Baehr is right. Nothing has changed. The seige rages on.
Israel's Siege Continues Richard Baehr American Thinkerhat tip Van
Israel's national anthem, Hatikvah, ("The Hope"), was written in 1886 by Naphtali Herz Imber, an English poet, originally from Bohemia. In 1897, at the first Zionist Congress, Hatikvah was adopted as the anthem of Zionism. And at that time, The Hope of the delegates to the Zionist Congress was for a return to Zion, and the rebirth of the Jewish state.
Twenty two years on from the publication of The Siege, and 60 years on from the founding of the modern state of Israel, it is worth asking if anything has really changed. Is Israel's hope for a future in its own homeland as much at risk today as when the anthem was adopted by the new state in 1948? Can Israel hope for a better future, for peace and normalcy, to be a state like any other? Or is that hope naïve? More specifically, is Israel's and the Jewish people's hope for Israel to remain a free nation in its own land, at odds with the reality of the continuing Siege (today -- of 300 million Arabs in 20 nations aligned against just 5 million Israeli Jews) as well as the new existential dangers to the state?
I believe that the survival of Israel should matter a lot to American Jews. Just prior to the start of World War 2, the world's Jewish population stood at over 17 million, close to 1% of the world's total population. Of that number, over half, more than 9 million, lived in Europe, about a third in America, and but 3%, roughly half a million, in Palestine. Today, after 6 million Jews perished in less than six years in the Holocaust, we have never come close to restoring our numbers. The best current estimate of the world's Jewish population is a bit over 13 million, with roughly 80% of the total split between Israel and the US, about 40%, or five million plus, in each country.
While Jewish numbers worldwide are down by almost 25% in 65 years, the world's population has more than tripled. We are now but 1 of every 500 people on the earth, a group smaller than the Dutch. In Europe, barely a million Jews still reside, fewer than 10% of the world's total Jewish population, and barely a tenth of their former level in Europe. As Diaspora Jewry suffers the twin blows of a high intermarriage rate and a low birthrate, the Jewish numbers in virtually every country outside of Israel continue to decline. The only exceptions recently have been Canada, where Jews have a much lower intermarriage rate and a higher birth rate than in the US, and Germany, which accepted some older Jews from Russia as refugees. In this country, despite immigration of over half a million Jews from Russia, Israel, and other countries in the last 30 years, the Jewish population has declined by over 10% from a peak of 6 million in 1950 to 5.3 million, according to one population survey, or is now just over 6 million, according to another survey.