On May 14, 1948, Israel declared itself a new independent country, as the British Mandate of Palestine expired. The declaration of independence stated that the country will be “for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
It welcomed everyone.
Unfortunately, at that same time, the Arabs in Palestine had been rioting and killing Jews for many months in attempts to stop the Jewish State from coming into existence. Once Israel declared its independence, five armies from neighboring Arab countries came to destroy the nascent state. The war would go on for months. Israel survived.
Despite the Arab war against the Jews before Israel’s independence and after, Israel remained true to its vision of welcoming non-Jews as full citizens in the country. Approximately 156,000 non-Jews became citizens of Israel at the Jewish State’s rebirth, around 18% of the population. In 2018, 70 years later, the non-Jewish population in Israel stands at over 2 million people, representing over 25% of the Israeli population.
The Arab citizens of Israel have availed themselves of the open society that Israel created.
- There are currently 18 Arabs in the Israeli Knesset, 15% of the parliament. By way of comparison, there are only 50 blacks (9%) in the US Congress
- Israel has non-Jewish Arabs on the Supreme Court, Salim Joubran being the first in 2004
- Non-Jews have served as Israeli ambassadors around the world, including to Norway and the Dominican Republic
- Non-Jews serve as generals in the Israeli army
Non-Jews are a key fabric of Israeli society, as envisioned in the Israeli declaration on May 14, 1948 that welcomed non-Jews to “participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.”
It is appropriate to take the time to celebrate Israel’s non-Jewish citizens that chose to make peace with Israel, not war; that chose to help build the state, not to dismantle it; that chose to stay and be friends and neighbors with Jews, not to run and fight alongside the Jewish State’s enemies.
Regrettably, there are anti-Zionists that continue to undermine and attack Israel, who refer to the failed 1948 war to destroy the Jewish State as a “Nakba,” a “catastrophe.” As they channel their hatred on May 15th with angry calls to “Free Palestine,” let Zionists around the world commemorate “Neighbor’s Day,” a day to mark and celebrate the many non-Jews who stayed to become citizens of Israel in 1948 and continue to help the country thrive 70 years on.
Related First.One.through articles:
Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough
Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis