Much respect, Israel
by BRETT MARINO
Addressing the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. I want there to be no confusion on this point. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”
Netanyahu made this point in reference to the recent talks between President Obama and Iran’s new president. But the boldness of his remarks and general presence continually remind the world of Israel’s remarkable and very circumstantial existence.
Israel as a state and the Jews as a people are the exception of human history. Why? Because they have survived the ages.
The Jewish people trace their history back over 3,000 years as an organized people with a moral and civil law laid out in their Bible (In Christians terms, the first five books of the Old Testament). In pre-Christian times, ancient Israel constantly defended their borders against militant neighbors, suffered significant displacements of their people, and underwent major occupations of their state from foreign powers. The option to assimilate into the dominant culture of the day was always lucrative and a seemingly less painful experience; but as the chosen people of God, the leaders of the Jewish community refused to lose their cultural identity, and thus their people continued to unify themselves.
Even in the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and their forced Diaspora by the Roman Empire in the first century AD, the Jewish people showed their incredible tenacity by continuing their cultural heritage and ancient traditions, though they were forcefully removed from their homeland. For nearly 1,500 years the Jewish people wandered unknown lands and survived foreign cultures that repetitively persecuted them, attempted to assimilate them, and continually banished them from their temporary homes because they refused to become a culture that relinquished their former traditions.
The chosen people were never loved by the world, but they did find favor with God, and they continued to thrive during their wanderings throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the New World.
In the twentieth century, many Jews held privileged positions in European society, and the culture as a whole was deeply apart of all the technological innovations of the time. Jewish people like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were leading the charge in their respective fields of science. But anti-Semitic sentiment was still high, and then they endured the greatest horrors of the Second World War.
As the dust settled in Europe after the signed peace treaties, the Jewish people emerged as an ostracized but well organized community with some of the most knowledgeable scientists, bankers, soldiers and military personnel, politicians and writers who wanted nothing to do with Europe. Since the 19th century, there had been a movement for the Jewish people to return to their promised land called Zionism. As one can imagine, after WWII, this sentiment among Jew and Gentile was extremely high. With approval from the U.N. and American support, the war-hardened Jewish soldiers and state-builders proclaimed war against the majority Arab populace in 1948. The Arabs were no match and the war ended a year later. In that same year, the State of Israel began opening up its borders as hundreds of thousands of Jews began to pour in from all over the world. As more and more people began immigrating back to their homeland, the State of Israel grew and grew to what it has become today: A first world country with a highly advanced military, and though it is unofficial, the only state in that part of the world with nuclear capabilities.
Israel is a paradox of ancient culture and modern innovation whose legacy is the most unlikely story to fill the pages of history. But here they are, and they hold power.
So, when Netanyahu states that the State of Israel will stand alone on military decisions, or any other decision for that matter, it would behoove oneself not to take the threat lightly. They have been dreaming and defending that small slit of land on the Mediterranean longer than any other existing political structure in the world today. It is awe-inspiring and miraculous, but if nothing else, it is deserving of respect.
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