The State of Israel cannot survive without unqualified economic and military support from the United States. The country’s military capabilities are formidable, but Arab opposition to the existence of Israel is emboldened by comments such as those made by President Barack Obama after his recent meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is puzzling that Obama has given impetuous support to the Palestinians even as every president since the 1940's has wholeheartedly supported Israel.
After returning from my second trip to Israel, I have an even stronger appreciation of the spirit that exists in this tiny nation nestled in the heart of the Arab world. In spite of extraordinary external pressures and several wars since the country was founded, Israelis are thriving, and they seem to be very happy.
Israel is a country with 7.7 million people, of which 5.8 million are Jewish. The country has exhibited a remarkable united determination to survive, and yet, its diversity is refreshing. Jerusalem is a holy city that gave birth to different religions; Tel Aviv and Haifa are business and neo-cultural centers, and thousands of acres across the country provide citizens and tourists with food.
But with many sworn enemies a stone’s throw away, Israel is always on the brink of violence. Since its inception, the country has battled with Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. Too frequently, Israelis are subjected to mayhem created by provocateurs from other Arab nations. It is only with the support of the U.S. that Israel has withstood bravely against its enemies.
In spite of such turmoil, Israelis have forged ahead and prospered economically even though government expenditures for armaments are abnormally high. They co-exist with a huge group of Israeli Muslims in the face of serious religious differences. They are a nuclear power to be reckoned with. And they are one of the U.S.’s strongest and most important allies.
Of the 13 million Jews worldwide, nearly 5 million reside in Israel, but population growth is very low. The purpose of the Zionist Movement espoused by Theodor Hertzl in the mid-20th century was to bring more Jews to Israel, “the birthplace of the Jewish people.” The success of the movement has been plagued by sparse immigration, low birth rates and inter-marriage. So, Israeli’s ability to defend itself will become more problematic over time as its population ages. After World War II, Zionist fervor increased as the concept effectively expanded. Now Israel not only is the homeland of Jews, it is a safe haven for Jews who face persecution in any place on earth.
It is time for Jews throughout the world to encourage the U.S. to stay the course. Experts should speculate how the landscape of the Middle East will change without a strong Israel overseeing the events. This oversight is even more important today as the U.S. prepares to dramatically decrease its presence in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months.
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