Sunday, June 30, 2013

Israel: That Speck on the Map That Is So Beyond the Norm

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

Why should so much attention be given to 8,000 square miles of land called Israel?  Florida is 8 times larger.   Many are lamenting the fact that it could be the downfall of the world today with the battle between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  It only has about 8 million population, 6 million being Jews.  Such a tiny place to cause a whole lot of whoopity doo seems unfathomable.

Moses, an adopted Israelite in Egypt, was called to lead the 600,000 slaves out of Egypt and felt the supernatural power over natural forces when he was trying to get the Pharaoh to agree to letting the slaves go after holding them for 400 years. That was 16 generations of enslavement of a people.   He himself possessed a supernatural power or influence that seemingly came from a supernatural source which he conceded was our one and only G-d.  So there were special things happening in this land.
This is the land that has birthed Judaism, for it was Moses who introduced it to the Israelite slaves and the others who accompanied them out of Egypt on their 40 year trek.   From here was also birthed Christianity who the Christians believe was because that Jesus was born to a Jewish teenager, Mary and her older Jewish husband, Joseph.  For the Christians, Jesus was the son of G-d who was the birth father and it is to him that they pray.
This is the land that the Arab nations coveted.  Israel is located on the crossroads between Asia and Africa, and  between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.  It's location has made the Land of Israel an object of imperial ambitions throughout history.  Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans and British have all crossed the Land on their way to further conquest.  It is indeed the crossroads of the world.
                                               Israel, Judea and Samaria, Jordan
Today, the world is just a few hours away from Israel.  Mountains and plains, city and villages, fertile fields and desert of Israel are often minutes apart from each other.  Israel can be crossed by car from went to east in 90 minutes!  On the Mediterranean Coast to the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are but one hour apart.  Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean Sea to Eilat on the Red Sea are only 5 hours apart.  These short distances mean that Israelis are familiar with their country and are involved in what happens in different parts of it.

Israel is 263 miles long and from 9 to 71 miles wide.  In contrast, 5.3 million square miles belong to the oil-rich Arab nations.  Yet they have no room or jobs at their inns for the Palestinians.

From Jerusalem to Haifa are 94 miles.
            "                Tel Aviv are 38 miles
           "                Jericho  are   21 miles
          "                Bethlehem are 5 miles
          "                Beersheba are 54 miles
From Tel Aviv to  Haifa       are 59 miles
                            Beersheba are 67 miles
                           Gaza are         48 miles
from Beersheba to Eilat are       146 miles.
Israel lives on the edge of the desert.  A large part of Israel is made up of the Negev, mostly desert.  Jerusalem is on the threshold of the Judaean Desert.    Its northern part is a prairie and the southern part is mountainous.  The Sinai Desert has throughout history been the region separating the Land of Israel from the Land of Egypt.  Israel had turned into swamps if not desert land and had mosquitoes and malaria to stave off when the 1st and 2nd Aliyot (Jews from Russia, eastern Europe) came to settle in the 1880's and on.

In biblical times, much of the Land of Israel was covered with forests.  In the centuries since 70 CE and especially during the Middle Ages, many forests were destroyed by nomads and their goats and some by the Turks as fuel for their military trains.   Israel has planted trees during the past 50 years.  Of the ancient forests, very few survive, mainly in the Galilee.  In 1948 there were 4,388,000 trees in Israel.  In 1970-71, there were 103,000,000 trees, almost all planted by the Jewish National Fund.

The boundaries of the Promised Land was given to us by Moses as written in the Torah.  I note that the land from Transjordan from the river Arnon to Mt. Hermon, and to the Valley of Iyon was to be part of Israel along with the rest of the description. Its total surface in the Torah was 17,500 square miles of which about 45% was in Transjordan.  It included most of Syria and altogether covered about 58,000 square miles.  This entire area was occupied by the Israelites under Kings David and Solomon.

The Jewish National Home under the British Mandate embraced  the area west of the Jordan River (Judea and Samaria) excluding part of the Upper Galilee north of the ladder of Tyre which was given to Lebanon.  The southern Negev beyond the Rafiah-gulf of Eleath line had been handed over by the Turkish government to Egypt for administration in 1906.  The UN resolution of November 29, 1947 recommended the establishment of a Jewish state in the larger part of the mandated area of western Palestine, although still with a complex frontier.  The armistice agreements of 1949 left Israel with 8,000 square miles, a larger area than envisioned, although still with complicated borders.  Judea and Samaria were left in Jordan's hands who had taken it illegally during the fighting in 1948 outside of the armistice agreements.

After the 1967 Six Day War, Israel was in occupation of all of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and the Sinai up to the Suez Canal.  Sinai was returned to Egypt in the early 1980's.

 Modern Israel has never known permanent boundaries.  Until 1967, its boundaries were made of temporary armistice lines, agreed upon in 1949.  Since 1967, and pending a peace settlement, cease-fire lines demarcate the area under Israeli control.  The cease-fire lines are 523 miles long, compared with the armistice lines which were 570 miles long.  Most of the urban regions of Israel are less than 2 hours away from the  nearest cease-fire lines.  Before 1967, the armistice lines bisected Jerusalem and were 20 minutes away from Tel Aviv.

Because Israel lives on the edge of the desert, its civilization has been pre-occupied throughout history with the supply of water.  In 1972, Israel and the USA signed an agreement for the establishment of 2 water desalination plants in Israel--the one in Eilat and a much larger one in Ashdod.  The technique to be used in these plants were developed by an Israel Government engineering corporation.  an experimental station was  established in San Diego, California as part of the agreement.

As Moses was blessed by G-d to be given so much knowledge to the Israelites, so the Jewish people have been blessed with creative minds and have continued to give to the world much that they daily create.  Israel  is the 2nd highest start-up nation in the world, creating more jobs in an economic stalemate.  Medical creations of benefit to the world come from here.  You are not to lament for Israel's creation.  Be generous in your praise for her and wish peace be upon her.  You are surely to benefit.

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Facts About Israel  by the division of Information, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem

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