percent of the new nation’s population, were killed. No one who lived through those first few years of Israel’s modern sovereign existence would ever have imagined that, today, Israel would be the economic and military powerhouse, and hub of medical and scientific discovery, innovation and research that she is today.
“It is difficult to believe that a country of fewer than nine million people has produced so many successes in the domains of science and medicine, as well as in commerce, agriculture, architecture, art, music and literature. When Israel reemerged on the stage of history in 1948, few could have imagined that this small, besieged nation would in a few short generations witness the reunification under Jewish sovereignty of Jerusalem, the biblical, religious and historic capital of the Jewish people.
“Today, Jews pray at the Western Wall, something we were denied during Jordan’s illegal occupation of eastern Jerusalem from 1948-1967. Judea/Samaria today are witness to the flourishing of Jewish cities, towns, farms and hamlets. This land, promised to the Jewish people by G-d in the Bible, is an integral part of the Jewish state today.
“Israel did not seek the wars that led to the reunification of historic Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria with the state of Israel, but these lands have been miraculously restored to Jewish control. At the same time, new convergences unimaginable only a few short years ago, such as the behind-the-scenes rapprochement and strategic cooperation between Israel and several Sunni states, including most notably Saudi Arabia, have resulted from the looming threats of Iranian hegemony and nuclear weaponry – dangerous prospects that both Israel and her neighbors understandably and rightly fear.
“While protecting Israel’s borders and population, the Israel Defense Forces has proven itself to be the finest army in the world relative to its size, as well as the most ethical. To quote Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, addressing the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, ‘no army in the history of warfare had taken greater steps than the IDF to minimize harm to civilians in a combat zone.’ Indeed, the IDF has often done so to its own detriment, employing multiple warnings and methods to protect the lives of enemy non-combatants that other nations do not use.
“In the midst of decades of conflicts and threats, the Israeli spirit and morale also remains a remarkable success story. Israel today rates an enviable eleventh place globally in terms of societal happiness. Israel also boasts one of the world’s highest levels of longevity and lowest levels of infant mortality. And Israel’s high Jewish birthrates have proven population doomsayers wrong.
“Under normal circumstances, Israel’s achievements would be extraordinary. But as a nation that re-established herself in the teeth of enormous hostility, and that has so many disadvantages in key areas, such as having limited territory, wealth and resources, Israel’s accomplishments are truly remarkable.
“Israel also has developed an extraordinary high tech economy which robustly weathered the 2008 global recession, sustaining virtually no harm to her economy. Its economic accomplishments are respected by the entire world. Israel and the Jewish people are prevailing over threats still being experienced today, and will prevail in the future.
“The looming Iranian nuclear threat will soon be dealt with, one way or another. Israel has been preparing to meet this threat for years, and she will do so if and when all other avenues have failed. “For all the problems that afflict Israel, on this, the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s sovereign independence, we can all take tremendous pride in the vibrancy, resilience, innovation, morality and enterprise of the modern Jewish state of Israel.”