A mere 11 minutes after Israel’s founding, on May 14, 1948, America recognized Israel – a fact that we, as American Jewish Zionists, are certainly proud to acknowledge. In the 75 years since, our two countries maintain a strong and enduring bilateral relationship.
This bond is not limited to the political realm but also extends to the close ties between the American Jewish community and our brethren in Israel. As we prepare to celebrate Israel’s diamond jubilee, we recognize that even amidst ongoing domestic strife, there is much to be proud of and to celebrate.
Israel’s journey since its founding is nothing short of miraculous. The newborn nation narrowly avoided annihilation during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and is forced to fight for its survival every day for the past 75 years. And yet, despite near-constant threats from external enemies, Israel has managed to become a model society and a beacon for the entire world.
It assimilated waves of immigrants, from Holocaust survivors to Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent to refugees from the former Soviet Union and Africa. Israel’s thriving economy rightly earned the nickname “the start-up nation.”
It also established itself as a leader in water management, desalination and disaster relief. But Israel’s achievements do not stop there. The country is a pioneer in public health programs, providing the world with valuable lessons in vaccine distribution and administration, as well as in innovative treatments and technologies.
But our bond with Israel is not just limited to the United States. We are engaging younger generations in Israel and around the world, building our future with the support of world Jewry.
Reconnecting with our core values
On Israel’s 75th anniversary, we are reconnecting with our core values – those that led to Israel’s founding and that continue to drive us – out of a sense of mission, love and Zionism. We seek to foster the values of mutual responsibility and unity within the Jewish people and to strengthen the bonds of the covenant between Israeli society and the world.
Despite tremendous progress, Israel is still very much threatened by external enemies. Iran-backed terrorists recently launched a wave of rocket attacks and shootings targeting civilians, causing widespread destruction and loss of life. While Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system is effective in preventing deaths from these attacks, it cannot stop the campaign to delegitimize Israel.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to attack Israel’s economic, cultural and academic ties, with the goal of leaving the country isolated and vulnerable. So-called “pro-Palestinian activists” continue to deny Israel’s right to exist and engage in antisemitic rhetoric and actions.
As Zionists, we must remain vigilant in the fight against these existential threats. We must continue to oppose the BDS movement and to call out antisemitism wherever we see it.
We must also work to forge ever-closer ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors, as best exemplified by the growing Abraham Accords. And we must urge governments to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA)’s definition of antisemitism, which recognizes how antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric too often bleed into one another.
Israel’s 75th anniversary is a milestone, a moment to look backward and forward, to savor the victories of the past and plan the triumphs of the future, even as we acknowledge considerable internal debate. Jewish unity and the values we transmit to the next generation will always be our lodestar. Modern Israel has, in the words of the psalmist, taken off the sackcloth of persecution and girded us with gladness. We say a hearty “Shehechiyanu” (blessing of gratitude) on this occasion.
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Follow him at @Daroff.