Since the late 1800s, the Jewish people have been returning to their treasured territory. Opposition to that return has been fierce and unrelenting. Nonetheless, in 1947, part of their land was restored to them by the United Nations.
Three major self-defensive wars against the Arabs (in 1948, 1967 and 1973) saw additional territory come back under Jewish control, in particular the cradle and crucible of their nationhood – Samaria and Judea with the cities of Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem with its Temple Mount – the holiest place on earth to both the Jews and their God.
Today, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah (marking the start of the Jewish New Year 5767) Israel’s population stands just short of 7,000,000. The breakdown is 5,3 million Jews, 1,4 million Muslim Arabs, 146,000 Christian Arabs, 115,200 Druze, and 272,000 citizens who remain unclassified by religion.
During the coming Jewish year, as the number of Israeli Jews heads towards six million – the same number murdered by Hitler 60 years ago – Israel will celebrate the 40th anniversary of her capital’s return.
And if President Bush and the world have their way, we could also see a final push to birth Palestine in the Holy Land.