Dr. Robert O. Freedman, in his JT column in the April 13 issue (“Israel at 70: Not Yet a ‘Light Unto the Nations’”), discusses the three goals that Zionist theoreticians in the 19th and 20th centuries posited for a future Jewish State; namely a safe haven for persecuted Jews, a place where Jews could live a “normal national life,” and a “light unto the nations.” He feels Israel has fallen far short of its third goal.
I feel that his assessment is due to his focus on what he perceives to be significant negatives in Israel. I prefer to look at the significant positives that Israel has contributed to the world through its humanitarian and economic aid. These include helping countries all over the world suffering from natural disasters, disease, hunger and poverty; Israel Defense Forces’ medical missions; providing life-saving heart operations to Jordanian, Iraqi and Palestinian children; sending humanitarian aid to Gaza despite attacks from Hamas; and sharing Israel’s technological expertise with various countries.
Nearly 60 years ago, I spent a year in Israel after graduating high school, and I clearly remember the support Israel was providing then to the various African and Asian countries. Our group was invited to the home of Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Israel’s second president. We were greeted by his wife, who offered an apology that her husband could not join us because he was on a relief mission to Africa.
For a young nation of only 70 years, Israel has certainly been a beacon of light unto the nations despite the constant threat to its survival. Providing total freedom of religion to its Christian and Muslim minorities is unique in its geographical region. Its contributions in the areas of medical research, technological advancements and agricultural innovations are legendary. Of course, there are the constant challenges in all sectors of life in Israel, but I am so impressed with its accomplishments and its desire to improve upon its own weaknesses, as it continues to contribute to the good and welfare of the world at large.