Israel’s Place in the World.

Speech at Nations Bless Israel event Sydney. 29 April 2018.

Who has ever seen anything as strange as this?

Who ever heard of such a thing?

Has a nation ever been born in a single day?

Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment?

But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.

“Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?”

asks the Lord.

“No! I would never keep this nation from being born,”

says your God.

These beautiful sentiments, by the prophet Isaiah, are as relevant today, when reflecting on the modern state of Israel, as they were when he said them so many millennia ago.

Agriculture in the desert. credit: Wikipedia.

As journalist Bruce Loudon stated in the Australian Newspaper just last week – Israel’s success in emerging as the Middle East’s solitary functioning democracy, where the rule of law and religious freedom prevail, and as a prosperous nation hewn from arid wasteland that is now a world leader in global science and technological innovation, is nothing short of miraculous.

At times like this we should pause and reflect, and ask ourselves to consider this miracle, continually occurring before our very eyes, the miracle that is the State of Israel. We should ask ourselves as we reflect what Israel’s place in the world really is today.

Some, both in Israel and abroad, have asked over recent times:

What has happened to Israel, to the Israel we took pride in?

Is this the land we prayed for?

The answer is yes, this is the land we prayed for.

Is it perfect?  Of course not; no state is perfect.

Yet it is a remarkable testament to Jewish resilience, faith and hope; a thriving state that has maintained its balance, composure and principles in the most inhospitable neighbourhood on the planet.

The resilience of this remarkable place and people is seen and felt all the time, both at the personal level and at the national level: every time the country bounces back from a war, every time a family carries on with life after a terrorist attack.

There is an optimism and hope deeply ingrained in the Jewish people that pushes the nation forward, despite the pain, despite the suffering, despite the loss. It is not a people that wallows in victim-hood but rather takes whatever hand it is dealt and makes the most of it, tries to improve on it, builds off it.

Isaiah again reminds us all that

“For Zion’s sake I will not be silent and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still” (62:1).

I take a moment to break the silence and remind us all what this remarkable country, the 100th smallest country on our planet with just 1/1000th of the world population, and only 70 years of history as a state, smaller than Tasmania, and surrounded by countries and people that seek its destruction has been able to achieve.

With no significant natural resources until very recently it is:

  • The only country in history to have revived an unspoken language .
  • It boasts the second highest number of Nobel prizes per capita.
  •  It is the only country on earth to have entered the 21st century with a net gain of trees – in an area that is mainly desert.
  • 90% of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water – the highest rate in the world.
  •  Israeli companies are currently building the largest solar production facility in the world and Israel operates the largest desalination plant in the world.
  • It is the number one country on earth for providing usable water from seawater.
  • Israel’s scientific institutions are ranked number 3 in the world and 2 in space sciences.
  • Israel leads the world in medical patents.
  • Israel has more patents registered in the US than Russia, India and China combined – who have 300 times Israel’s population .
  • Israel is the only liberal democracy in the middle east amid almost unprecedented regional turmoil.
  • Israel has provided overseas aid and humanitarian services to over 140 other countries – even at times to some that refuse to recognise it such as Syria.
  • Israel is the 3rd most educated country in the world according to the OECD and has the second highest number of new books published annually per capita.
  • In proportion to its population Israel has the highest number of start-up companies in the world. In absolute numbers Israel has more start-ups than every other country except the US and China.
  • Israel is the only country where it indigenous population has returned to its native land after 2000 years of forced exile.
credit: Al Arabiya.

In just two weeks’ time the United States will finally right a 70 year old wrong by moving its embassy to the holy city of Jerusalem.

Hopefully this will lead to other countries realising that the world will not end when this hypocrisy is exposed and Jerusalem is affirmed by others as the capital of the Jewish State.

How can we not see the hand of G-d in the relatively muted reaction of the Arab States to President Trump’s declaration last year that Jerusalem is indeed the capital of the Jewish State?

How can we not see the hand of G-d in the revival of the relations between Christians and Jews in the last few decades and the unprecedented support for the people of Israel from Christians around the world?

How can we not see the hand of G-d in the remarkable achievements of Israel that are today benefiting all of mankind in areas such as medicine, science, humanitarian services and computers – a small portion of which I mentioned earlier?

How can we not see the hand of G-d in the successful absorption and integration of millions of migrants to Israel from all corners of the globe over the last 70 years?

How can we not see the hand of G-d in the remarkable re-birth of a country and a people, overnight in historical terms, after the murder and destruction of the Shoah?

Who has ever seen anything as strange as this?

Who ever heard of such a thing?

Has a nation ever been born in a single day?

Has a country ever come forth in a mere moment?

But by the time Jerusalem’s birth pains begin, her children will be born.

“Would I ever bring this nation to the point of birth and then not deliver it?”

asks the Lord.

“No! I would never keep this nation from being born,”

says your God.

Israel’s place in the world is as clear as the daylight for all those who open their eyes, and their hearts, to see.

The Jewish people’s miraculous survival and triumph over baseless hatred and destruction are defined by just three words: Am Yisrael Chai! 

The literal translation is “the nation of Israel lives.”

But the resonance for many Jews is much deeper. It represents pride in the Jews’ history of overcoming persecution and adversity – and determination and confidence that we will be able to meet any challenges the future might bring.

With your support – and your blessing – the Jewish People and the Jewish State will continue to prosper and flourish.

So please join me as we all say together –

Am Yisrael Chai

This speech was given by Yair Miller OAM last Sunday evening 30th April 2018 at the North Shore Synagogue in Lindfield, Sydney at the event “Nations Bless Israel” organised by The North Shore Synagogue and the Rev. Hon. Fred Nile in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the Jewish State.

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