A quick trip leading a group of 25 Italian professionals, many of them non-Jews, who wanted to learn about Israel’s situation firsthand, left our Italian op-ed writer impressed – and a bit envious.
Israel has never become a Republic or adopted a formal written Constitution, as if these reflect the tragic fate of the most tormented democracy in the world, which survived against any logic and proving that faith and ideas move the mountains. Israel is the only state in the world living with a fanatical enemy who is not afraid of dying in order to destroy the Jews (Iran is now financing Hamas and Hezbollah to prepare the next round of war).
Israel is the one state in the world not only poor of friends but also rich with enemies who would like to put it into the dustbin of history. And there are those repeating that Israel should allow the Arab armies pressing from all sides to come in and beat them through nonviolence and withdrawals. Today, this unconscious feeling of wishing to see Israel disappearing animates a great segment of international public opinion.
I walked around the streets of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the communities of Judea and Samaria for a few days this past week. And I left with the clear feeling that the one in trouble is not Israel, but Europe. And that Europe’s crowded streets are less safe than the Israeli streets targeted by terrorism.
The Jewish State is one of the most successful countries in the world. Everywhere in Israel you can see a great military, religious, demographic and cultural strength.
Military: Israel will have no existential threat today if it is able to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Religious: everywhere in Israel you see young and old people praying and studying, while the yeshivas, the holy sites and the synagogues are always packed with people.
Demographic: not only the Israeli religious families, but also the secular Israeli ones are blessed by many children.
Cultural: Israel has one of the world’s highest per capita number of published books, scientific publications and university degrees.
And now compare these figures to Europe’s ones.
The “old continent” is refusing to protect itself and it is a free rider on the back of US security.
Religiously, Europe is a continent marked by apathy or, worse, by a militant anti-religious feeling.
Demographically, Europe is a sterile and aging continent.
Culturally, Europe produces every year very pessimistic books about its own decline and irrelevance.
In Israel you can sniff optimism at every corner. And the Jewish State is happier than most of Europe’s countries.
All the Middle East is imploding, while Israel is experiencing a real Renaissance. As I have said before, Israel is the new Venice, when in XVI century the alliance between France and the Sultan ended with the Ottoman march on Vienna. With a difference: Israel is not willing to meet the end of Marcantonio Bragadin, the famous Venetian commander skinned alive by the Turks, his ears and nose cut after resisting for 11 months (his body is now preserved in a Venice church).
Europe, instead of embracing the small Jewish State, seems to have chosen to collapse along with its enemies. When you see Israel from the air, especially at night, you see this small sparkling enclave surrounded by darkness and barbarians. Israel is probably the last Western state.
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter and of “J’Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel” published by Mantua Books.. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary.