By Michael Kuttner…
“Independence is never given to a People – it has to be earned and once earned must be defended.”
This quote from Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first President and head of State since the Roman illegal occupation of the Jewish homeland succinctly sums up the situation which confronted us seventy years ago. If ever a group warranted restoration to their own territory it was and is the Jewish People.
Looking back at the events which culminated in restored sovereignty it is obvious that the nations of the world at the time never expected the Jewish remnants of the Shoah to survive the onslaught of its Arab neighbours.
Historic as the UN decision may have been the stark fact remains that almost without exception nobody had any confidence that a handful of rag tag Jews bereft of weapons and military knowhow and confined into a miniscule piece of territory grudgingly allotted to them could hold off let alone push back the hordes poised to finish them off. The declarations of hateful intent issued by Arab leaders left no doubt as to their final solution.
Having rejected the opportunity of creating an Arab State alongside the Jewish State, in favour of a genocidal campaign the Arab/Islamic world set a precedent for the next seventy years. At the end of the day when miraculously the Jews thwarted the murderous plans the blame game commenced and has continued to this very day.
The contrast between the new State and those plotting to destroy it could not have been greater. While we created and built, our adversaries destroyed and plundered. In the 1920’s a campaign undertaken by the Zionists of America to assist chalutzim (these days derisively called settlers in certain quarters) was promoted with the slogan “let us rise up and build.”
That exactly exemplified Weizmann’s statement. Despite no prospect of independence young men and women rolled up their sleeves, subjected themselves to every form of physical danger and disease, braved the harsh elements and the opposition of British authorities to lay the foundations of a modern, thriving future Jewish nation.
In contrast the Arabs of mandated Palestine who refused to call themselves “Palestinians” used every violent means to prevent and frustrate the Jewish revival. Terror attacks against property and people predated any so called “occupation” and with the declaration of independence in 1948 the new State in its truncated armistice lines became “occupied” as far as our neighbours were concerned.
For the last 70 years in one form or another we have faced boycotts, terror, wars and a continual campaign of lies and delegitimization.
The tragedy of the situation is brought home to each and every Israeli on Yom Hazikaron when we pause to honour and remember the over 26,000 individuals, civilians and military, who have fallen in battle and have been murdered by terrorists since the start of the resettlement of our country to the present moment.
The numbers who have been injured (some for life), including women, small children and babies, is incalculable. Those who believe that this hate will prevent the rebuilding of our ancient homeland are delusional. After millennia of pogroms, ghettos, yellow stars and theologically inspired libels, culminating in the Shoah, we have finally arrived at a time when we can and must defend ourselves.
It was the sacrifice of those defending Israel from numerous attempts to wipe us out that enabled us to reach the situation we face today. Current plotters of evil against the Jewish State will find that the start up nation is no longer an easy target and that they tangle with it at their own peril.
This is a land of miracles but we cannot always rely on them alone. We also have to contribute our own resources and ingenuity and this is exactly what has sustained us over 70 years. Survivors of the Holocaust could never in their wildest dreams have ever imagined that one day Israel air force planes would fly in formation over Auschwitz and that thousands of youth proudly waving Israeli flags would participate in a March of the Living in Poland.
Not a single individual alive in 1948 could have envisaged that from an impoverished land where rationing of basic items was the norm and the landscape was predominantly arid, in seven decades the country would be transformed beyond recognition.
All of the achievements in every field of endeavour are as the result of hard work and a determination to build and progress. No other country has proportionally taken in so many immigrants from every corner of the globe and successfully integrated them into the dynamic society Israel has become.
Of course there are problems still to be solved. The rebuilding of Israel is an ongoing process hampered unfortunately by the necessity to devote so many of its scarce resources to defense and security.
If the fake “Palestinians” and their cheer leaders would have devoted a fraction of their own unlimited resources to constructive efforts they too could have achieved something much better than the miserable situation they now find themselves in.
Blaming others for their self inflicted misfortunes, spreading wild conspiracies, inculcating new generations with hateful demonization of Jews and supporting terror unfortunately is the continuing agenda. This why while Israelis win Nobel Prizes, lead the world in many fields, innovate and make the world a better place, our detractors wallow in self pity and bitterness.
This Yom Ha’Atzmaut will be special because not only does it celebrate 70 years of miraculous achievements but it also will be followed by celebrations for 51 years as a reunified Capital and then finally the relocation of America’s Embassy to Jerusalem. This latter event will hopefully be the catalyst for other countries to do the same. No doubt the usual suspects will rant, rave and resort to violence.
We will however redouble our efforts to rise up and build while they rise up and try to destroy.
At the end of the day it is the builders and innovators who will win out and succeed while those promoting “nakba” (catastrophe) who will always fail.
Chag Ha’Atzmaut Sameach.
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.]