This week Israel marked 73 years since their miraculous founding in 1948. Israel’s founder and first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, once said: “In order to be a realist, one must believe in miracles.”
That statement is unquestionably true when it comes to the story of Israel’s existence and statehood. One need only look at the Jewish people and the tiny state of Israel to believe that the Bible is true and that God not only exists, but is actively working in our world today. Israel has not only defied every odd but has thrived, grown, and is now a leader amongst the world nations. Even though restoration in Israel has not reached culmination, Zion’s light is definitely shining brightly.
In 1948, the population of Israel was just over 800,000. Today, Israel’s citizens number 9.3 million. It is estimated that 46% of the world’s Jewish population now resides in Israel, an increase from just 6% in 1948.
Since 1948, 3.3 million people have immigrated to Israel. More than 44% of them have arrived in the last thirty years. That means that 78% of Israel’s Jews are native-born! Sadly, the world’s Jewish population has still not recovered from the Holocaust. Before World War II, there were 16.6 million Jews in the world. After the war ended, and Israel declared independence, the world’s Jewish population stood at 11.5 million, and today, there are 14.7 million Jews in the world.
Did you know that there were 167,000 babies born in Israel since last year’s Independence Day? Eighty-seven of those babies were born in the Jewish community of Har Bracha, a thriving settlement in Samaria whose residents total 3,000 people.
Since last year’s Independence Day, Israel’s population increased by 137,000 people, a 1.5% increase.
To give you a sense of the realistic miracles that David Ben Gurion was referring to, I’d like to give you a brief overview of Israel’s history.
Nearly 2,000 years ago the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people from their land. After surviving pogroms, crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and countless other persecution throughout the centuries, the Jewish people barely survived the worst anti-semtism ever known to mankind – the Holocaust. During World War II, six million Jewish souls were murdered by the tyrant Adolf Hitler.
From the ashes of the Holocaust, in 1948, the UN voted in favor of partitioning Palestine, with a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. Israel accepted and declared statehood. The Arabs rejected and declared war on Israel. They were joined by Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
Before the vote, President Harry Truman pressured the UN to reject partition. Just before Israel declared statehood, General George Marshall, the US Secretary of State at the time, demanded that Israel delay independence. After Israel went forward anyway, the US imposed a military embargo, refusing to provide any assistance to Israel in the way of arms or equipment.
Besides favoring the Arabs in the conflict, Great Britain supplied arms for Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq in their fight against the brand new Israeli state.
The Palmach force of the Haganah numbered only 300 men at the time of independence. Half of them had guns. Israel’s total fighting force at the beginning of the war numbered only a few thousand, and they were divided into multiple split groups that could not agree on how to protect the new, fledgling country. Israel had no tanks and no real airforce. Volunteer pilots from the US and other countries helped smuggle dilapidated World War II aircraft into Israel and flew them during the war, making up a ragtag air force.
Against all odds, Israel survived.
Today, Israel is ranked as the eighth most powerful nation in the world. They are global leaders in technology, agriculture, science, and innovation.
Although Israel still has much room for growth, Zion’s light is truly shining forth to the world.
Happy 73rd birthday, Israel.
Did you celebrate this week? We did.