Recently, Israel celebrated 61 years, and still there are those who do not want to call it by name and who say it had no right to be born. It has lost 22,570 soldiers in war, and 3,000 citizens in terrorist attacks, but the population has not abandoned the stone houses, alleys and restaurants of Jerusalem, nor have beaches and bars of Tel Aviv been deserted; no one has stopped attending schools or universities; its high tech sector is among the first in the world, its Philharmonic Orchestra is among the most esteemed, its medicine, physics and agriculture win Nobel Prizes; and its Supreme Court is an example of propriety.
Yet there are those who allege the Jewish State is there by accident; parachuted into an area that it has nothing to do with; in the Middle East only in order to fulfill a vast colonialist and racist design, or else was built to make up for the Europeans' guilt after the Holocaust which, however, never happened.
In short, that Israel must disappear.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas and Hezbollah say it openly, while others think it. Benjamin Netanyahu proposes to start to talk again of “two states for two peoples,” provided that Mahmoud Abbas recognizes Israel as a Jewish State. But Mahmoud Abbas said again just recently that he does not accept it, and the reason is clear: he does not want to allow an obstacle to the “right of return,” or to the idea of Israel as a “State of its citizens,” which would then demographically overwhelm Israel’s Jewish majority.
According to Efraim Karsh, the PA has also gone to great lengths to repudiate any Jewish connection to the Esplanade of Mosques, under which lies Temple Mount in Jerusalem or, to the Land of Israel itself. Even at the Camp David summit of July 2000, several Palestinian negotiators denied the existence of King Solomon’s Temple and Arafat himself told Clinton that the temple had been located in Nablus rather than in Jerusalem.
And under the Esplandade of Mosques lie the memories of the Second Great Jewish Temple of Herod, destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans. Josephus Flavius described like a reporter the flames and ruin.
The Jewish people laid their roots in Israel more than 4000 years ago; one-thousand years before Christ, King David unified its twelve tribes, never entirely abandoned even in times of deadly persecution, always present in the Jewish prayers. In the 1800s (well before the Holocaust), Jews came back to be the majority there. Meanwhile, whoever was the overlord of the time - crusaders, Arabs, Ottomans - in places such as Tiberias, Rafah, Gaza, Ashkelon, Jaffa, Caesarea, Safed, Haifa, Nablus - always saw, over the centuries, groups of Jews stuck to their stones. A nation with its language and its traditions, both at home and in the greater diaspora.
There, in the diaspora, Zionism was born, the movement that brought the Jews back home, while Ben Yehuda in Jerusalem rebuilt the entire Hebrew language that had been spoken in the Biblical texts. It was in the 1800s and in the first years of the 1900s (Tel Aviv was founded in 1909) that the Zionist movement was organized - and not after the Holocaust. The Jews founded the University of Jerusalem and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra; they died of malaria reclaiming the wetlands; they founded the Betzalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem, Toscanini directed the Philharmonic Orchestra of Tel Aviv, they organized clandestine immigration in spite of European opposition, from countries that had turned away ships carrying refugees, even during the Holocaust. The Jews lived their history of irredentism like many other peoples, and in 1917, the Balfour Declaration was the first document that recognized their right to self-determination. Long before the Holocaust.
Churchill said that no people so much as Jews are tied to Palestine. Even the image of the unaware Arabs punished by imperialism, is false: it is enough to recall Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader, who was a very active friend of Adolf Hitler, or the Nazis hiding in Egypt, or the anti-Semitic hatred that resulted in 800,000 Jews fleeing from Arab countries. They found a Grand Mufti, Jerusalem, and a landing place precisely in the Jewish State.
Ironically, those who negate Israel create the indispensability of its existence.
Translated by Amy K. Rosenthal
Vice-president, Committee on Foreign Affairs
Italian Chamber of Deputies
This article originally appeared in Il Giornale, on April 29, 2009.