A Muslim Celebrates Israel’s 60th Birthday
Do yourselves a favor and read this fantastic op-ed by Salim Mansur, a Muslim associate professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario.
The 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth is a milestone as was every other such anniversary going back to that defining moment for Jews and non-Jews alike when David Ben-Gurion proclaimed independence of the Jewish state in Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948.
After nearly two millenniums of wandering in strange lands — following destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by the Romans and forced exile from the land of their prophets — the birth of Israel has offered Jews a secure home where they may prosper without any fear or apology.
Israel’s birth was assisted by Britain, joined by France, which carved Arab states in lands that were provinces of the Ottoman Empire. If Israel had been born 10 years earlier then a great many Jews who perished in Hitler’s death camps likely would have survived and Britain’s eventual withdrawal from the region probably would have been less acrimonious.
For Ben-Gurion’s generation Israel’s birth was a small promise made even smaller by the UN partitioning British-mandated Palestine, and then arriving so terribly late, even as smoke from the ruins of war-devastated Europe hid the full disclosure of the Jewish devastation in the Holocaust.
There is no parallel in modern history to the story of Israel defying the rancour of old and new enemies of Jews.
This is the story of a people about whom it can truly be said are indestructible despite whatever their enemies have thrown at them.
The present world population is over six and a half billion people, and Jews are an insignificant fraction of this number, estimated somewhere around 14 million, or a mere 0.2% of the total.
Yet Jewish contributions in the making of the modern world tower above that of any other people in relative terms and the immense odds of survival as a people given the level of hostility directed at them.
From imagining the fundamentals of monotheism to conceiving the fundamentals of space-time relativity of modern physics, Jews have been an immensely creative people through nearly four millenniums of human history.
Their achievements have earned them admiration, envy and implacable enmity of non-Jews.
But Jews have survived through the ages. They first entered recorded history in pagan times while their contemporaries — the ancient Hittites, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Philistines and the Phoenicians — have vanished totally.
Of the ancient peoples from the age of Moses only the Egyptians, the Hindus and the Chinese survive, but their culturally dynamic moment as civilizations lie in the past. And of these three people from ancient times, Egyptians became Arabized as most of them converted to Islam and disowned their pre-Islamic culture.
Israel is a tiny sliver of land in a vast tempest-ridden sea of the Arab-Muslim world, and yet it is here the ancient world’s most enduring story is made fresh again by Jews to live God’s covenant with Abraham as told in their sacred literature.
Jewish survival as a people maybe providential, but turning a desert into one of the rich economies of the world few imagined six decades ago is a minor proof of how much more could be achieved if those fighting Jews joined with them instead by turning their swords into plowshares.
Happy anniversary, Israel.