My first name, Benjamin, dates back a thousand years earlier to Benjamin – Binyamin – the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel. Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Sumeria 4,000 years ago, and there’s been a continuous Jewish presence in the land ever since.
Israeli captain and politician, 9th and Current Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu was born on this day in 1949.
The history of Israel and of the Jewish people is fascinating, and more complicated than I can get to in one simple blog post. But perhaps more than any other people in human history they have faced persecution and exile.
And yet, they’re here.
Israel struggles to survive on a small strip of land on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.
I visited there in December of 1983 and again in March of 1984. The reasons the trips were so close together belong in a different blog post. Or perhaps in a different book.
But since that time I have been in love with the country and the people of Israel. They are a beautiful, strong, resilient people.
How I would love to go back.
Israel continues to struggle, most recently with a United Nations.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Commission drafted a resolution that ignores Judaism’s ties to their holiest site. While it recognizes the importance of Jerusalem to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam it makes no mention of why the city is significant to Christians or Jews. It refers to Temple Mount, the site of the Hebrew Temples only by its Muslim name.
Netanyahu responded “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids. By this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost what little legitimacy it has left.”
The resolution was passed by UNESCO on Tuesday but not without controversy.
Israel will, of course, continue to fight.
In the musical Fiddler on the Roof when the Jews are being forced out of Anatevka, one of the townsmen says to Tevye,
Our forefathers have been forced out of many, many places at a moment’s notice.
Tevye responds: Maybe that’s why we always wear our hats.
Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t seem to be worried about where he left his hat.
Hallelujah for all that has been
And all that is yet to come