Tuesday, April 17, 2018
What We Should Know as We Wish Happy Birthday to the State of Israel on the 70th Anniversary of Its Modern Existence
WE WISH THE STATE OF ISRAEL A HAPPY 70TH BIRTHDAY. • • • THE JEWISH Homeland. Almost a year ago, American Thinker published an article by Rabbi Yonina Pritzker, who has served as the spiritual leader of Boston-area congregations, was a research analyst at CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), and co-founded Rabbis and Ministers for Israel. I saved the article because it contains so much about the short but full history of the state of Israel. • The article, titled "The Best Deal Ever," was written only six months after President Trump took office and it begins with this : "Everyone is talking about deal-making these days. The new president of the United States has been described as a deal-maker, and in fact, he wrote a book entitled The Art of the Deal. There is a buzz about new possibilities for historic deals. But ultimately, a deal is not worth even the paper it is written on unless it is upheld. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem and the liberation of Israel's biblical heartland, when the Jewish people finally secured access to the most sacred parts of their native land, a sovereign right the international community legally recognized nearly a century ago. We are still waiting for that same international community to honor and uphold the terms of that agreement." • Pritzker outlines hte hiostory of the creation -- should we say re-creation? -- of the Jewish Homeland. In a brief excerpted form, it is this : "Following World War I, world representatives came together in San Remo, Italy, empowered to fulfill the terms of peace, which included the breakup of the former Ottoman Empire. Not only Israel, but Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan were all established out of what had been sections of the Ottoman Empire. In 1920, these international representatives passed the San Remo Resolution; they declared their goal of 'reconstituting' the ancient Jewish State. For the Jewish Homeland, they allocated the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the land that currently comprises Jordan, the Golan Heights, and Gaza. They specified these particular regions because this is where Jews have lived since ancient times. This was recognized as the native land of the Jewish people. The San Remo Resolution was signed into international law and was subsequently endorsed by the League of Nations, adding to international law the full weight of the international community. In addition, it became part of US law when President Harding signed a Joint Resolution of the 67th Congress of the United States and when the US signed the Anglo-American Convention of 1924....In 1922, soon after the passing of the San Remo Resolution, Britain reneged on its obligation to ensure the 'close settlement by Jews on the Land' by creating the country of Jordan, using 77% of the land mandated for Israel. This abrogation of legal commitments made to the Jews regarding the State of Israel is part of a pattern seen throughout the past century -- a pattern that continues even today. We saw this continue in 1929, when England uprooted the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. In August of 1929, men, women, and children from a Jewish community that had been in Hebron for over three thousand years were massacred by their Arab neighbors. The British reaction was not to defend the remaining Jews, nor to affirm the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, nor even to allow the Jews to defend themselves. Rather, the British response was to evacuate the Jews whose roots had been in Hebron since the very beginning of Jewish history. In 1937...the Peel Commission proposed a partition of the 23% of remaining Mandate land. The Arabs rejected this proposal, just as they would reject every proposal that included a Jewish state within any borders. We see this pattern to renege on promises made to Israel yet again when the British issued the White Paper in 1939. Here, rather than uphold its obligations to facilitate Jewish immigration, Britain severely limited Jewish immigration and land acquisition, effectively stranding countless Jews in Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. In 1945, the United Nations assumed the obligations of the League of Nations, according to Article 80 of the UN charter, making the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel one of the foundational obligations of the UN....in 1947, the UN attempted to divide this land to make a fifth Arab country from the land guaranteed for the one Jewish country. General Assembly Resolution 181 was to shrink Israel to only 17% of the land promised at San Remo. Ironically, this November 29, 1947 vote, which carried no legal weight, has often erroneously been viewed as the legal basis for the modern State of Israel. In fact, this was just another attempt to subdivide the Land of Israel to appease those who have repeatedly rejected the right to sovereignty and self-determination for the Jewish people in their ancestral Homeland." • Rabbi Pritzker points out the Arab resistance to the establishment of a State of Israel : "The San Remo Conference and various treaties following World War I successfully established independent countries sought by Arab nationalists: Iraq in 1932, Lebanon in 1943, and Syria in 1946. However, when the modern State of Israel similarly exercised its sovereign right and formally declared statehood in 1948, the Arab armies of Egypt, Lebanon, Transjordan, Syria, and Iraq immediately attacked. Jordan then occupied the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, as well as the eastern part of Jerusalem. During the nineteen years of this illegal occupation, the city of Jerusalem was divided in two for the first time in its history. The Jews who had been living as a majority in Jerusalem since the mid-1800s were expelled by the Jordanians and barred from the Old City, where the holiest Jewish sites are found. Although this cradle of Jewish civilization was guaranteed to the Jewish people, not one of the international guarantors raised a finger to uphold that agreement when, in 1948, these Arab forces marched into this territory, occupied these holy places, desecrated cherished and sacred sites, and expelled the Jewish population. In 1949, when the Armistice Demarcation Lines were drawn, commonly called 'The Green Line,' this line was rejected by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt as delineating any type of border. And yet today, there are those who misrepresent this line as a border -- the so-called '67 borders' -- in a further attempt to create another Arab country within the land promised to the Jewish people." Pritzker notes that : "It is revealing to note that during the nineteen years when Jordan illegally occupied Samaria, Judea, and the eastern part of Jerusalem, and Egypt illegally occupied Gaza, no move was made to create an additional Arab country in these areas. Only in 1967, when Israel recovered those areas, did the relentless pressure to create a fifth Arab country on the sliver of land left for the one Jewish State begin." • Rabbi Pritzker was writing in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the June 1967 Six Days War that liberated "those lands that were guaranteed by the international community to be part of the Jewish Homeland, including, in part, Judea, which bears the very name of the Jewish people; Samaria, which, with Judea, forms the Jewish biblical heartland; and the eastern part of Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest city, the home of the most sacred places in Jewish life. In 1967, faced with a war of annihilation, the Jews were able to liberate these sacred places and recover these promised areas, only to then be perpetually bombarded with pressure to give up this land." • One tactic, says Rabbi Pritzker, being used is changing the names of places in order to obscure their Jewish history -- "as when Jordan tried to rename Samaria and Judea with the generic name "the West Bank." And yet, in 1925, the Moslem Waqf Temple Mount Guide (page 4) included the following description of Judaism's holiest site, the Temple Mount : 'Its identity with the site of Solomon's Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which 'David built there an altar unto the L-rd[.]' Another tactic is to use the United Nations, where the international community, in abrogation of its own obligations, repeatedly votes and declares that the land of Israel and Jerusalem, the Jewish capital for 3,000 years, have no connection to the people of Israel or to Jewish history." • • • THEN CAME PRESIDENT TRUMP. On December 6, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and that he would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Here is the full transcript of his ammouncement : "When I came into office, I promised to look at the world's challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking. We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches. My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel's capital. Yet for over 20 years, every previous American President has exercised the law's waiver, refusing to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage, but they made their best judgment based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in. After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result. Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. While previous Presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering. I have judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process and to work towards a lasting agreement. Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem. The capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, as well as the Israeli supreme court. It is the location of the initial residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries. For decades, visiting American Presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their israeli counter-parts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year. Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have built a country where Jews, Moslems and Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs. Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the western wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Moslems worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque. However, through all of these years Presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all. But today we finally acknowledge the obvious, that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It's something that has to be done. That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace. In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear. This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement. We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis, and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved. The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif. Above all, our greatest hope is for peace. The universal yearning in every human soul. With today's action, I reaffirm my administration's long standing commitment to a future of peace and security for the region. There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place for greater in understanding and cooperation. This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what is possible, not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable. Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it. So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts. I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit and history. Its people are brilliant, proud, and diverse, vibrant and strong. But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance, and terror. Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations. It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midst. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence. And it is time for young and modern voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future. So today let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region, political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Moslem, to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace. Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And god bless the United States." • • • MAY 14 -- THE US EMBASSY WILL MOVE TO JERUSALEM. The Washington Post reported on February 23, 2018, that the US Embassy in Israel will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence, confirming the US State Department's announcement. The WP said the Embassy, initially to be located on the current premises of the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, will expand on and near that site next year but will eventually move to new premises President Trump has said will be constructed, according to a statement issued by State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. The cost of that building is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major Republican donor, has offered to fund an unspecified part of the construction, according to an administration official who confirmed an Associated Press report. Adelson is a strong supporter of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owns a pro-Netanyahu newspaper in Israel. • The same day, February 23, the Times of Israel reported that Trump administration officials say Congress is being briefed on the plans and that the ribbon cutting could take place on May 14 -- the 70th anniversary of the day of Israel's independence declaration on May 14, 1948. (Israel celebrates its anniversary of independence according to the Hebrew calendar; Independence Day -- Yom Ha’Atzmaut -- falls on April 19 this year.) The Times of Israel gave many details of the move : "The May opening marks a significant acceleration. Vice President Mike Pence had said previously the Embassy would open by the end of 2019....The date of the move is seen as largely symbolic, as the logistics of a permanent relocation are expected to take much longer. Most of the Embassy staff could continue to operate from Tel Aviv during the early stages. Staff at the consulate were told Friday that, as of mid-May, they would be considered employees of the Embassy, Channel 10 reported. In its initial phase, Ambassador David Friedman will move to the consular premises, Channel 10 said, and the building will be formally redesignated as the US Embassy. Channel 10 quoted aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau saying he had not pressed for this accelerated process....The US will initially retrofit a small suite of offices in the facility to accommodate Friedman, and key aides, while Friedman will still also maintain an office at the current Embassy in Tel Aviv, which would henceforth be considered a branch of the Jerusalem Embassy, Channel 10 said. Jerusalem consular staff will continue to provide consular services such as issuing passports and visas at the building....Over time, the Arnona facility will be expanded to accommodate more Embassy personnel. The expansion could ultimately involve an adjacent property that currently houses a home for senior citizens. It will come under US control in the next few years under a previous arrangement, officials said. Finally, a new purpose-built Embassy will be planned and constructed. Earlier Friday, four US officials told the Associated Press that the Trump administration was considering an offer from Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson to pay for at least part of the new Embassy. Lawyers at the State Department are looking into the legality of accepting private donations to cover some or all of the Embassy costs, the administration officials said. The discussions are occurring as the new Embassy clears its final bureaucratic hurdles. In one possible scenario, the administration would solicit contributions not only from Adelson but potentially from other donors in the evangelical and American Jewish communities, too. One official said Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate and staunch supporter of Israel, had offered to pay the difference between the total cost -- expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars -- and what the administration is able to raise. Under any circumstance, letting private citizens cover the costs of an official government building would mark a significant departure from historical US practice....Since Trump’s announcement on December 6 that the US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and planned to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, his administration has been sifting through options for fast-tracking the relocation. Last month, Pence announced during a visit to Israel that the Embassy would move by the end of 2019 -- possibly earlier. Ambassador Friedman, who lobbied for Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, has advocated moving the Embassy as soon as possible." • • • THE HISTORIC CONNECTION BETWEEN AMERICA AND ISRAEL. The story is told by JTA outlet of how, one year after David Ben-Gurion, who was to become Israel’s first prime minister, read the new nation’s Declaration of Independence in Tel Aviv, May 14, 1948, "in the dead of night, three students ascended a tower at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and raised the Israeli flag. The next morning, the Conservative rabbinical school’s administration took it down. That act of surreptitious Zionist protest was one of several at JTS during the years surrounding 1948, when Israel gained independence, Michael Greenbaum wrote in an essay in 'Tradition Renewed,' a JTS history edited by Jack Wertheimer. Students supported the new Jewish state. However, the seminary’s chancellor, Louis Finkelstein, opposed American Judaism focusing all its efforts across an ocean, and also needed to appease a board wary of Jewish nationalism. But the students persisted. Once, they sang the Israeli anthem 'Hatikvah' following graduation ceremonies. Another time, they convinced their colleagues at the Union Theological Seminary, the Protestant school next door, to play the anthem from their bell tower. Today, nearly all American Jewish institutions are vocally, even passionately pro-Israel. But even in the years after the Jewish state won its independence 70 years ago, that feeling was not yet universal." • JTA explained that : "Before the Holocaust, Zionism itself was polarizing among American Jews. Many, especially in the Reform movement, felt support for a Jewish Homeland would cause their loyalty to America to be called into question. The other side was represented by Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court justice, who saw no conflict between American values and Zionist aspirations. By the time Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, American Jews, scarred by images of the Holocaust and Nazism and inspired by newsreels of tanned kibbutzniks, were largely supportive of Zionism. But they were not yet turning out for organized political advocacy and mass tourism to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Instead they were getting used to the idea of a Jewish sovereign state -- gradually incorporating it into their culture, prayers and religious outlook." But, reported JTA, after Golda Mier visited the US in February 1948 after Israel had defeated the Arabs and secured its Homeland, she "raised $400,000 in one day (the equivalent of some $4 million today) on behalf of the provisional state on just one stop in Montreal. In the weeks following independence, she started a drive in the United States and Canada for $75 million more (or about $750 million in 2018 dollars)." • JTA continued : "After Israel secured its independence, American Jews began to engage with the new nation in small ways. There was no rush of tourism, but American Jews would show their support by purchasing goods from Israel, reading books about Israel or holding Israeli dance classes in their community centers. 'Here’s this new state they had to kind of develop this relationship with, [and] the cultural realm was really the place it was happening,' Emily Alice Katz, author of the 2015 book 'Bringing Zion Home,' told the New Books Network podcast. 'There were these years in which it wasn’t as much about rallying the troops for these massive outpourings of aid or political influence, but it was more of this coming to know Israel.' Part of the reticence to support Israel stemmed from the ethos of 1950s America, with its focus on suburban growth, the 'melting pot' and assimilation. Against that backdrop, American Jews were trying to prove they belonged as social and cultural equals in American society. So again they were fearful of 'dual loyalty' charges that could stem from vocal support for a Jewish state. In a watershed moment in that debate, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion sent a letter in 1950 to Jacob Blaustein, president of the American Jewish Committee, which for many years had been hesitant to throw its support behind the Jewish national movement. Ben-Gurion pledged not to speak for American Jewry or intervene in its affairs, and to dial down his insistence that American Jews move to Israel. In exchange, Blaustein recognized 'the necessity and desirability' of supporting Israel in its nation building....as Cold War tensions continued into the 1960s, Israel began to be seen as a U.S. ally against the Soviet Union. In 1967, Israel’s existence was again threatened by Arab armies. Between the anxious buildup to that war and Israel’s lightning victory, American Jewish acceptance of Israel had turned to adulation, placing the Jewish state at the center of their identity. The few dissenters are found on the non-Zionist left...and in the quiet grumblings of some mainstream leaders and rabbis who think the emphasis on Israel has thwarted the development of distinctly American Judaism." • • • THE END OF THE GOSPEL AGE? On November 4, 2016, just before the US presidential election, Israel Today published a commentary -- "Why Do So Many Christians Love a Jewish Israel?" -- by Brian Hennessy, a retired American writer who believes the Gospel Age may be nearing its end. In the commentary, Hennessy notes : "After Israel was miraculously restored from oblivion in the last century, Jews began to return from every nation to their ancient Homeland. But they weren’t the only ones rushing to set foot on that storied land. Christians began flocking to 'the Holy Land' as well. At first, we came as tourists to visit the ancient churches and to walk where Jesus walked. Then God awakened us to see this re-born nation was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, and we came as wide-eyed pilgrims. But as the years passed, God showed us something else. We saw in this restoration His everlasting love and compassion for His people who had suffered so much for so long. Often at the hands of those who called themselves Christians. And we began to understand and love the people as much as the land. And we came as friends. Over the last 40 years or so, a number of ministries have arisen to help Christians bless the nation in many ways. From bringing Christians around the world to march in streets of Jerusalem waving banners of encouragement. To providing much needed physical and prayer support. To standing up for the nation in political forums. To encouraging tourism, and even more recently, bringing volunteers to help harvest their crops. Through it all, I believe God has been trying to show Jewish Israel (and us) how much He loves the descendants of Abraham. And how He has never forsaken them, even though it may have looked like it for a time. Isaiah anticipated this time of restoration when he wrote : 'For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you, says the LORD your Redeemer' (Isa. 54:7,8). In considering all this I realized this Christian attraction for Israel is not diminishing, but growing ever stronger. So you have to wonder -- where is it all going? Is it, as many believe, just going to go away when we fly away in a secret rapture before the reign of antichrist? If so, I’d think that would reveal a deep shallowness in our recommitment to the Jews to 'never leave you again,' as most of Christianity did during the Holocaust. Or...does God have something else in mind for Israel and all the members of Messiah’s body ready to receive it? I believe He does! And I believe He put it all in the Bible in advance so we’d know what was coming. It was just hidden. But as Yeshua [Jesus] told us, 'Nothing is hidden, except to be revealed' (Mark 4:22). That’s why I’m convinced by the Bible prophesies there will be a miraculous migration of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of believers streaming into the land one day. But this time we will not be coming as tourists. Or as pilgrims. Or even as 'Christians.' We will come, I believe, as mishpochah (Hebrew for 'family'), the redeemed of the Lord. How many times have we sung in our churches this prophecy by Isaiah, understanding it pertained to all of us who are in Messiah? -- 'Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain, gladness and joy, and sorrow, and sighing, shall flee away.' (Isa. 51:11)." • Hennessey asks the right question : "Where did we think Zion was? In Heaven? No, Isaiah was prophesying of a worldwide ingathering of God’s scattered children returning to Israel. Some believe Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled by the recent Jewish return to Israel. But Isaiah clearly defined these happy souls as 'the redeemed (or ransomed) of the Lord.'....John added [in his Gospel] : 'that He might also gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad' (John 11:52). Who are these 'children of God scattered abroad?' Clearly Yeshua was speaking about the 'Gentiles' who would hear the Gospel and become sons of God. The ones he 'purchased for God with his blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation' (Rev. 5:9). • Hennessey is poetic about what he believes is coming : "It has been two thousand years since the Gospel net was cast forth from Jerusalem upon the nation’s shores. But God said a day would come when that net would be full. And then something new would begin....All the signs indicate that time has come. And for me, nothing testifies louder to it than to see the depth of love an ever growing number of God-fearing 'Christians' have for Israel and her people. So get ready. I believe a tsunami of God’s children will soon be gathered from the nations to be united with their Jewish brethren in Messiah to become 'one flock with one shepherd' (John 10:16). As the prophet wrote : 'My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd…and they will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived' (Ezek 37:24,25). [Brian Hennessy is author of Valley of the Steeples.] • We do not and cannot know when the Gospel Age will end and the Second Coming will occur. The Gospel of Matthew tells us in 25:13 : "But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you...Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." • But, we do know that Israel and America are drawing ever closer to one another. We know that in the Middle East, only Israel is a legitimate democracy, replete with the values of western civilization and open to all who seek peace. We know, also, that many think the day is fast approaching when something immensely transitional will occur to change the world forever, and that this sense of "something" coming toward us is a great force pulling Christians and Jews closer and closer together. • • • DEAR READERS, as we wish the state of Israel a Happy Birthday on Wednesday -- on Yom HaAtzmaut 2018, you can greet your Jewish friends and family with the words “moadim l’simkhah” (happy season) -- we should also remember that the 3,500-year-old path we have marched together, sometimes in terrible conflict but always together, now bears the signs of becoming an unbreakable brotherhood. It may be 70 official years, but we know that the existence, the idea, of Israel has filled history since history began to be recorded. And, when earthly history ends, it will end in Jerusalem. Yom HaAtzmaut.