by Eva Rydelnik
In May, 1948, the modern State of Israel was founded, undoubtedly one of the most important events in modern history.  For the
first time in world history, a people that had been uprooted and dispersed for almost 2000 years returned as a sovereign, governing nation to their historic homeland.  This event occurred against amazing odds and under incredible circumstances.

Israel was built in the face of extraordinary opposition.  The earliest chalutzim (pioneers) came in the 1880's, purchasing land from the Ottoman overlords, for a dream of Zion.  In the following years, political activism, formulated by Theodore Hertzl and others, laid a foundation for making the dream of a Jewish home in Zion come true, but the reality was still distant.  By the late 1930's, realizing the dream seemed the only answer to the nightmare of the Holocaust.

Most amazing are the people who built the State.  Israel's pioneers were not strong and healthy lumberjacks with rippling muscles and abundant supplies.  Israel was built by men and women who had just escaped the hell of Nazi concentration camps.  These
courageous Survivors often staggered ashore, barely alive.  Their bodies were thin, but their determination and courage boundless.
Against seemingly insurmountable odds, despite European opposition, American apathy, and British blockades, they were deter-mined to make a home in the Land. 

Between 1945 and 1948, these dauntless Survivors contended against well-armed Arab opposition, British political oppression, and world opinion to secure a place where Jews would never be subjected to genocide again.  They struggled to build a home with
meager supplies under constant attack.  As if by a miracle, the United Nations voted for partition and the modern State of Israel
was born in May, 1948.

Ancient Prophecies Come True

Israel's 50th birthday is certainly worth celebrating.  It is a modern miracle and the most important event in recent history.  How- ever, even more amazing than the rebirth of Israel is the fact that the Hebrew prophets foretold that it would happen exactly as it did!

For hundreds of years, skeptics laughed at the thought that the Jewish people would ever return to the land of Israel.  In the
Middle Ages, Jewish people were mocked for their hopes to spend "next year in Jerusalem."

The Jewish people have been divided on the ideal of a return to Zion.  By the turn of the century, many Orthodox felt that political Zionism was wrong, and would not support the Zionist goal of establishing a nation.  During the early Zionist movement, the idea
of the Jewish people returning to the Land was ridiculed as a political impossibility by world powers.

The prophet Ezekiel foretold the Jewish people's return to the land of Israel after a long exile (Ezekiel 37).  G-D is in control
of world events, and He brought His people back to the Land just as the prophets foretold.

The regathering of Israel, Ezekiel said, would occur in stages, described as a
"Valley of Dry Bones." From the Jewish people's
undying love for Zion through the galut (dispersion), to the Russian Jewish settlers who bought land from the Ottomans in the 1880's, to the political activities of the 1940's, G-D's promise was fulfilled.

The Effects of Persecution

The Bible also foretold that Israel would be reborn through persecution.  G-D says of Israel, through the prophet Jeremiah, "I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers" (Jeremiah 16:15). But in the next verse G-D says that He will use "fishermen" and "hunters" to pursue His people back to their land.  This picture of persecution has literally been ful- filled in the rebirth of Israel.  The primary motivation for modern Zionism has been anti-Semitic persecution.  In the last 100 years G-D has used Czarist pogroms, Polish economic discrimination, Nazi genocide, Arab hatred, and Soviet repression to drive Jewish people back to their homeland for safety.  Against incredible odds, G-D delivered them from annihilation and brought them back to the Land of Israel.

G-D always keeps His promises! As we celebrate Israel's 50th birthday, let's also remember G-D's faithfulness in always keeping
His Word, and preserving His people.  Mazel tov, Israel!

Just as the prophets foretold the future of the Land of Israel, they also foretell the coming of the Messiah -- Israel's hope.
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