Judaism declares that the age of overt miracles ended with the prophet Malachi, the last of the prophets of Israel. Before that time, miracles were easy to discern. There could be no other assumption that whatever wonder that was being witnessed was a miracle wrought by G-d: the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the walls of Jericho — miracles. We Jews don’t believe that miracles have ceased to occur, but that after Malachi’s time they are harder to recognize. It is up to us to see a marvelous event and recognize that it is more than some piece of “luck,” or some random occurrence. We have the responsibility of recognizing miracles — G-d’s work — when they happen. According to dictionary.com, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.”
According to David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, “in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.” The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 was a miracle! The survival of the state of Israel in 1948 after being attacked by the combined armies of five Arab states was a miracle! The spectacular six-day victory of the state of Israel in 1967 was a miracle! The victory of Israel after being attacked by surprise in 1973 was a miracle! These military triumphs in the face of incredible odds must be recognized for the acts of G-d that they indisputably were. Under ordinary circumstances, they should not have occurred. They meet the very definition of “miracle” as set forth above.
But the miracles surrounding the state of Israel are not limited to military victories. I first went to Israel in 1965. It was a Third World country. It had a subsistence economy. In the exquisite phrase of Tennessee Williams, it “relied upon the kindness of strangers.” However, this circumstance was only temporary. Israel exploded with creativity and growth. Each time that I have returned since then it has changed. Israel is now so far from being a Third World country that much of the First World relies upon Israel for technological innovation. Israel is, in every sense of the phrase, a First World country. After only 70 years in existence. Another miracle.
Sometimes, G-d Almighty protects us from ourselves. Twice, Israeli prime ministers offered huge swaths of Judea and Samaria (known to some as the “West Bank”) to the so-called “Palestinians.” The miracle was that, contrary to any logic or sense, G-d hardened the hearts of the Palestinians and they refused to accept this insane gift. Israel was saved from its own blindness and stupidity by a miracle.
I will at this point respond to a persistent defamation of Israel. Too many people (either ignorant or malevolent) like to point to the $3 billion annually that Israel receives from the United States as evidence that Israel is a mendicant; reliant upon the charity of the U.S. for its very existence. They are either unaware or they deliberately ignore the fact that Israel must pay interest on much of that money. They are also either unaware or they deliberately ignore the fact that much of that money must be spent in the U.S., and that much of it must be spent on the American defense industry. They are also ether unaware or they deliberately ignore the fact that Israel is (unfortunately) the place where highly sophisticated American weapons systems can be tested under combat conditions. Finally, they are also either unaware or deliberately ignore the fact that Israel tweaks these highly sophisticated weapons systems, and shares with the U.S. the benefits of these improvements. We in the U.S. get a significant bang for the three billion bucks that we send to Israel.
A few weeks ago, one of these ignorant or malevolent critics of Israel wrote a letter to the Charleston Post and Courier. In that letter he made the claim that “Israel is as much a danger to world peace as the Iranians.” As you may be aware, it is one of my firm precepts that no lie should be permitted to go unanswered, so I responded with the following letter:
“It is difficult to know how to respond to such arrant nonsense. The fact that Israel possesses powerful weapons is, in fact, a deterrent to the enemies of Western civilization — Iran being at the top of the list of that infamous group. Israel is the practical equivalent of an American supercarrier group, on station in the Mediterranean 24/7. Israel’s strength is a deterrent to war and a guarantor of peace. To say otherwise is to spit in the face of truth.”
As I have repeated on innumerable occasions, no American should be asked to provide anything to Israel (or any other nation) without there being a significant American interest for doing so. The U.S. has struggled and continues to struggle to find allies in other parts of the world who are as steadfast, stable and advanced as Israel. Its not that we are “giving” Israel anything. We wish that we could find other allies who would provide us with as much value as does Israel. Not likely. G-d doesn’t do miracles on a whim. Israel is the result of G-d’s promise, and we Americans are reaping the reward. This is not to be taken lightly.
On May 14 a continuation of a miracle occurred. The U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem and declared that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. I use the word “continuation” because it was the manifestation of a miracle that began on Election Day, 2016. Donald J. Trump was elected president of the U.S.. Anyone who refuses to believe that his election was an “extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers” is not thinking clearly. How else to describe that election?
Cyrus the Great was the King of Persia. He defeated the Babylonians and, 70 years after the Jews were taken in exile from their land, Cyrus allowed us to return to the land of our fathers, the land that G-d had given to us in perpetuity. Now, Donald Trump, president of the U.S., the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth by far, has recognized and declared that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel. Furthermore, that recognition occurred 70 years after the creation of the modern Jewish state, the successor to 4,000 years of our patrimony in that place. Is that not a miracle? Is it not ironic that our greatest enemy is Iran, that was once Persia? I have no idea what it all means. I have no idea what G-d has in store. But I can say without equivocation that these events constitute miracles.
It is not my purpose to become eschatological in these pages. Whether you view Israel as the culmination of G-d’s gift to the Jews and the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy, or if you simply view it as a convenient fixture in the Middle East that enables the U.S. to successfully pursue its foreign policy, is really immaterial.
As for myself I will never stop viewing Israel as G-d’s gift, not only to the Jewish people, but to all mankind. I will never stop recognizing Israel as a genuine, incontrovertible, G-d given miracle.