The Worldwide Impact of Israel’s Rebirth
The rebirth of Israel seventy-four years ago had a tremendous impact throughout the world, especially among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Each of these religious communities reacted in differing ways to the dramatic events of May 1948, which sent out shock waves that are still reverberating to this day.
When considering Israel’s re-emergence as a nation seventy-four years ago, it must first be remembered that this did not happen in a vacuum. The world did not just wake up one day and find the Jewish state on its doorstep. Rather, Israel’s national rebirth occurred within a certain historic context, and that context is forever linked to the Holocaust. The miracle of restored Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Israel is only magnified when we take into account that it took place just three years after the horrific depths of the Nazi genocide against the Jews were exposed. The Holocaust marked the nadir of the Jewish people’s long and arduous journey of wandering among the nations. And yet just three years after they hit their lowest point, the Jewish people were able to attain something which had eluded them for nearly two millennia – national independence back in their ancient homeland.
So, it is fair to say that the rebirth of Israel came as something of a shock to the Jewish people themselves. Their response was one of relief and a feeling of historic vindication. For centuries, the Christian world, in particular, had insisted that the Jews were cursed to endless wanderings for killing Christ, and yet here they were back in charge of their own country once again. This demonstrated that God still had an enduring covenant relationship with the Jews. The Israeli people also were determined to use their newfound freedom to defend themselves from another Holocaust.
Meantime, the Holocaust came as a moral shock to the Christian world. We knew that Christian antisemitic teachings had played a key role in the Nazi genocide against the Jews. After all, Hitler had so many willing Christian accomplices to his inhumane crimes against the Jews not because they were enamored with his political views on national socialism, but rather the established churches of Europe had taught the people for centuries to hold the Jews in utter contempt.
Still, if we only had the Holocaust, many Christians would point to it as just another example of the ‘curse’ in operation against the Jews. Rather, it was the national rebirth of Israel just three years later which came as such a great theological shock to the Christian world. Suddenly, it was hard to defend the teaching of the permanence of Jewish exile. Therefore, many churches began to reconsider their antagonistic theological positions, such as Replacement theology and the odious charge of Deicide. The changes brought by the Vatican II Council are examples of the type of much-needed introspection within the Christian world.
However, some church leaders to this day refuse to adjust their theology to match the reality of a restored Israel. They would rather try to change the reality back to fit their theology of a scattered Israel. Thus, we find churches and theologians joining the BDS campaign and other efforts to delegitimize and destroy Israel. How long will they continue to resist God?
Finally, the rebirth of Israel in 1948 came a crushing theological and cultural shock to the Arab and Muslim world. This is because for centuries, Islam had taught Muslims that they belonged to a superior faith and therefore they were a superior people with a natural right to rule over Jews and Christians. This was the religious and legal basis for the unjust dhimmi system which prevailed throughout the Middle East and North Africa for some 1400 years, relegating Christian and Jewish minorities to second-class citizenship under Muslim domination.
Yet when Israel emerged victorious in 1948, the Arab and Muslim world could not accept it. How could a rag-tag band of inferior Jews, long rejected by their God, beat larger Muslim armies on the field of battle? And how could they do so just three years after the Jews suffered through the ravages of the Holocaust? This all had to be explained away! And thus emerged the endless string of bizarre conspiracy theories about Israel’s unlikely triumph seventy-four years ago.
For example, the Western colonialists are said to have conspired to implant Israel in the middle of the Arab world. And the Americans were secretly fighting alongside the Jews in 1948. Or the Zionists and Nazis collaborated in the Holocaust to win world sympathy for the Jews and swindle the Arabs and Muslims out of their lands. Or perhaps the Holocaust was not a bad as some claim, and maybe only 600,000 Jews died – as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has insisted.
Herein lies the root of Muslim attraction to Zionist conspiracy theories and even Holocaust denial. The evil Jews must have lied and manipulated their way to triumph and independence. Herein also lies the root of Palestinian rejection of Jewish sovereignty anywhere in the Land of Israel to this day. They simply cannot make peace on equal terms with an inherently inferior people, who follow an inferior faith. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved until this superior Islamist mentality fades away.
Having said all this, it is hard to deny that the rebirth of Israel seventy-four years ago was anything but a miracle which defies explanation. Indeed, there were a succession of miracles and inexplicable events great and small which led to Israel’s restoration. For instance, when Theodor Herzl finally had a brief encounter with the German Kaiser, it was not exactly what he planned, yet it set off a competition among the Great Powers of Europe over who would be the patron of his proposed Jewish state. There also was the strange story of how the Ottoman Turks were drawn into World War One, eventually causing them to lose their vast holdings in Arab lands – including Palestine to the British. And there was, of course, the improbable triumph of that rag-tag band of Jewish defenders over superior Arab forces which gave us the reborn nation of Israel in 1948.