Sunset last night, April 27, 2022, was the official start of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and throughout the world for those who care to take part. Today, sirens blew throughout Israel as everyone, including speeding cars on superhighways, came to a stop, their occupants and drivers standing at attention while the sirens sounded. It is a show of respect and a recognition of the tremendous loss that was suffered by the Jewish people during the Holocaust. You cannot be in Israel and experience this without being moved, if not to tears, then perhaps to a better understanding of the cost of the loss of six million Jews who were killed by mankind’s hatred for no other reason than they were Jews.
Sometimes the question is asked, “Why the Jews?” The answer may be problematic for some, but my thoughts/opinion on it is the not-so-simple-word called jealousy. Going back to the beginning of recorded time, God has favored the Jewish people and made promises to them that they would (and did) inherit His land – the land of Israel – set aside for His purposes and His people. From the moment they went down to Egypt, 70 people in the family of Jacob, they have had to fight to survive. Generations later, as they came out of the bondage of Egypt – one million strong – into the freedom that would be theirs, they had to fight armies trying to destroy them as they marched through the desert. First it was Pharaoh and his underlings and then Moab and Ammon and others.
Even now, survival is the strongest influence in Israel pushing her to build a very strong IDF – Israel Defense Force. You notice, the word is defense not offense. As one well-spoken Israeli immigrant said, “We don’t fight other people’s wars. We fight our own.” And that is the way it has been with Israel since the very day she declared herself an independent state on May 14, 1948. The next day she was attacked by five Arab armies! By the grace and mercy of God, Israel survived in spite of the fact that many of her soldiers had just gotten off boats from Europe where they had barely survived the Holocaust. Most of them didn’t speak Hebrew nor had they ever held a weapon, yet they fought furiously knowing that for them – this was survival. More than 6,000 Israeli lives were lost in the war just because they didn’t understand the language of their newly founded land.
Since then, Israel has had to fight and fight and fight just to exist. Depending on how you choose to count it, Israel, in her short seventy-four years has had at least fifteen wars. Beginning with the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, moving on to the Palestinian Fedayeen insurgency in the 1950s into the 1960s, the Suez Crisis in 1956, the Six Day War in 1967, the 1973 Yom -Kippur War, and so on up to, and including, today from the constant terror attacks and threats by those that want to see her destroyed.
All the while Israel has continued to grow in population embracing Jews from around the world as they have heard the call of God and moved home – made Aliyah – to Israel. They have come with their old and infirmed, their infants, their wounded, their pregnant wives and their large families, but they have come home to their Israel and the hope that she holds.
Every nation in the world has watched as their Jews have chosen to leave to join the wave of Aliyah. Israel has flown immigrants in by the thousands, stripping seats and luxury from airliners in order to rescue those coming in from Ethiopia in Operations Moses and Solomon, lifting them out of famine and despair into freedom and a future, all at the expense of the Israeli government. Others have come in from India, China – yes China, South America, Central America, North America, Russia, Germany, France, England and many other countries, including a current influx from Ukraine. They are welcomed. They are taught Hebrew. They are allowed to live in freedom. They are fulfilling the biblical prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, coming home from the north, south, east and west.
Today, I stand with Israel in awe of all that she has embraced and defended and I pray for God’s continual hand of protection on her. Am Israel Chai! Israel Lives!