JERUSALEM, Israel – Seventy-five years ago, a declaration signed in a Tel Aviv art gallery changed the world forever.
Against overwhelming odds, the fledgling State of Israel not only survived, but has grown beyond expectation, launching it for the next three quarters of a century on the path to becoming a world power.
David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s leading founder and first prime minister, declared the birth of modern Israel in Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall on May 14, 1948, and for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, the Jewish people had a nation.
“Ben-Gurion chose the words, ‘we hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel to be known as the State of Israel,’” Independence Hall tour guide Isaac Dror recalled. “This was the birth of a Jewish state as for all Jews. Ben Gurion was standing here as the voice of 11 million Jews around the world who had no voice, who had no address and nowhere to go to.”
Dror leads the education effort at the site. “This was promised to us by God,” he explained. “We are the only people in the history of the world that live on the same land, speak in the same language and believe in the same God more than 3,000 years.”
From a Biblical perspective, many see Israel fulfilling the prophecy in the book of Ezekiel, where the “dry bones” of the Jewish people come to life after two thousand years of exile.
Organizations such as the Jewish Agency helped lay the groundwork for the two thousand years in the making of the Jewish state.
Danielle Mor of the Jewish Agency told CBN News, “The Jewish Agency was the lead organization in establishing and giving birth to the modern state of Israel. The whole purpose of establishing the Jewish Agency was, on the one hand, unite the global Jewish people, and to bring the global Jewish people in front of the British mandate to be the organization that would lead and establish a national home for the Jewish people in the land of Israel.”
Dani Dayan, Chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, recounted the genocide that preceded Israel’s independence. “To fully comprehend the miracle of the country’s birth,” he said,” consider that it happened in the shadow of the Holocaust – or “Shoah” in Hebrew – when the world learned how Nazi Germany murdered six million Jews.”
He continued, “When you understand that only three years after the end of the Shoah, the lowest point the Jewish people reached in its exile, we started our redemption process and we … regained our independence after 2000 years of terrible events. Well, if that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what a miracle is,” he said.
Even so, Dayan dispels one myth about the connection between Israel’s beginning and the Holocaust.
“Israel was not established because of the Holocaust. Israel was established in spite of the Holocaust,” he insisted. “Israel would have been a much (more) robust, greater, secure, successful country if there were additional 6 million Jews and their descendants in the world. But Israel is the guarantee that they will be no more – no other Shoah for the Jewish people.”
Now, after 75 years, Israel maintains its safety and security with one of the most powerful militaries in the world.
Former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Jonathan Conricus described how the military was transformed.
“Then, it was small units of very (patriotic) people, some of them Holocaust survivors, who just came off the boat from Europe and put on IDF uniforms and joined battle and defended Israel in 1948 against six Arab armies. Today, we are a highly organized, developed, and well-funded military, perhaps the strongest in the region, that enjoys a significant technological advantage over all of our enemies.”
Israel is also an economic miracle. This tiny country of less than 10 million people has the highest concentration of new businesses per capita in the world, earning it the nickname of “Startup Nation.”
Jon Medved, founder of Our Crowd, a venture capital investment company, showcases these accomplishments in his annual investor summit.
“This is what Israel is supposed to be doing,” he explained. “If Israel wasn’t the startup nation, what are we going to be? Okay, I’m sorry, this is our destiny. Our destiny is to create. Our destiny is to you know, fix the world.”
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Medved added, “And we’re just a little people. We make a lot of noise, but I think most Israelis – if they wear a yarmulke or they don’t wear a yarmulke – view this as a spiritual undertaking, that we are doing this not just to make money, but to do good.”
Yet throughout its history, Israel has faced nearly insurmountable odds.
Just hours after Ben-Gurion declared the state, 6 Arab nations drive to drive it into the sea.
While it survived, Israel would be challenged again in the 1967 Six-Day War the 1973 Yom Kippur war. After thousands of years in exile and 75 years as a country, Israel stands, despite enemies within, along each border, and beyond.
For Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., the phenomenon has one explanation. “It’s a modern miracle, the rebirth of the Jewish state against all odds,” he told CBN News.
He added that “A people that were left for dead that had been dispersed to the four corners of the earth – and you saw the ancient prophecies fulfilled, where you had the ingathering of the Jewish exiles, the restoration of Jewish sovereignty in modern times against all odds.”
Dermer believes the miracle is still unfolding. “You’re seeing that happen wherever you go in Israel, whether it’s in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and you saw all the ancient history, and then you see the startup nation,” he said. “You go north, south, east, and west: Israel is a modern miracle. It is the greatest miracle of the 20th century and maybe the greatest miracle of the last 2000 years.”