Challenging the myths
In her Declaration of Independence, Israel declares that all her citizens – Jewish and non-Jewish – are equal under the law. Israel was declared a Jewish state by the United Nations in 1947, and came into existence on 14 May 1948. Israel is one country where the official language is Hebrew; the national holidays are Jewish holidays; the Jewish culture is the national culture. However – Israel’s minority groups, especially its sizable Arab minority, have equal democratic rights, including;
• Freedom of the press
• Religious freedom
• Freedom to assemble and to demonstrate
• The right to vote their own representatives into office – Arabs have multiple political parties; currently there are 14 Israeli Arabs in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament)
• Israel is the only democracy in the Arab world.
The United Nations granted legitimacy to Israel becoming the home of the Jewish people in 1948 – BUT Israel is more than 3000 years old, having been established by Almighty God Himself:
“The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:8).
He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit” (Psalm 105:8-11).
While in Israel for three months in 2011, I spent the first two weeks at a two-week training course to become a representative for a Christian pro-Israel support organisation. I learnt much about Jewish history, culture, religion, conflicts and the complexities of life in Israel. It was informative and quite disconcerting to begin to comprehend something of the many challenges the people of Israel – Jews and Arabs – experience.
Apart from the normal life issues such as the high cost of living, high level of poverty and housing shortage, there is the persistent threat of terrorism and attack from angry Arab nations intent on annihilating this tiny nation. Despite all that, Israelis go about their daily business, making the most of their lives.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of life in Israel is living under the constant media attacks that bombard Israel, demonising, delegitimising, denigrating the people and those who support her. What is reported in the media is often so far from the reality of what is happening in Israel, and is usually biased against the Israelis.
Israel is God’s Chosen Land, and the Jews His Chosen People – however, He has not forgotten the Arabs who live in the land. There is so much more to the complexity of this place.