This week we celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day. We recall the great steps taken to reach it since the signing on May 14, 1948.
In Israel, hundreds of thousands of people are out on the streets and city squares celebrating the amazing miracle, called the State of Israel.
After almost 2,000 years of living in the diaspora, dispersed around the world, experiencing dramatically different life stories, the Jewish people have managed to go back to their historic homeland. Against all odds they built a vibrant, democratic nation-state as their home.
Just two weeks ago, Jews celebrated the Passover holiday, also called the Holiday of Freedom, and only a few days ago we commemorated the Holocaust Memorial Day. There is a direct line that goes from the remembrance of the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, and the celebration of our independence day, the realization of our sovereignty, the purest form of liberty.
But this miracle doesn’t end with the creation of the state 68 years ago. The achievements of the young state in such a short time are outstanding. Despite facing ceaseless tremendous military, economic and security threats every single day, threats faced like no other nation on Earth, Israel has managed to successfully defend itself. It has formed a strong, secure nation. All while absorbing refugees and immigrants from over 70 states, and channeling this immigration force into an economic and social robust growth model.
The only democracy in the Middle East proves it has sound democratic principles, when it even allows domestic rivals who fight against the very idea of a Jewish state, to have representatives in its parliament.
We’ve developed top level universities that have produced Nobel Prize winners in economics and science; we created a vigorous and growing economy based on cutting-edge innovation and technology. Israel is a technological powerhouse, the startup nation. Israeli inventions range across a formidable scope, from cellular phones and applications, to the frontlines of medical, agricultural, water and green technologies that are part of the day-to-day lives of billions of people around the world.
Even in the political field, the state of Israel enjoys an impressive success. We reached a peace agreement with Egypt, once our worst enemy; and a few years later peace with the Kingdom of Jordan. These past few years we’ve maintained direct communication, although discreet, with a long list of Arab states, more than at any time before. We hope we can also reach a peace agreement with our Palestinian neighbors. Certainly no other nation desires peace more than ours.
There is no doubt the situation in Israel is submitted to examination under a magnifying glass by many in the world. Relative to its size, which compares to New Jersey in area and population, with around 8 million people, Israel generates an oversized wave of emotions from around the globe. Those emotions can be explained partly by the historical events of the land of Israel, its geographic location, and the dynamic change of the Jewish people’s destiny in the 20th Century. Jews decided to stop being victimized and to take control of their future.
The Jewish people and the state of Israel have counted with the steadfast support of many people, among them the United States, and especially the state of Florida. They have stood firmly by our side to strengthen our common ideals of democracy and freedom.
This is why the independence day of the State of Israel is not only a day of celebration for Israelis, but rather a special day for people in the United States and around the world. This resonates particularly now, a year where we see an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, and the threat of global terrorism is crossing borders and continents. We understand the enormous importance of the existence of the State of Israel — the miracle that keeps growing day by day.
Lior Haiat is consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.