At least once a year on Yom Ha’Atzmaut those of us privileged to be living in the re-established Jewish Homeland can rejoice and give thanks for the wondrous miracles granted to us in our life time… writes Michael Kuttner.
After two thousand years of exile during which apart from a few short periods of temporary tolerance witnessed the most horrendous persecutions the Jewish People have come home to the Land promised to our forebears.
Not a single person who lived through the Shoah years would ever in their wildest dreams have ever imagined that they might live to see the restoration of Jewish sovereignty and the subsequent flourishing of a vibrant nation. The survivors of the camps who eventually found refuge here despite the best efforts of the British Mandatory authorities to deny them joining their brethren are still in awe at what has been achieved in such a short space of time and despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Many of today’s generation of youngsters take it all for granted and the challenge we face is to instill in them a sense of history and awareness of where we would likely be if not for the sacrifices and heroism of our pioneers and settlers. From an arid wasteland to a world leader in agricultural techniques for defeating the desert, Israel is helping less developed nations to become self sustainable in food production. Thanks to the back breaking labour of those who established Kibuutzim and Moshavim and others who drained malarial swamps and settled areas which had not seen Jewish habitation since Biblical times the landscape has transformed beyond all recognition.
Jewish ingenuity plus brains and brawn has seen a country which was neglected and backward a mere seven decades ago become a medical pioneer bringing state of the art medicine and scientific innovations to not only all its citizens regardless of ethnicity but also is leading the way forward in the combating and eliminating of a myriad of diseases which plague humanity.
The necessity to defend ourselves and ensure that those who threaten us are never again able to carry out their nefarious designs has resulted in the development of space age technology which places Israel at the cutting edge of weapons development. At the same time and in order to keep several steps ahead of those who wish us harm the country has established world renowned security organizations, feared by our enemies and admired by those who realize that appeasement of bullies is a losing proposition.
As a refuge for persecuted Jews and those fleeing discrimination and deprivation, Israel remains the sole place where living openly, proudly and practicing Judaism needs no apology. Rescuing endangered Jews as well as welcoming and integrating all those who come back home has come at an enormous economic cost. Some query whether given the current success of Israel in a multitude of fields financial assistance and donations are truly necessary. The answer is a resounding yes. As a huge part of its resources are used for security related matters there is still not enough left over to provide affordable housing, social welfare, education and health related funding. No other country has had to shoulder the burden of starting from scratch and at the same time tackle terror groups and their supporters from day one.
It was obvious from the very beginning that a reluctant international community never wholeheartedly endorsed the concept of restored Jewish sovereignty. At the same time it became clearly evident that no country was enthusiastic about admitting Jewish refugees in any large numbers. In one of those unpredictable miracles in 1947 Stalin’s virulent anti Jewish Kremlin actually voted in favour of a Jewish State but realizing after 1948 that the Jews were not about to embrace his twisted version of Soviet “democracy” soon recanted and instead became a strong supporter of Arab terrorism.
If there is one abiding lesson which most of us have learnt it is that when it comes to the crunch, Jews and Israel stand alone in the fight against delegitimization. Even our staunchest ally, the USA, which provides immeasurable amount of economic and military assistance, cannot be relied upon if and when the inevitable show down arrives. In every major war of defense which we have faced since 1948 the so called democracies of the USA, UK and Europe have either been neutral at best or hostile at worst. Even in 1973 Golda Meir had to beg the US Administration to belatedly send extra munitions to counter the massive amounts of weapons being airlifted to Arab countries by the Soviet Union.
From 1948 to 1967 Israel faced an indifferent UN as Jordan illegally occupied Judea, Samaria and half of our Capital. They did nothing while Syria bombarded our residents in the Galilee from the Golan. This week marks 60 years since Adolf Eichmann was put on trial in Jerusalem. Reading the outraged reactions of the international community to his capture encapsulates precisely why Israel can never rely on others to obtain any sort of justice. The very countries which gave sanctuary and often subsequent employment to Nazi war criminals after the war have no moral right to judge and censure Israel.
If this country was to put its faith of survival in the duplicitous hands of those whose knee jerk reaction would be to run to the UN, UNHRC and the ICC, we would be doomed before the first Iranian missile had even left its launching pad. One has only to look at the sorry situation of South Korea and Taiwan to understand what happens when action does not meet rhetoric. A total failure to thwart North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and Communist China’s declared intentions to invade Taiwan will inevitably result in tragedy.
As hate against Jews, most often disguised as anti Zionist/Israel slanders gains momentum, the deafening silence emanating from democratic capitals should teach us all a lesson. Take for example this latest contribution broadcast on Jordanian television and recorded courtesy of MEMRI:
Have you by any remote chance heard a condemnation from any UN member, UNHRC or the ICC? When the same sort of rubbish was being circulated by the Nazis in the six years leading up to the outbreak of hostilities and often times reprinted in newspapers sympathetic to their twisted cause very few came to the rescue of beleaguered Jewish communities.
It is precisely because that we urgently need to remember the misdeeds of the recent past and the fact that history does repeat itself that the necessity for a strong, vibrant and assertive Israel is such a vital necessity.
The phrase, never again, can only carry meaning and purpose if it is backed up in a tangible way.
That is why as we celebrate Yom Ha’Atzmaut this year we will give thanks that it has been our privilege to witness and take part in the rebirth and the rebuilding of Jewish life in the Land of our ancestors.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel.
[This article was originally published on J-Wire and is reproduced here with permission from Michael Kuttner.]