Having been to Israel often since my first trip in 1972 as a rookie member of Congress, I'm always amazed at the incredible progress, juxtaposed against the virulence of its enemies, many of whom would annihilate not only the state of Israel but Jews writ large.
It's equally hard to believe how much opposition there was 60 years ago this month to a Jewish homeland as the remnant of European Jewry, 6 million of whom were burned and gassed by the Nazis and incarcerated by the brutal despot Joseph Stalin.
One of my foreign policy heroes, Gen. George Marshall, tried to dissuade President Truman from recognizing the new state of Israel in 1948. He and his Arabist allies in the State Department thought it would erode our credibility throughout the whole world. On the contrary, Truman's support gave moral standing to our nation in keeping with our founding democratic ideals and shared values. Today, Israel is unambiguously our most loyal and steadfast strategic ally in that part of the world, notwithstanding our increasing trade, diplomatic, and strategic friends and allies in the Arabian Gulf.
I appreciate the perspective of former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Zalman Shoval, who recently wrote, "Israel's triumph should not be seen primarily in terms of victories over its enemies. Instead, it should be considered in light of its achievements. Without natural resources, without any substantial foreign aid during the first 20 years of its existence and in spite of its ongoing security concerns it has created a thriving economy. Israel is a leader in high technology, medicine and related fields, and is a major cultural center."
What about a Palestinian state, people ask. As I wrote several years ago, I believe the United States and Europe can help restore hope and pave the way for a new Palestinian leadership by making it unambiguously clear that we stand ready to provide a 21st century Marshall Plan of trade and aid for the Middle East the instant a peace agreement is signed and both sides are living in democratically elected homelands.