The year 2014 brought a record aliya of Jews from France to Israel. The waves of anti-Semitism, the rise of radical Islam, and the delay of this ancient, respected country in identifying the growing threat have caused 6,677 Jewish citizens to get up and leave for safer shores – which they see in Israel, despite our being “surrounded by enemies.”
There are still 478,000 Jews living in France, and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry estimates that in 2015 at least 10,000 more French Jews will immigrate to Israel.
The Jews meanwhile have a privilege reserved just for them: a state which will absorb them and give them a home, will embrace them, whatever their age, their medical history, their profession – without asking any questions, and with a real desire, be it on the part of the authorities or the citizens, to welcome them with open arms.
The aliya from France is just one example of the security that the State of Israel gives every Jew, wherever he or she may be – an eternal guarantee that Jewish blood will never be worthless, and that when there is a storm a safe harbor waiting for them to come home.
The establishment of the State of Israel was a miracle: 650,000 refugees, without means, were living in a hostile environment at the time. Israel was born to provide shelter for every Jew that needs shelter, and so, during the first 18 months of its existence, while still fighting for breath, in a long, bloody War of Independence, with shortages of food, living quarters and basic means, absorbed – lovingly, and enthusiastically – another 650,000 penniless, broken refugees from Europe, Asia and Africa. Some old and many who had survived the concentration camps. Against all odds, this amazing state emerged, which today, too, comes under the heading of a “miracle.”
Israel of 2015 is a tiny island of democracy, stability, security and human rights in the murky, swirling seas that surround us. Not only does this tiny country succeed in the battlefield time after time against huge, rich countries that seek to destroy it, but also creates, invents, renews, initiates advances in technology, in science, in culture, runs a stable economy, and when it has some spare time, provides the world with a number of Nobel prize winners.
But there’s an explanation for the modern miracle of Israel: Israel has the added value of the Jewish people around the world, which provides our small state with ongoing support; resources; whole-hearted, unquestioning endorsement; full commitment and mobilization during times of crisis, acting as ambassadors for our hasbara in almost every corner of the globe – especially in combating the new form of anti-Semitism under the thinly veiled anti-Israel veneer. With the resources that are sent every year, the Jewish people around the world have helped to build hospitals, educational institutions, university campuses, parks, welfare institutions – everything that the people in Israel need. All this goes beyond the symbolic – it is a commitment to the Land of our Forefathers.
This bond that links the resilience and success of the State of Israel to Jews from throughout the world is absolute and unconditional. The State of Israel is the backbone of the Jewish people in the world, and the Jewish people are the backbone of the State of Israel – in good times and in bad, in times of war and times of peace.
We in the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) feel that special bond every single day. It is in the involvement, the concern, the never-ending support of a quarter of a million WIZO members, in 50 federations throughout the world, who are faithful spokespeople for the State of Israel, strong women who are strengthening society, and bringing positive changes to the lives of families in Israel.
95 years since its establishment, WIZO is a fascinating organization of Zionism, power, compassion and universal love – a sisterhood sharing a common destiny.
Every day I am grateful. The people of Israel are also grateful, acknowledging the huge input of world Jewry on everyday life in Israel, on the resilience of the Israeli people. Now, as is clear to all, Israel is not just the country of its inhabitants, it is also the natural home for the Jewish people from Jewish communities throughout the world.
One popular Israeli song includes the lyrics: “Over the honey and the sting, the bitter and the sweet – May we be blessed.”
In these days, when WIZO is holding its annual Meeting of Representatives, in which our leadership from throughout the world reviews our wide-ranging, fascinating work in 2014, and prepares for another year of efforts for the benefit of society in Israel, I want to convey my deepest gratitude to our faithful partners, the hundreds of thousands of WIZO members, wherever they may be. “For the bitter and the sweet – May we be blessed.”The writer is the chairperson of the World WIZO Executive.