A view from Israel: The importance of Israel
If only the world would appreciate the Jewish people, recognize its importance in the world and join it in its quest for tikkun olam (repairing the world). If only.
PM Binyamin Netanyahu at UN Photo: REUTERS
If only the world would appreciate the Jewish people, recognize its importance
in the world and join it in its quest for tikkun olam (repairing the world). If
Just over a week ago, the world was perhaps only murmuring about
Israel’s demand for red lines on Iran. Today, everyone is all abuzz about
While the world mocks the Looney Tunes-type bomb graphic Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used during his speech before the UN General
Assembly, it appears to have gotten the message across. The message was
delivered when Netanyahu pulled out his marker and drew a thick red line
demonstrating the point at which Iran needs to be stopped.
worldwide attention doesn’t necessarily translate into action. Many
people believe that Israel is acting solely for the sake of its own
interests. This is, in fact, not true. The nations of the world fail to
recognize that the Jewish people have always longed for the welfare of others as
well as our own.
According to the Talmud, as long as the Temple stood, 70
bulls were offered as a sacrifice each year on Succot in recognition of the 70
cultures comprising the gentile world. Gentiles would even come to the Temple to
pray. Since then, and up to and including the present, the Jewish people have
valued and continue to value the uniqueness of other nations.
other religions, Judaism does not seek to proselytize others but rather aims to
maintain its diversity and encourage its well-being. The Jewish people not only
long to eliminate the anti-Semitism that so often blinds other nations, but also
actively demonstrate a desire for peace as a basic tenet of our
In synagogues across America, congregations pray for the welfare
of the American government. One of the many blessings that exist in Jewish
tradition is one that is said upon seeing a just ruler.
celebrate the holiday of Succot, in which we sit in shelters outside. One
of the many reasons we do so, according to Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Alter of Gur, is
to demonstrate our desire for peace both among Jews and among the world’s
nations. The succa epitomizes peace. In addition, we take four species of
vegetation that are not normally found together and bring them together in a
symbolic act of unity. The prophet Zechariah predicts that in the future all
nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate Succot in recognition of the
holiday’s important message. Thus the Jewish holiday of Succot has worldwide
significance and international implications. Clearly, the Jewish nation,
at its very core, desires peace, unity and reconciliation – and we take it
AND SO, when Israel’s representatives stand before other
nations, especially at the UN, their message is meant to rally others to join us
in our quest for tikkun olam and assist in creating working relationships among
nations to create a better world.
Israel is at the forefront of
technological development and has brought significant, positive change to many
third-world countries. Israel is expanding frontiers in the worlds of
science and medicine. Nations that develop ties with Israel find many advantages
to maintaining a close relationship.
While the response is clearly never
enthusiastic enough – especially at the UN, where there is an automatic majority
against Israel – the underlying message should not be ignored.
seeks peaceful relations with all nations of the world, based on a Jewish,
biblical-era practice of recognizing the importance of each nation.
nation is distinct and Israel is no exception. Those who believe that Israel
must “fit in” among the nations of the world forget that the Jewish people’s
strength specifically comes from remaining distinct from other
Were the world to recognize the benefits it receives from the
blessings of the Jewish people, it would embrace us rather than mock us.