This week, Israel celebrates its 63rd birthday. Sixty-three years ago, May 14, 1948, was the rebirth of one of the oldest cultures and nations in history,
the State of Israel. Israel with Judaism as its religion has historical continuity spanning more than 3,000 years. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions, and the oldest to survive into the present day. Israel today is a unique and diverse Jewish state with a young viable democracy, in an unstable region. In 2010, the world Jewish population was estimated at 13.4 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population.
The circumstances surrounding Israel’s re-birth were anything but easy. Regrettably, Israel’s journey from her early beginning to the present has been fraught with great suffering. It is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people that they persisted in their valiant struggle to re-gather again in the land of their birth. Some even go as far as saying that Israel’s renaissance — after 3,000-years or so– was nothing short of miraculous.
The rebirth of Israel, in reality, is a culmination of thousands of years of gestation during which the Jewish people, dispersed throughout much of the world, endured immense degrees and varieties of suffering. The Nazi murderers and their collaborators capped the crimes committed against the Jewish people by brutally slaughtering six million innocent men, women and children.
We hardly can find countries that have gone out of existence for as long as 3,000 years and then reappeared and been reborn. Thus, it is indeed plausible to say that the rebirth of this magnificent culture, people and the land was truly a miracle.
In the ancient days, a noble and just Persian king, Cyrus the Great, rescued tens of thousands of Jewish people from captivity in a foreign land and empowered them to return home and build their sacred temple. By his action of freeing an entire people from captivity and restoring their rightful dignity, Cyrus the Great, the author of the first code of Human Rights, cemented a bond of friendship between the Jews and the Persians. It was the Just King’s way of setting the world on a course of freedom, equality, and justice for all people, irrespective of any and all considerations.
Israel has welcomed many Jews across the world, including the Iranian Jews who could no longer tolerate the rule of the oppressive venomous mullahs. These mullahs are indeed traitors to the lofty long-standing tradition and values championed by Cyrus the Great and revered by Persians throughout the ages. Israel also must be commended for affording millions of Israeli Arabs opportunities denied to them in many other lands.
Regrettably, the sworn enemy of the Iranian people and the Persian heritage (the Islamic Republic) also supports terrorism abroad. The Islamic regime has increased its support for groups that seek the destruction of Israel. These include the Lebanese Hezbollah and such Palestinian groups as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command. Israel has the right to defend herself from these brewing factions who want nothing short of obliteration of the Jewish state.
We should consider the rebirth of the Jewish State to be a blessing for the Muslims. Israel has provided the opportunity to show the world the results of the Jewish state of mind in action…a mind that yearns to be free, and a mind that longs to see that all humanity enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, said Tashbih Sayyed.
Israel’s fair treatment of the Iranian Baha’is in Israel is praiseworthy. This is a further testimony to their ability and willingness to live in harmony with any and all people. In Iran, the birthplace of the Baha’i faith, Baha’is are ruthlessly subjected to a form of gradual genocide by the cruel mullahs. Some Baha’is are executed for their faith, Baha’i children are denied university studies, Baha’i holy places destroyed and even their cemeteries are bulldozed, just to cite a few examples. By contrast, Israel has provided the Baha’is freedom to care for their holy places which were established in the Holy Land during the 19th century, long before Israel’s rebirth.
The Jewish community of Iran is one of the oldest in the Diaspora, and its historical roots reach back to the 6th century B.C.E., the time of the First Temple. Their history in the pre-Islamic period is intertwined with that of the Jews of neighboring Babylon. The Jewish colonies were scattered from centers in Babylon to Persian provinces and cities such as Hamadan and Susa. The books of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel give a favorable description of the relationship of the Jews to the court of the Achaemids at Susa.
To this day, traditional Jews pray three times a day for the Temple’s restoration. During the centuries the Muslims controlled Palestine and two mosques were built on the site of the Jewish Temple. (This was no coincidence; it is a common Islamic custom to build mosques on the sites of other people’s holy places.) Since any attempt to level these mosques would lead to an international Muslim holy war (jihad) against Israel, the Temple cannot be rebuilt in the foreseeable future.
"Next year in Jerusalem being the wish of Diaspora Jews, dispersed from their homeland yet acknowledging their spiritual and historical home is Israel, specifically, Jerusalem. Psalm 137 referred to as the well-known lament of the Babylonian Jews who wept ‘by the rivers of Babylon’ and declared, ‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither."
The perennial prayer, "Next Year in Jerusalem" has finally been answered. We, the spiritual children of Cyrus the Great pray that Israel succeeds in taking the steps necessary for making the New Jerusalem a place of hope and lasting safety for the Jewish people as well as people of all religions and those with no religion at all.
Although Israel was reborn in 1948, the Israelis were unable to settle down for long in their own homeland, to worship their God as they wished, and to live in peace. They were assaulted once again by the forces of destruction that sent them scurrying for the relative safety of other lands. These challenges continue to this day.
Now, Israel is a sovereign state but hardly safe. She is surrounded by nations and peoples who are bent on her destruction. It is tragic that her neighbors and she have not been able to find an equitable way of living side-by-side with mutual respect and in peace. I earnestly hope that ways can be found for a peaceful resolution to this destructive impasse.
A thorny issue of great concern to Israel is the Mullahs’ gallop to join the nuclear club and use the bomb as a club over the head of any nation, near or far, that stands in their way or does not accede to their demands. And it is here that some advocated a pre-emptive action by Israel, the U.S., or both to postpone, if not prevent the Mullahs from achieving their objective.
For example, attacking the Bushehr nuclear facility alone would be a nightmare, releasing radiation into the atmosphere. To attack Iran’s nuclear facilities will not only provoke unnecessary war, but it could also unleash clouds of radiation far beyond the targets and the borders of Iran. In addition, it is almost a certainty that the Islamic Republic would retaliate by hitting Israel’s Dimona nuclear complex. Everyone loses.
The best strategy that stands the greatest chance of success and entails the least risk of starting a cataclysmic chain reaction is for a "coalition of the willing," to borrow a phrase, to rally behind the Iranian opposition. It is the democracy-seeking secular Iranians who are thoroughly capable of dislodging the tyrannical Mullahs.
We should also keep in mind that Iran sits on many large and active fault lines. Of the major earthquakes that do occur in Iran, a good many are stronger than magnitude 6 on the Richter scale. Should, say, the Bushehr plant be hit by an earthquake, it will be catastrophic, not only to the entire region, but beyond.
Today, Israel has reunited Jerusalem and provided unrestricted freedom of religion. Access of all faiths to the Holy Places in the unified City of Peace is assured. The story of the rebirth of Israel is indeed a miracle, yet challenges have remained, challenges that threaten the existence of this tiny ancient country filled with a rich culture.
As we watch, we pray for Israel and the Jewish people, for an everlasting peace and prosperity.
However, it really doesn’t make any difference whether you are pro-Israel or not. If another holocaust looms, it leaves Israel with no alternatives but to lash out without pause or restraint at those who wish to destroy the Jewish State.