Three Cheers for the Jewish State of Israel
Israel’s parliament just enacted an historic law. “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people,” the Knesset declared, “who have the unique right to national self-determination.”
The secular media and Israel’s critics and adversaries are beside themselves. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a great response: “This is our state. The Jewish state.” In other words: Deal with it.
Why the Law?
Why a law emphasizing the nation of Israel as the Jewish homeland and the Jews’ right to national self-determination?
Because the Jewish people, a people unique in history, have suffered continuous repression and repeated attempts to destroy them as a people. They have maintained their identity for an amazing 3,500 years. Yet, despite earnest efforts to be part of the societies in which they live, they have sustained their identity at great, horrible cost.
Jakob Blankitny was about 14 years old when, with his parents and sisters, he was seized by the Nazis and herded into Auschwitz. You can read his whole tragic story on the U.S. Holocaust Museum website. The good news is that after years of being brutally treated, he survived.
Although six million other Jews did not, many of those who did migrated to what is now Israel. And from around the world they have come to that little country, denied them for thousands of years but once again vibrant and growing.
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That slaughter is the worst suffering experienced by the Jewish people. But it’s only the latest and most horrible of centuries of persecution, bigotry, and hatred. It’s also a pretty good reason why Jews the world over would want a safe place to live.
In doing this, Israel isn’t discriminating against anyone. It upholds the rights of its Arab citizens — rights almost entirely denied Jews in every Muslim nation in the greater Middle East.
About 17 percent of Israel’s population is Arab. They are welcome in Israel. A handful of bigots may want to force them out, but these fringe-dwellers have no real influence.
Arab Hatred of Jews
That’s one dynamic driving the new law. There’s another: Ongoing Arab hatred of the Jewish people. Do all Arabs hate the Jews? Of course not. But a stream of anti-Semitism runs through the Middle East.
A recent survey found that more than 90 percent of Palestinians “hold anti-Semitic beliefs.” Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, three-quarters of those surveyed were found to be anti-Jewish, with many being outright anti-Semites.
In May, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said the Jews’ “social function” had made people attack them. He meant banking. History, he says, “tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland.” Europe created Israel for its own purposes.
Just last month, according to Haaretz, “Tens of thousands of Iranians took part in anti-Israel rallies across the country to mark Iran’s annual day of solidarity with the Palestinians. They chanted ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America,’ burning the Israeli flag.”
By the way: Can’t these people think of anything more original? They’ve been using these same chants for decades. They’re boring. I’m reminded of the old line from the Herman’s Hermit’s song, Henry the Eighth: “Second verse/Same as the first!”
A Home of Their Own
Jakob Blankitny says: “Of all the people in my city … where 4,000 Jews originally lived before the start of World War II, only 42 survived. Of all my family in Poland, I was the only survivor.” Thankfully, he went on to marry, have children and have a long life.
Six million did not. Today, there are those for whom the Holocaust is not a horrible memory but a cherished dream. Because of them, millions who hate the Jewish people, Jews have a right to a home of their own. A Jewish state.
They have one. And they have a right to keep it.