Linda Downing

Happy 65th to Israel

On May 14, 1948, Israel became an independent nation. The official celebration of its 65th year already took place on April 15 and 16 because it follows the lunar Hebrew calendar. So, I offer a belated “Happy Birthday” to the biblical center of the earth.
Understanding Israel's history is the key to the Bible's mysteries, both Old and New Testaments. The God claiming to speak to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the founding fathers of Israel, cannot be excluded from the story. The recognition of the modern nation demands we not mythologize its call and purpose on the world's stage.
A light that often appears as darkness shines upon this country. The hatred Israel draws defies logic. The world's most ancient empires despised, attacked, and bound the land and its people: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In the A.D. world the Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks (Turks), Crusaders, Mamluks (Egyptians) and, perhaps the most heinous of all, Hitler's Third Reich, all did their damage.
In 1922 the newly-formed League of Nations issued the Balfour Declaration, mandating Great Britain to establish a Jewish homeland. WWII intervened, a demon-inspired time preceded by the world's nations enforcing immigration quotas blocking many of Europe's Jews from escaping persecution. One-third, 5.8 million, of the world's Jewish people were murdered.
In 1947 the United Nations partitioned Israel; 1948 saw its reality. Almost immediately, Israel was attacked and has known few times of peace since. Six episodes escalated to war status:
1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and 2006.
We rarely go a week without Israel being in the news. The persistence and brilliance of the Jewish people produces agricultural advancements, medical discoveries, and unparalleled military tactics. In 2010 Israeli archaeologists discovered ancient, human teeth thought to be twice as old as any found previously. This could mean modern man originated in Israel.
Rights to the Old City of Jerusalem continue to be a block to those who say they seek peace and the formation of a Palestinian state. Unprejudiced history falls on the side of Israel. For several decades archaeological digs underneath the Temple Mount have provided proof of Jewish occupation going back more than 2,000 years. In 2011 Israeli experts completed a $5 million restoration of the walls that detail the city's whole history.
Giving up land for peace is not working for Israel. Gaza fired two rockets even while President Obama visited in April. As of May 6 Israel, protecting its northern border, carried out two airstrikes against Syria. The Associated Press called it “an unprecedented escalation of Israeli involvement in the Syrian civil war.” The coalition of Syria and Iran and its vow to annihilate Israel, Syria's use of chemical weapons, are plain and getting plainer.
True love for Israel is based on knowledge, not sentimentalism. Christians believe Jesus' words that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), that knowing what that means is a matter of life and death. Even those disdaining what they call “religious nonsense” ought to be able to acknowledge and say, “Happy 65th, Israel.” History bears evidence that the country is, in fact, millenniums older than that and vitally important to us all.

Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together—side-by-side.

Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at