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Endurance Defines the Greatest Dream That Is Israel

Endurance Defines the Greatest Dream That Is Israel
Israeli Air Force planes fly over the Mediterranean sea during Israel's Independence Day in 2015. It has been just over 69 years since the founding of the state in 1948. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

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Thursday, 08 June 2017 10:58 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Why does every child yearn to go to the Magic Kingdom? What is the magic to be found there? The answer is given by the slogan that is synonymous with Disneyland — it is "where dreams come true." Walt Disney tapped into a universal human longing — to have a dream come true. Indeed, the essence of a fairy tale ending is a long-cherished dream against all odds being realized.

Much of Hollywood is similarly devoted to transporting us to a world where dreams come true. People are desperate to believe, even if for only a few hours of fantasy, that such things can happen. The princess will meet her prince. The fair maiden will be rescued. The final lines of "Pretty Woman" say it all, "[T]his is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don't; but keep on dreamin' — this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin'."

We flock to movies for the same reason we loved the Magic Kingdom as children — to experience a few precious moments of dreams coming true.

Hollywood is said to be larger than life and so we expect its dreams are too. Real life is supposed to contain smaller dreams or big ones that only partly come true. Yet, just how large is the typical Hollywood dream? The romantic fairy tale is the realization of a dream held by two people for perhaps 20 or 30 years. The impossible heroic rescue ends a nightmare that may have begun no more than a few years before.

Yesterday, June 7, was the 50-year anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. There is a simple reason why all humanity should celebrate this event together. The anniversary is fundamentally not about war or politics. At its core, we are commemorating the most dramatic instance of a dream coming true in human history.

The dream is not that of a handful of people, but instead of an entire nation — and an entire religion. The dream was held not for a lifetime or a few generations, but for nearly two millennia. The dream was maintained in the face of relentless persecution and only realized by a victory so implausible that no Hollywood script writer would dare to write it.

We begin the tale 3,800 years ago when Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob settle in a land later to be called Israel and become the patriarchs of a new nation and the world’s first monotheistic religion. Driven by famine to Egypt, their people find themselves enslaved for centuries, but are led back to the land of Israel, which they believe was eternally given to them by God.

For centuries, long before Christianity and Islam even existed, they lived in Judea and Samaria, now called by some the West Bank. More than 2800 years ago they built a Temple in Jerusalem believed to be so holy that God’s presence would dwell there.

Nearly 2000 years ago, the Temple was destroyed and, although some Jews managed to live in Jerusalem at all times, the majority of people were scattered throughout the earth.

They became the ultimate refugees, expelled from one country after another, year after year, century after century. Time and again anti-Semitism would rise and many thousands would be tortured or massacred. The crusades, multiple pogroms, the Spanish Inquisition — history was a relentless tale of persecution. Finally, they suffered the greatest genocide in history, the Holocaust, during which fully one third of all the people perished.

Yet through it all the people maintained a dream that one day they would return to their ancestral land. No matter how difficult life became, they clung to their religion and culture.

Three times a day they prayed facing Jerusalem and the Holy Temple that was no more. Every Passover Seder they celebrated leaving slavery in Egypt for Israel and ended the Seder saying "Next Year in Jerusalem." Even the Holocaust could not extinguish the dream.

The rebirth of the modern state of Israel on May 14, 1948 was the partial realization of the dream — partial because most of the land where the ancient kingdoms of Israel were located — Judea and Samaria — was not included. Missing from Israel were many holy and historic cities, like Hebron and Jericho. Indeed, half of Jerusalem was missing, including the site of the Holy Temple (the Temple Mount). Jews could no longer even go to the Western Wall — part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

Fifty years ago, all the major Arab nations massed their armies with the express goal of destroying Israel and driving its inhabitants into the sea. Israel was vastly outnumbered in troops, tanks, and airplanes. Simply surviving would make a great movie. Routing its enemies in six days was unfathomable, and yet this was just the preamble.

The real dream come true is that Israel with a united capital of Jerusalem had finally become a reality. The indigenous people of the land of Israel who had waited for two millennia to again control the site of their Temple had now liberated their holiest site. For the first time in scores of generations, Jews could safely pray at the Western Wall and travel to Hevron where the Patriarchs are buried.

No matter one’s position on "settlements" or the one-or two-state solutions, anyone can celebrate the triumph of an indigenous people returning to their holiest sites after praying for such a miracle for 2,000 years. It is not inconsistent to desire that the Palestinian people have a better life and also revel in the triumph of unshakeable faith rewarded.

Today, let’s all take a moment to appreciate that one of the most audacious dreams in history actually did come true.

Dr. Philip J. Rosenthal is the co-founder and president of Fastcase, Inc. (www.fastcase.com) and was the 2016 Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party nominee for Congress in the N.Y. 10th, the district that includes Wall Street and Ground Zero. To read more of his reports — Go Here Now.

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Today, let’s all take a moment to appreciate that one of the most audacious dreams in history actually did come true.
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Thursday, 08 June 2017 10:58 AM
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