Since the time of the British Mandate, the Jewish community in Palestine had been forming political, social and economic institutions that governed daily life in Palestine and served as a pre-state infrastructure.
The Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) served as head of the pre-state government. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the British (In 1917) initiated the Balfour Declaration.
Thereafter, the League of Nations granted British the mandate over Palestine and in 1922, the Jewish settlement started. This is when a number of Jews started coming again to Palestine.
The Arabs were opposed to Jewish immigration to Palestine and stepped up their attacks against the Jews. This prompted the partition of the land between the Arabs and the Jews. The Arabs however, never accepted the partition.
Constant conflicts and violence in the land forced the British to resign the control and the United Nations took over.
In 1947, UN recommended the partition of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. Again the Jewish accepted the partition, but the Arabs never did so. As a result many Jews were massacred and the survivors relocated to Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem too, the Jews continued to experience violence from the Arabs and a number of them (Jews) were massacred.
“Ever since King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, the city has played a central role in Jewish existence. Three times a day for thousands of years Jews have prayed. To Jerusalem, thy city, shall we return with joy, and have repeated the Psalmist’s oath: If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning”, Mitchell Bard reflects. And whereas the Jews views Jerusalem as a sacred city, the Arabs revere the area and not the city.
The Jews in a new state
The Israel state, like a young bird learning to fly, was faced with many challenges. It fought a number of wars of survival with the Arabs and at the same time struggling to resettle a number of Jews returning to ‘their home land’.
This was so demanding in kind and cash. Though Israel borders are still in dispute, they cover an area of about 21.000sq.km.
Furthermore the political organisation has it that Israel is a democratic state. It however, does not have a written constitution, but a series of ‘Basic Laws’ that perfectly work.
Israel turns 60
For survivors, the Holocaust remains real and ever-present. The death camps in Germany and Poland still remain fresh in the minds of the Jews.
“On this sad, quiet day in Israel we remember and shed a tear. Modern Israel, which was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust, is a living reminder of the families which were separated; men, women and children who were murdered because their only crime was that they were Jewish. We teach our children, read books and watch Holocaust documentaries on Israel TV; so as not to forget, not one soul whose body was placed into an oven. We look at Israel’s enemies - Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia and stare Islamic terrorists from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah in the face as we collectively say to all who dare to harm or discriminate against the Jewish people, never again”, remarked a holocaust survivor.
Recently, celebrations were held to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding state. Israel declared itself an independent state on 14 May 1948, three years after the death of six million Jews in the Holocaust.
Israeli celebrations were marked by large crowds, military air shows and actually most military bases opened their doors to show their arsenal power.
The military hand in modern Israel
Israel has compulsory military service with men and women called up at the age of 18. It has Compulsory military for both men and women. Its people see it rightly that only the military power can see them continue to exist.
They have lived and continue to live a life of survival; where they have had to fight very large Arab armies, almost all their life. What the leadership of Israel however, continue to say is that their struggle is meant solely for achieving peace.
“Our conflict has been long indeed. However, it is peace, not war that we aspire to and crave”, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a speech marking Remembrance Day. The Jews had therefore to develop a very strong army to counter fight the daily threats from their arch enemies.
They have consequently developed one of the strongest army in the world that has a number of specialisation in combat operations. Theirs is adapt or die!
In fact the late Idi Amin, who was once a Ugandan president tasted the might of the Israel army, when he ordered a plane hijack that, involved some Jews.
The former African dictator ‘made history’ when his country was paralysed for 90 minutes in what witnesses compare to a foot ball game.
All the captives where rescued and the Jews left, with only one accidental victim. They never wanted to harm any Ugandan as they knew how the dictator had ignorantly taken the move.
It is this strong army that makes the Jews continue to survive. If Israel made a mistake of reducing its military power, then the Jews would be wiped out.
“Sixty years ago they were preparing to fight for their lives. The British, rulers of Palestine since 1917, were going home, leaving behind a legal system, red pillar boxes, chaos and war”, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion said in his declaration in 1948.
The military might of the Jews therefore, is not displayed by accident when they celebrate such anniversaries. It is the only power that can make them survive amidst a very challenging environment.