Here are some numbers to conjure with: 67; 23,320; 8,345,000; 6 million.
67 is, of course, the number of years that the State of Israel has been in existence and tomorrow is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day. Notwithstanding all their efforts, the enemies of Israel have not been able to destroy us or stop our growth and we are far bigger, stronger and more affluent now than we were in the beginning. In fact, although we are concerned about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, the fear of actual war is far less now than it was during most of Israel’s existence. The “traditional” Arab enemies of Israel, namely Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon are all hardly surviving. If I were a believer I would say that God has dealt harshly with them – Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are failing states, and Egypt and Jordan are very busy with their own internal problems.
But, the continuing existence of the State of Israel has come at a cost, namely 23,320 individuals who have been killed either as soldiers defending the State or as victims of terrorism. To me this exact number is unnerving, realizing that each of these people had a life, a family and a future that was suddenly cut off. I think of the photos of the soldiers flashed on the screen at the Yad Labanim House ceremonies in each city, town and village throughout Israel every year, and the pictures shown on TV from the reading of the names at the Knesset on each Memorial Day that is today and that immediately precedes Independence Day here in Israel, so we know at what price our independence was attained.
8,345,000 is the actual population of Israel today, up 13-fold from the mere 650,000 in 1948. This represents the in-gathering of the exiles, those who needed refuge and those who came by choice in order to support and gain from the Jewish State. Our many enemies, however ineffectual, should know that their efforts are as nothing compared to the resolve and determination of our sons and daughters to ensure the survival of Israel and the Jewish people. How happy would the 6 million victims of the Nazi Holocaust in Europe be if they could know that Israel, the Jewish State, exists and has a population of over 8 million. Here is a quick calculation, during the Holocaust from 1941-45 Jews were being killed at the rate of over 4,000 a day! During Israel’s existence of 67 years, Jews have been killed at the rate of ca. 350 per year or approx 1 per day. It doesn’t take much analysis to realize that being organized into a State with its own army is the best solution for the Jewish people. The numbers tell the story.