An extraordinary moment is here. Israel begins celebrating 70 years of statehood.
It is the greatest miracle of the modern era.
The story is gripping, both the lead-up to declaring statehood and the aftermath. And beyond.
Most of us know the basics: after 30 years of waiting, world Jewry stood poised to have its own country again, after two millennia. The United Nations voted on November 29, 1947 to partition what remained of Mandate Palestine.
(That is a key point, because originally, all of Palestine—which included today’s country of Jordan—would have been the Jewish state.)
The Arabs said no, the Jews said yes.
Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion spoke into a microphone inside a nondescript building in Tel Aviv at 4 p.m., May 14, 1948.
And Isaiah 66:8 was fulfilled.
The story of the days just before this announcement make the hairs stand up on one’s neck.
I read a terrific article about it this week, and was reminded once again of the sheer number of enemies Israel has always had. In this case, Secretary of State George Marshall played the role. Notice this account of his meeting with an envoy of Ben-Gurion’s:
“Nevertheless, America still expressed doubts about partition. Secretary of State George Marshall met with Moshe Sharett, acting as the provisional government’s foreign minister, on May 8. Marshall warned, ‘It’s not up to me to advise you what to do. But as a military man, I want to tell you: don’t rely on your military advisers. They’re intoxicated with success after their victories. What happens if there’s a protracted invasion? Are you considering how that will weaken you?’”
How pathetic that Marshall would try to muscle the Jews, even as they escaped Europe’s ovens. We know that Marshall also basically threatened President Truman not to recognize the new Jewish state, but HST wasn’t afraid of him and did it anyway.
The momentous moment came when Ben-Gurion “marshaled” support where he needed it most:
“Emerging from the Mapai meeting with a majority in favor of a state, Ben-Gurion spent most of the next day in an 11-hour meeting with the People’s Administration, three of whose members were absent, one in the U.S. and two trapped in Jerusalem. Here the actual decision for declaring the state was made. With somber reports from military heads Yigal Yadin and Yisrael Galili, and bad news pouring in from the fronts, it was not surprising that the vote was close: 6-to-4 in favor of proclaiming statehood.”
Am Yisrael Chai!