31 Aug The Courage to Do the Impossible
The Courage to Do the Impossible
By Doron Almog, Chairman of the Executive, The Jewish Agency for Israel
I was recently reminded of the words of Judah Leib Magnes who, in his desperation after the invasion of Arab armies on May 15, 1948, sent a telegram to the US State Department and asked to cut off U.S. funding to the recently founded country. It is better for Jews to be loyal citizens of their countries and not insist on building a Jewish state in a place that promises endless violent conflict with its Arab inhabitants, Magnes believed.
Since its inception, Zionism’s essence has been an expression of action. From the end of the 19th century, when it went on to become an impressive national movement, Zionism sought to change an existing reality – even if this was seen as hopeless. The dream of establishing a national home for the Jewish people would not have come true if Jews had continued to live in small communities around the world, and had not decided to stand up, come to Israel and impact change.
The crisis that the State of Israel is facing today is the most acute and dangerous crisis since its establishment. The spirit of the founders’ generation – my parents’ generation – the heart that shaped the State of Israel and the Declaration of Independence was to achieve the impossible, against all odds, in a courageous partnership with Jewish communities around the world, and especially with American Jewry which numbered about five million at the time. Most of the financing for the war came from the American community. Jewish volunteers from all over the world came to help our forces, including our first pilots and several senior commanders, including: Lou Lenart who bombed the Egyptian forces trying to advance on Tel Aviv; Ben Dunkelman who commanded the 7th Brigade in its glorious victories; Paul Shulman the first commander of Israel’s Navy; Al Schwimmer who supplied its first warplanes and many others.
Without that brave partnership, the State of Israel would not have survived. That partnership with Jews from around the world culminated in a large-scale action carried out by people with a variety of worldviews and opinions. This partnership constituted a force multiplier and has characterized the State of Israel in all the years of its existence.
My generation — the Yom Kippur War generation — was also raised on that same spirit of achieving the impossible, both in the enormous victory we brought for the State of Israel in that terrible war and, in later years, continuing to contribute to the development of science, high tech, agriculture, medicine, culture and other extraordinary achievements.
Is it possible to describe the success of Israeli hi-tech, science, medicine, culture and more without the million immigrants who came to Israel in the early nineties of the last century?
The spirit of the generation of founders who created this great miracle is the spirit that should guide us in the face of the difficult crisis we face today. We owe it to them to do the impossible. Now and always.
Our mission is clear: To strengthen the connection with world Jewry, to strengthen Aliyah, to steer ourselves into creative ways that will continue the extraordinary Zionist enterprise we have established here, to share with world Jewry in the difficult crisis that afflicts us, to harness them to do the impossible in the spirit of the country’s founders, to bridge this huge rift and continue all the more powerfully to build up Zion.