We’re 70 years past the historic U.N. General Assembly vote that approved the creation of the modern state of Israel on Nov. 29, 1947, but we keep being reminded of the elusiveness of world acceptance for the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Putting aside the historical fact that a Jewish kingdom or commonwealth existed in the land of Israel for most of the 1,000 years before the Roman Empire took full control at the dawn of the Common Era, we in part blame Israel’s youth as a nation for its precarious diplomatic position and its place as the bogeyman for its neighbors.
But although Israel is young in terms of working through basic political, religious, economic and ethnic issues — the same kinds of issues that bewitch the United States, the United Kingdom, France and many others — it is not young compared with most nations.
Of 195 sovereign nations, more than half became independent states for the first time in the modern era after Israel’s birth May 14, 1948. We count 103 countries younger than Israel, and several others, such as India, Pakistan and Jordan, that are older but also were born after World War II.
But Kenya isn’t forced to mandate military service and devote a huge slice of its budget to defense spending for fear that its neighbors will try to wipe it off the map. Slovenia doesn’t have to worry that its athletes will be shunned or its national anthem silenced at international sporting events. International organizations are not dedicated to the delegitimization and elimination of Jamaica.
And the U.N. General Assembly doesn’t have 20 resolutions lined up this fall to smear Algeria or Papua New Guinea or the Republic of Ireland or Cambodia or Tuvalu or even North Korea. One thing about Israel stands out from all those other nations, and it’s not “the occupation,” as regrettable as that may be.
So it was that a newspaper in Lebanon responded to the release of “Justice League,” featuring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, by presenting Gadot as a subversive Mossad agent in a front-page story (for which the paper did apologize).
When Islamic State terrorists slaughtered more than 300 Egyptian Sufi Muslims at worship in a mosque in northern Sinai, many Egyptians were convinced that Israel was to blame, in the false certainty that Islamic State is something Israel created to kill as many Muslims as possible.
And when a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement emailed the AJT to slander Israel, he called on “you and your murdering friends” to open the main port in Yemen to relieve the suffering of civilians caught in a civil war that’s a proxy fight between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Somehow, that Arab-Persian/Sunni-Shia battle is also the fault of Israel — that is, the Jews.
Israel has made remarkable progress in 70 years. It’s amazing, for example, that some Saudis talk publicly of a day when their country has normal relations with Israel. But we must recognize after seven decades that grudging acceptance is the most the Jewish state can ever hope for from most of the world.