Israel has always been a land of miracles.
In ancient times, even before its founding as a nation, Israel was blessed with an abundance of miraculous events, when, with the help of God, the Red Sea parted to allow the Israelites to flee from Egypt, and when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down as the Jews blew their trumpets in Canaan.
Later, it was a miracle when a single flask of oil in the Holy Temple burned inexplicably for eight days during the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire, and when the Israelite armies were supplied with much-needed water to survive in the desert of Moab.
In modern times, too, Israel has been a land of miracles.
With hard work and modern expertise, the Jewish state has, in its brief 69 years, been transformed from a desert wasteland into an agricultural Eden and a hodgepodge Babel of different ethnic cultures has evolved into one of the most technologically advanced nations on Earth.
Israel today has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and the second-highest level of education per capita (after Canada).
It also has one of the longest life expectancies — 82 years — longer than that of the United States, United Kingdom and Germany.
Israel has more Nobel Prizes per capita than the United States, France and Germany and more laureates, in real numbers, than India, Spain and China.
With a robust $300 billion economy, Israel’s GDP is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.
And all of those accomplishments are miraculous given that Israel boasts practically no natural resources or hydrocarbon energy reserves.
So it was no surprise that when Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Peled offered a belated national day reception last week, he spoke of miracles, past, present and future, with an optimistic view of the prospects of peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinian Authority.
“In May of 1948, David Ben-Gurion proclaimed to the world [the birth of] a new state based on liberty, justice and peace, as foreseen by the early prophets of Israel,” Peled told an audience of nearly 500 guests at the Centro Deportivo Israelita in Lomas de Sotelo on Friday, May 19.
“Against all the elements of wind, storm and fire, the millenarian dream to build a Jewish state in the Promised Land of our ancestors became a reality.”
Today, Peled said, Israel is a vibrant and pluralistic democracy with a hard-working and innovative people “who want to live in peace with their neighbors and to be recognized as a nation within the international global community.”
Peled pointed out that it was 70 years ago that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution partitioning the Land of Israel into two entities, a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Twenty years later, in November 1947, he said, Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem was liberated and unified, “and for the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple 2,000 years ago, Jews were allowed access to the Old City and the Wailing Wall.”
Peled said that, since that time, Jerusalem has become open and free to all religions and beliefs, a multiethnic city of tolerance and cultural coexistence.
“Israel still longs for peace, and will continue to struggle to reach that dream,” he said.
“Despite everything, we have managed to sign peace accords with Egypt and Jordan, and we have begun a peace and reconciliation process with the Palestinians.”
The ambassador admitted that the path to peace with the Palestinians poses a “long and difficult process,” but added that the people of Israel “still believe in miracles.”
It may, indeed, take a miracle or two to find a mutually acceptable peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians.
But as one Israeli recently commented on ABC News: “There is nothing perfect in the universe except God himself, so we are willing to accept an imperfect peace in order to end decades of war and suffering.”
Let us hope that all sides involved can see their way to an imperfect, but perhaps, miraculous peace.
And that would definitely be a miracle for all the world.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]