"Trusting in the Rock of Israel we now place our signatures in witness to this proclamation, sitting as the Provisional State Council, on the soil of the homeland, in the city of Tel-Aviv, this day, Friday afternoon, the 5th of Iyar, 5708, the 14th of May, 1948."
This was the moment of the re-birth of Israel announced by Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel. I would call your attention to the year of the Jewish calendar he cited, 5708. It reaches back over the millennia, deep into the Torah, the Old Testament, with its long history of a people chosen to be "a nation of priests and a holy people."
This fact alone eviscerates all arguments and lies put forth that the Jews do not have a right and a claim to their own homeland. Historians put the birth of Judaism at approximately two thousand years before the advent of Christianity. When the Roman Empire fell, it was restructured as the Holy Roman Empire with Christianity at its core. Jewish resistance to the Roman Empire shaped much of its early history.
At the heart of the Islamic protestations of modern Israel is their contempt for the two faiths that preceded their own that began in 622 A.D. By then Judaism was already a very ancient faith. To be anything other than a Muslim, then and now, was declared to belong to an inferior faith. Islam is distinguished by its inflexible fixation on Allah, a former moon god worshipped in Mecca, and the cult of Mohammed.
More than a billion of the world's population is Muslim. More than a billion is Christian. Billions believe in Hinduism and Buddhism. Judaism, which was never an evangelizing faith, existed in small numbers, but for reasons of faith, both Christianity and Islam persecuted the Jews in their midst because their very existence raised questions of spiritual legitimacy.
Throughout this long history, the Jews remained steadfast to their ancient faith under circumstances that would have destroyed a people less committed. In the last century, an evil so vast that it defies comprehension attempted to kill every Jew in Europe and Russia.
Out of the ashes of an estimated six million Jews the Zionist movement that had been established at the very end of the previous century reached its moment in history when a re-born nation of Israel was the sanctuary needed for the survivors and others who would flee persecution in Arab nations, in Russia, and elsewhere.
"After the people were forcibly exiled from their land," said Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948, "they kept the faith with it in all the lands of their dispersion, and never ceased praying and hoping to return to their land..."
Within hours of Ben-Gurion's announcement Israel was attacked by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. By June 11, 1948, a truce was arranged. Thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish volunteers had arrived from around the world. Hostilities resumed on July 8, but it went poorly for the Arabs as the Israelis won about 20% more territory than was originally granted.
There has never really been any peace since then. Several more wars and the Intifada declared by the Palestinians have been markers in Israel's short history. There has only been the tiresome demand that it return to 1967 borders. Even when Israel relinquished Gaza to the Palestinians, it has not stilled their rockets for a single day.
Today, Israel remains surrounded by its enemies, despite a peace accord with Egypt and Jordan. It remains a tiny nation and Jews worldwide remain a minority. These days Israel is directly threatened by two Palestinian entities, Hezbollah and Hamas, assisted by Syria, funded and armed by Iran, a nation led by men who promise to destroy Israel.
The failure of the Middle East as a society is the failure of Islam, a faith whose name translates as submission. The success of Israel is the success of Judaism, a religion whose believers have greatly blessed the modern world. It is the success as well of the support of Christians who are Judaism's spiritual heirs.
There are serious lessons to be drawn from this sixtieth anniversary and serious threats on the near horizon. If we permit the destruction of Israel, we nullify the values of both Judaism and Christianity. We put our souls at risk.