Israel is the very embodiment ofJe wish continuity: It is the only nation on earth thatinhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store.
The stakes could not be higher. It is my contention that on Israel - on its existence
and survival - hangs the very existence and survival of the Jewish people. Or, to
put the thesis in the negative, that the end of Israel means the end of the Jewish
The return toZion is now the principal drama ofJewish history. What began as an
experiment has become the very heart of the Jewish people - its cultural, spiritual,
and psychological center, soon to become itsdemographic center as well. Israel is
the hinge. Upon it rest the hopes--the only hope--forJewish continuity and
Many terms for the Land exist in other languages. The English call it "Palestine",
and theGermans "Palastina", having adopted the name through the course of
generations from the Greek and Romaninhabitants of theMediterranean coast. As
seagoing peoples, the Greeks and Romans first discovered the Land of Israel
through direct contact with its Philistineinhabitants who according to the Old
Testament (see Amos 9:7; Jeremiah 47:4; Deuteronomy 2:23), came from
Caphtor, which may probably be identified with Crete. A Pelasgian origin was
also suggested, but modern scholars believe that the Philistines, undoubtedly
immigrants, came from Crete.
During the period of Roman rule the land was divided into districts: "Palestina
Prima" in the South, "Palestina Secunda" in the central portion, and "Palestina
Tertia" in the southern part ofTransjordan. The English also called the country
"the Holy Land", and the French "Terre Sainte", from the Latin "Terra Sancta".
The State of Israel issued a special medallion bearing the words "Terra Sancta"
for non-Jewish pilgrims. The English "Land of Israel" and the French "Pays
d'Israel" appear inChristian literature, and writers have called their books on the
Land by these names. Another name common among non-Jews is "the promised
land", found in Latin literature and maps of the country. The English and
"Das Gelobte Land" (the praiseworthy land) appears inGerman literature
praiseworthy for the great events which occurred during the time ancient Israel
dwelt in the homeland of the Holy Scriptures and cradle ofChristianity.
) in theI s l ami c version of Moses' words to the people of
Israel: "Enter, my people, the Holy Land whichAllah has assigned for you"
(Koran, 5, "The Table", 24).
Today the Arabs call the land "Falestin", the Arabic version of "Palestina",
appearing in ancientJewish literature. This name is found also in medieval Arabic
literature, where it designates only a part of the Land of Israel, the southern
district and its capital Ramla, corresponding to the ancient Roman "Palestina
). This was
also the name of anArabic newspaper published inJerusalem. These nationalists
hoped to annex the Land of Israel, then under British rule, toSyria, where an
Place in the Global Community: Israel is actually a natural leader and model for would-be developing nations. In the early '60s, Israel had perhaps the single most successful program of "peace corps" volunteers and professionals in the world. How did the Israelis know all about the Entebbe airport? They built it.
America is a country that has never had to conduct foreign policy as process, or
felt the need to look upon diplomacy as a continuing set of relationships. Nor has
it ever known tragedy as a people. By contrast the Jewish people have
experienced an endless series of tragedies. Moreover; Americansinhabita
continent, while Israelisinhabit a territory which, at its widest point, is 50 miles--
from theJordan to the sea. Reconciling the imperatives of a superpower with the
necessities of an ancient people is no simple matter.
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