YOM HA’ATZMAUT 5778: HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY ISRAEL!

Celebrating Israel at 70: David Harris, Algemeiner, Apr. 17, 2018— Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary this month.

Israel Proves Exceptional, Once Again: Evelyn Gordon, JNS, Apr. 11, 2018 — In January 2017, the Ipsos Mori research company published a shocking poll headlined “Six in ten around the world think their society is ‘broken.’ ”

How an ‘Iron Wall’ Has Slowly But Surely Made Israel Invincible: Zev Chafets, National Post, Apr. 19, 2018 — In the run-up to this week’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, Israel Defense Forces chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot pronounced the country “invincible.”

Noted Historian on Israel’s 70th Birthday: Justice Is on Jewish State’s Side: Benjamin Kerstein, Algemeiner, Apr. 18, 2018 — At 70 years old, the State of Israel has grown up, and might be unrecognizable to those who founded it.

 

On Topic Links

 

On Israel’s 70th Anniversary, Netanyahu Says ‘We’re Just Getting Started’ (Video): Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2018

Trump on Israel’s 70th Anniversary: US Has ‘No Better Friend Anywhere’: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2018

A Gift for Israel’s Birthday: a Legal Summary of its Clear Legitimacy: Barbara Kay, National Post, Apr. 17, 2018

New York Times Greets Israel’s 70th With Piece Claiming 1948 Was ‘Catastrophe’: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Apr. 18, 2018

Celebrating Israel at 70: David Harris, Algemeiner, Apr. 17, 2018

 

CELEBRATING ISRAEL AT 70

David Harris

Algemeiner, Apr. 17, 2018

Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary this month. Let me put my cards on the table — I’m not dispassionate when it comes to Israel. For centuries, Jews around the world prayed for a return to Zion. We are the lucky ones who have seen those prayers answered: The establishment of the state in 1948; the fulfillment of its envisioned role as home and haven for Jews from anywhere and everywhere; its wholehearted embrace of democracy and the rule of law; and its impressive scientific, cultural, and economic achievements are extraordinary accomplishments.

And when one adds that Israel’s neighbors tried from day one to annihilate it, the story of Israel’s first 70 years becomes all the more remarkable. No other country has faced such overwhelming odds against its very survival, or experienced the same degree of never-ending international demonization by too many nations ready to throw integrity and morality to the wind.

Yet Israelis have never succumbed to a fortress mentality, never abandoned their deep yearning for peace or their willingness to take unprecedented risks to achieve that peace. This was the case with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and one day, let’s hope, a deal with the Palestinians — if and when their leadership finally accepts the reality of Israel and the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination.

To be sure, nation-building is an infinitely complex process. In Israel’s case, it began against a backdrop of tensions with a local Arab population that laid claim to the very same land and tragically refused a UN proposal in 1947 to divide it into Arab and Jewish states (the original two-state solution). This also took place as the Arab world sought to isolate, demoralize, and ultimately destroy the state. At the same time, Israel was forced to devote a vast portion of its limited national budget to defense expenditures, even as it coped with forging a national identity and social consensus among a geographically, linguistically, socially, and culturally diverse population.

Like any vibrant democracy, Israel is a permanent work in progress. To be sure, it has its shortcomings, including the excessive and unholy intrusion of religion into politics, the inexcusable marginalization of non-Orthodox Jewish religious streams, and the unfinished, if undeniably complex, task of integrating Israeli Arabs into the mainstream. But such challenges, important as they are, cannot be allowed to overshadow Israel’s remarkable achievements.

In just 70 years, Israel has established a thriving democracy unique in the region. This includes a Supreme Court prepared to overrule the prime minister or the military establishment, a feisty parliament that includes every imaginable viewpoint, a robust civil society, and a vigorous press. Israel has built an enviable economy, increasingly based on mind-blowing innovation and cutting-edge technology, whose per capita GNP far exceeds the combined total of its four contiguous sovereign neighbors — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. It has joined the OECD, become a global hub of research and development, and is a magnet for foreign direct investment.

It is home to universities and research centers that have contributed to advancing the world’s frontiers of knowledge in countless ways and won a slew of Nobel Prizes in the process. It has created one of the world’s most powerful militaries — always under civilian control — to ensure its survival in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood. At the same time, it strives to adhere to a strict code of military conduct that has few rivals in the democratic world, much less elsewhere, even as its enemies send children to the front lines and seek cover in mosques, schools, and hospitals.

It is ranked among the world’s healthiest nations, with a life expectancy higher than that of the US — not to mention a consistent top ranking in the annual world “happiness index.” It has forged a thriving culture admired far beyond Israel’s borders, and has lovingly taken an ancient language — Hebrew, the language of the prophets — and rendered it modern to accommodate the vocabulary of the contemporary world…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

ISRAEL PROVES EXCEPTIONAL, ONCE AGAIN

Evelyn Gordon

JNS, Apr. 11, 2018

In January 2017, the Ipsos Mori research company published a shocking poll headlined “Six in ten around the world think their society is ‘broken.’ ” Out of 23 countries surveyed—13 Western democracies and 10 non-Western democracies, most with relatively strong economies—only in six did a majority of respondents disagree with that statement. Moreover, almost four in 10 respondents agreed another troubling claim: “These days I feel like a stranger in my own country.” Though the proportion topped 50 percent in only two countries, it exceeded a third in all but three.

Pollsters then asked several questions designed to elaborate on those general sentiments—some exploring trust in national institutions and others exploring attitudes toward immigration. Their theory was that low trust in institutions would correlate to high levels of belief that society was broken, while negative attitudes toward immigrants would correlate to high levels of feeling like a stranger in one’s own country. And there was, in fact, some correlation, albeit not perfect. Notably, countries with both high trust in institutions and low concern about immigration had among the fewest respondents saying either that society was broken or that they felt like strangers in their own land.

And then there was the one glaring exception: Israel. A majority of Israeli respondents voiced little or no confidence in all seven categories of institutions—international institutions, banks, the justice system, big companies, the media, the government and political parties. In five of the seven categories, more than 70 percent did so. Israel was among the top 10 most distrustful countries in all but one category; in most, it was in the top six. Yet when it came to the summary question of whether society was broken, Israel suddenly plummeted to the bottom of the negativity rankings, with only 32 percent of Israelis agreeing (Japan and India, at 31 percent and 32 percent, respectively, were in a statistical tie with Israel for the bottom slot).

The same thing happened on questions about immigration, which Israeli respondents almost certainly interpreted as referring to non-Jewish immigrants (the ostensibly neutral Hebrew word for immigration, hagira, is actually used only for non-Jews; Jewish immigration, for which Israeli support has traditionally been high, is called aliyah). Israel was among the six most immigrant-averse countries in all four categories: belief that employers should prioritize hiring locals over immigrants, concern about immigrants’ impact on social/public services, concern about their impact on jobs and opposition to uncontrolled immigration.

Yet when it came to the question about feeling like a stranger in your own country, Israel again suddenly plummeted to the bottom of the negativity rankings, with just 20 percent of Israelis agreeing. Only Japan, at 14 percent, was lower.

Two factors help explain Israel’s exceptionalism in this poll. One is simply that complaining is Israel’s national sport; Israelis routinely gripe about every aspect of their country. Many of those grievances relate to real problems. Nevertheless, the reality is rarely anywhere near as bad their complaints make it sound (a fact that American Jews, who often accept the Israeli left’s complaints at face value, should bear in mind).

Indeed, Israel’s flourishing economy, high standard of living, and high levels of both personal security and personal freedom are all testaments to the fact that its institutions aren’t nearly as dysfunctional as Israelis deemed them in this poll. Countries with truly dysfunctional institutions rarely score well on any of these fronts. And despite their complaints, Israelis actually do know this. That’s why Israel consistently ranks as the 11th happiest country in the U.N.’s annual “World Happiness Report,” and why on overall assessments of the country—like whether society is broken or whether people feel like strangers in their own land—Israelis were far more upbeat than respondents in most other countries Ipsos Mori surveyed.

But there’s also a deeper reason. Israelis understand that there is only one Jewish state, and for all its flaws, its very existence is something precious and worth preserving. That’s why 90 percent of Israelis define themselves as Zionist. For Zionism, at bottom, is simply the belief that the Jewish people has a right to its own state, and that a Jewish state therefore ought to exist. This has enabled Israel to escape one of the modern West’s besetting ills. In a world where elite opinion scorns both religion and the nation-state as anachronistic but has failed to provide any compelling source of identity to replace them, many Westerners have grown increasingly unsure of their identities. Hence, it’s no surprise that they feel like strangers in their own land—or as if their societies were broken.

Israelis, in contrast, are very confident of their identity: They are Jews living in the world’s only Jewish state. Thus, it’s impossible for most Israeli Jews to feel like strangers in their own country; this is the state created precisely so that all Jews, anywhere, will always have a home. []Similarly, it’s difficult for most to feel that their society is broken when, against all odds, it has not only successfully maintained the first Jewish state in two millennia, but also turned it, in 70 short years, into one of the world’s most thriving countries. Israel has successfully absorbed Jewish refugees from all over the world and continues to provide an insurance policy for Diaspora Jews nervous about their own countries’ future. It has built one of the world’s 20 wealthiest economies per capita. It has maintained a robust democracy despite being at war since its inception. And its growing economic, military and diplomatic clout led American analysts Walter Russell Mead and Sean Keeley to rank it last year as one of the world’s eight great powers.

Thus, despite arguing bitterly over what policies their country should pursue and complaining endlessly about its many shortcomings, Israelis are overwhelmingly glad that a Jewish state exists, and committed to both preserving and improving it. And that’s why most will be celebrating on Israeli Independence Day … Because the very existence of a Jewish state, whatever its flaws, is grounds for rejoicing—and all the more so when that state has so many real achievements to celebrate.

Contents

   

HOW AN ‘IRON WALL’ HAS SLOWLY

BUT SURELY MADE ISRAEL INVINCIBLE

Zev Chafets                                      

National Post, Apr. 19, 2018

In the run-up to this week’s 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence, Israel Defense Forces chief of Staff Gen. Gadi Eisenkot pronounced the country “invincible.” This was a bold statement. The country faces a growing threat from Iran and its puppets in Lebanon and Gaza, and the possibility of a clash with Russia over Syria. And yet, few Israelis have disagreed with this assessment.

There is mood of confidence here, and its origin lies in a doctrine of strategic defence that has proven itself over nearly a century of intermittent warfare. That doctrine was first enunciated in a 1923 article titled “The Iron Wall” by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a visionary Zionist leader and the ideological father of the Likud. The Jews of Palestine were then a small, embattled minority. Only three years had passed since the first Arab riots in Jerusalem against them. The Jewish community’s socialist leaders hoped they could appease Arab enmity by offering economic co-operation, progress and prosperity.

Jabotinsky derided this as childish, and insulting to the Arabs, who would not barter away their homeland for more bread or modern railroads. They would, he said, resist while they had a spark of hope of preventing a Jewish state. “There is only one thing the Zionists want, and that is the one thing the Arabs do not want,” he wrote. Nothing short of abandoning the Zionist project would placate Arab hostility and violence. If the Jews wanted to remain, they would have to come to terms with a harsh reality: this was a zero-sum game. There could be no peace until the Arabs accepted Israel’s right to exist.

Jabotinsky saw that the Arabs (in Palestine and beyond) were far too numerous to be defeated in a single decisive war. The Jews needed to erect an iron wall of self-defence and deterrence — a metaphorical wall built of Jewish determination, immigration, material progress, strong democratic institutions and a willingness to fight. Gradually, the enemy would be forced to conclude that this wall could not be breached. The Iron Wall concept was intended to deter aggression until psychological victory was won, and extremists, “whose watchword is ‘Never!’,” were replaced by more moderate leaders willing to live peacefully with a Jewish state.

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, despised Jabotinsky and his political heir, the future prime minister Menachem Begin. He certainly rejected their ideological commitment to a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River. In 1947, he accepted a two-state partition. The Arabs of Palestine, and their allies in the Arab world, rejected it. The war that followed created the Jewish state, but as Jabotinsky had predicted, the Arabs refused to accept it. Ben-Gurion came to the reluctant conclusion that his rival’s doctrine — deterrence by gradual demoralization of the enemy — was correct. In 1953, Ben-Gurion essentially adopted this concept (without, of course, crediting Jabotinsky). Israel would be forced to fight a long, existential war composed of many small wars. It must win each time, and use the interim to strengthen the national wall of iron by cultivating Israel’s advantages in human resources, technology and military experience.

Egypt, Jordan and Syria bounced off the Iron Wall in the Six Day War of 1967. That was enough for Jordan, which withdrew permanently from armed conflict with Israel. But in 1973, Egypt and Syria tried again, launching a surprise attack that caught the IDF completely unprepared. It was their last best shot and it failed. Israel did not crumble. Four years later, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem and cut a deal with Begin. A few years later, King Hussein of Jordan followed. The rest of the Arab states have gradually come to terms with the permanence of Israel…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

             

NOTED HISTORIAN ON ISRAEL’S 70TH BIRTHDAY:

JUSTICE IS ON JEWISH STATE’S SIDE

Benjamin Kerstein

Algemeiner, Apr. 18, 2018

At 70 years old, the State of Israel has grown up, and might be unrecognizable to those who founded it. From a relatively barren imperial backwater, it has become a flourishing, vibrant and innovative regional leader. From a population of 500,000, it is now home to over 8 million people. From a tiny nation fighting for its life, it has become a military power. And from a socialist-dominated one-party state, it has become a thriving capitalist democracy. Yet, a leading Israeli historian told The Algemeiner this week, in many ways Israel has not changed at all. Its core national identity as a Jewish state remains as strong as it ever was.

“Obviously Israel has changed,” said Efraim Karsh, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and a professor emeritus of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London. “First of all it has increased in a way no other Western or developed nation has grown over this period. I mean, more than tenfold. Then of course, the different kinds of populations that arrived. Essentially from predominantly European-based Jews to those who arrived from other nations — many were expelled in the Independence War and then immediately afterwards — some expelled in the ’50s, and then in the mid-’60s from North Africa, then later on you have the large Russian immigration, and then of course the Ethiopians.”

“Israel is a melting pot,” Karsh stated, “and on the whole I think it has been a success story. And I think in a way it’s remarkable, because you don’t have many societies, Western or otherwise, absorbing huge populations several times their size and doing it in such a successful way that eventually, with all the difficulties and the grievances of certain communities at certain times, it is relatively a highly equal society. “So I think in this respect, yes, Israel has changed,” he continued. “But, on the whole, not for the worse. On the contrary, you have an Israeli identity developing over the time that crystallizes all of the different sections.”

Asked whether the identity of the Israeli sabra, the native-born, muscular “new Jew” of Israel’s founding era, still exists, Karsh says, “Yes, there is the sabra, but the sabra is different today than it was before. You could say it’s become more Mediterranean, more eastern than it used to be. But definitely the Israeli sabra is a unique identity. If you go to many Jewish communities around the world, you can see for all the similarities and all the attachments between Jewish communities and Israel, the Israelis have their own identity.”

“So I don’t think the sabra has disappeared,” he went on to say. “They have changed in certain ways. You know, I’m not one of these people who looks nostalgically at the past and says, ‘Oh, our generation was better.’ I think they are very good in their own way. Of course, they are different because the world has changed. You live in a different age. When I grew up in Israel, we didn’t even have a telephone. Only in the ’50s. Television came only after the Six-Day War. … Today the world is open. I mean people go around the world much more freely. You have the internet.”

“So, of course, the young generation is different,” Karsh pointed out. “You can say in certain ways it’s more individualistic than we used to be. You cannot educate them the way they educated us. But when the moment of truth comes, or you see moments of difficulties, you see that there is social cohesion. We all feel a shared destiny, a shared history.”

Karsh has been a longtime critic of Israel’s “new historians,” a group of Israeli intellectuals — mostly on the left — who in the 1990s began to adopt the Palestinian narrative of Israel’s history. Asked whether the new historians’ revisionism has changed Israeli culture and society, Karsh replied this only took place in academia, and was driven by a reaction to widespread hostility toward the Jewish state. “Israel is a Jewish state, the only Jewish state in the world, and the only Jewish state that has existed for thousands of years,” he said. “And as such, it carries the very difficult burden of the Jewish people, which is mostly unpleasant. And it’s going to continue like this. For academics it’s much easier to join the gang.”

Karsh’s hope, he states, lies with Israel’s youth. “I hope it is the young generation that will keep on fighting,” he said. “Because in the final account, the story is quite straightforward. Justice is on Israel’s side in this respect.” As a historian with intimate knowledge of the grand sweep of Israeli history, Karsh remains a cautious optimist about the country’s future. “I am a realist,” he said. “I think Israel will never be left alone. It will continue to carry the burden. So it’s not like people say, ‘Ok, you will have peace with the Palestinians tomorrow, if you give them every last inch of the West Bank’ — it’s not going to resolve the problem. They’re going to continue to ask for more. And then you can give them the Galilee, and then they’ll ask for more. So I don’t think the Israeli-Palestinian problem will be resolved.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

On Topic Links

On Israel’s 70th Anniversary, Netanyahu Says ‘We’re Just Getting Started’ (Video): Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2018—“Israel’s success didn’t happen overnight,” Netanyahu said, pointing out that all Israelis – ranging the gamut from young and old, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, religious and secular – men and women have worked hard to build the nation.

Trump on Israel’s 70th Anniversary: US Has ‘No Better Friend Anywhere’: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2018—U.S. President Donald Trump sent his congratulations to the State of Israel on the eve of its 70th Independence Day celebrations with a special tweet.

A Gift for Israel’s Birthday: a Legal Summary of its Clear Legitimacy: Barbara Kay, National Post, Apr. 17, 2018—Israel’s 70th birthday will be celebrated Thursday. Note the passive voice. I would have preferred “the world will join in celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday,” but immediately saw its impossibility.

New York Times Greets Israel’s 70th With Piece Claiming 1948 Was ‘Catastrophe’: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Apr. 18, 2018—The New York Times is marking Israel’s 70th birthday with an op-ed piece describing the Jewish state’s creation as a “catastrophe.” The article also offers a historically false account of events in Haifa in 1948.