Israel, the land, not the state, is a very special place. Over the generations, millions of people from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have praised it, longed for it, and hallowed it. Yet, over the centuries, the land had been scarcely inhabited. Even today, with millions of people living in Israel, not many do so by choice. Many would gladly move to Europe or the United States, if only they were welcome there. There is a good reason for this: You can only feel at home in Israel if you are Israel on the inside—if you strive to live by the principles of the people of Israel: solidarity, mutual responsibility, and love of others.
When the ancient Jews lived here, they were strong when they were united and weak when they were divided. Our sages do not blame our ruins on foreign legions, but only on internal division. They attribute the ruin of the First Temple and the expulsion to Babylon to bloodshed and slander, and the ruin of the Second Temple and the exile that lasted until about a century ago to hatred without cause.
The people of Israel became a nation when they pledged to unite “as one man with one heart.” Immediately thereafter, they were given the task of being a model nation, “a light unto nations,” setting an example of unity to all nations. Subsequently, they were given a land in which to fulfill their obligation to the world.
The unity of the people of Israel was like no other. The first Israelis, known as Hebrews, were complete strangers, at first. The only thing that held them together was their adherence to the three above-mentioned principles that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had taught them. It was an ideological unity, not a biological or a geographical unity, as was the case with other nations. By forming such a unique, uncanny union, they showed what the future of the world could look like if all the nations united. Because they were the trailblazers, they were given the task of being “a light unto nations,” of setting an example for the rest of the world.
The unity of the ancient Israelites had many ups and downs. When unity reigned, they were on top of the world, so to speak. When division overcame them, they became a horde of bitter enemies fighting each other to the death. But in doing so, they showed the world that peace among the nations was impossible.
Today, too, only those who can live by the laws of unity will feel comfortable living in Israel, and they will be the contemporary people of Israel. If there are not enough people, the country will disintegrate.
As long as there is a State of Israel, the world will look for an example of unity specifically from the people who live in it. If they provide it, they will be venerated and hallowed. If they show division, they will be hated and despised.
If there is no State of Israel, the world will not be a better place. Without the example of unity that Israel must set, the world will be mired in fighting and war.
Only if the people who live here know what it means to be Israel, are willing to take on the task, and strive to fulfill it among themselves, humanity will have a beacon, a compass to follow to the shores of unity, and the world will be spared the looming wars. In the coming years, it will become evident that only people with such a mission in life can call Israel “home.”