Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Significant events

Sometimes I reflect upon the fact that I have been on this earth a long time. Of course, I never expected to reach the ripe old age of 75 years, but surprisingly I have done so. To celebrate this accomplishment I have been thinking about the most significant events that have happened during my lifetime, not only to me personally, but to the world.

Of course I was very small when WWII took place, but the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazism warrant as one of the major events in my lifetime, even though I was not aware of it at the time. The results of WWII and the Holocaust have affected my life deeply, probably more than any other event in my lifetime.

Second to that was the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. I was 10 years old at the time, but I can't say that I consciously remember anything about that event. However, its consquences have affected my life in a positive way. I first came here in 1963 and then lived here with my wife and child in 1964-6 and came back to live permanently in 1996.

My personal favorite event was the Six Day war of 1967, when Israel was surrounded by Arab armies intending to "wipe it off the map," yet miraculously Israel defeated them in 6 days. It was a high that lasted a long time. It presaged the subsequent development of the State and its economic and social vitality.

The next most significant event was the fall of Communism. During the Cold War, the idea that Communism and the Soviet Union would collapse under its own weight was fanciful. The first indication I had, that ironically it would be the economic failure of Communism due to its need to control a huge Empire, came in an article in Science magazine that predicted the collapse, although I have not been able to find that article, yet I remember thinking at the time, "wow, wouldn't that be great." Concomitant with the decline and collapse of the Soviet Union was the mass movement of Soviet Jewry, of over 1 million people, to Israel. I like to think that I had a small hand in this as a Soviet Jewry activist in Washington DC.

Perhaps not yet clearly in focus are the results of the so-called "Arab Spring" uprisings in much of the Arab world in the past few years. I like to think of them much as the paroxysms of the various revolts in Europe, such as the French revolution, that led to a free secular Republican France. But, so far the Arab countries have been debilitated and their militaries weakened by these internecine wars, particularly in Syria, which is good news for Israel. The final event that I would like to see in my lifetime is the denuclearization, by diplomatic or military means, of Iran. Once this threat to Israel is achieved then no foreseeable power will be able to threaten our existence.


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