Since the birth of the Jews as a nation in ancient Egypt, enemies of the Jewish people have waged wars against them until today, 59 years after the reborn State of Israel survived the War of Independence. The Jews in Israel survived an onslaught from seven better-armed neighboring Arab armies who marched into the nascent state to annihilate any Jewish sovereign presence. The Arab states rejected a United Nations mandate to split Israel between a smaller Jewish state and a larger Trans-Jordan country.
'We have won before and we will win again'
"We have won before and we will win again, for we have no other choice," Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik said at the opening Independence Day celebrations Monday night in Jerusalem. We have been living for 59 years in a war, the end of which is not yet in sight.
"Residents of Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority: has there not been enough blood spilled, yours and ours? Replace your Katyushas and Kassams with computers and education, and finally, be rewarded with peace and quiet," she said. "Israel lives and lets live."
At the same hour she spoke, Arab terrorists attempted to fire another Kassam rocket on Israel. It backfired and exploded at the launching site. No one was injured.
The festivities began immediately after the torch-lighting ceremony at the conclusion of Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers
Former President Yitzhak Navon led the torch-bearers, who included Eliyahu Sakharov, an aide to the Haganah chief in the 1930s and Shulamit Cohen-Kishik, a Mossad agent from the late 1940s who helped bring persecuted Jews from Arab nations to Israel and escaped a death sentence in Beirut.
Other torch-bearers were world obstetrician/gynecologist Professor Joseph Shenkar of Hebrew University; actor Avinoam Mor-Haim, whose son Dvir was killed in Lebanon; former Lechi underground fighter Rachel Saad-Nakar; Holocaust survivor Mordechai Eliav, founder of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation; Uri Amadi, who works with eastern Jerusalem youth; Prof. Nava Ben Tzvi, founder of the Open university and president of Hadassah College; Jerusalem Foundation president Ruth Heshin; police sapper Yehuda Shriki; Kiryat Shmona police commander Faras Faraj; Yosef Lieberman, who served in almost every war; and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dor Yehuda, who volunteered in the Second Lebanon War last summer.
The view on Israel from Jews around the world
An Australian Jewish News column noted, "As Israel marks its 59th birthday, the Jewish State is caught between the celebration of its incredible achievements and the specter of a nuclear Iran vowing to “wipe it off the map”--not to mention a scandal-ridden public service, from the president and prime minister down.
"What Israel desperately needs--and doesn’t seem to have right now--is a leader who can resuscitate a belief in the true essence of Zionism, who can convince people that things can still change for the better and who, yes, can import some Diaspora optimism--especially the Australian brand--to offset the perpetually prevailing Israeli doom and gloom."
The Los Angeles Jewish Journal described the situation in Israel today with two caricatures--one of a birthday cake with the words "Peace Hopes" under the banner of Israel Independence Day, 2005, when the Sharon government expelled 10,000 Jews, destroyed their homes and communities and turned over the areas to the Palestinian Authority promising improved security for the Israeli citizens. The second picture shows a cake with a rocket stuck inside it and labeled "The next Hizbullah attack" under the banner Israel Independence Day, 2007.
An editorial in The New York Jewish Week stated, "Israelis are resilient, and whether one sees their modern history as miraculous or merely remarkable, the fact is that they have overcome horrific efforts to destroy them and have not only survived but thrived.... For its citizens and for so many Jews around the world, Israel remains “Hatikva,” the hope--of a brighter future and, in the words of the state’s national anthem, “to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”