Less than a month after Russian tanks rolled across the Ukrainian border to unleash the worst land battle and the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, an Israeli delegation touched down in the war-torn country to open a 66-bed hospital staffed by more than 60 personnel. The Jewish state’s facility was the first foreign field hospital to operate in Ukraine.
While a commendable feat, Israel’s efforts to assist in Ukraine hardly come as a surprise. In fact, this is what those in the know have come to expect of the Israelis.
The Jewish nation is tiny. Its members amount to less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, yet its contributions to humanity are astounding; its footprints of blessing, innovation and aid etched into the areas of mankind’s greatest need.
Regardless of where catastrophe hits, the Jewish state is often the first on the front lines, flying thousands of miles to bring doctors and nurses, rescue workers, medical supplies, equipment and more to devastated areas. The tiny country’s huge heart of compassion and care is often most clearly visible in a nation far from home, helping a people who are not their own survive the rubble of their shattered lives.
So what’s behind Israel’s exemplary efforts to bless the nations? Perhaps the origin lies in an ancient promise given by God to the father of the people who would later be called Israel: “Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (Gen. 18:18). Perhaps it is part of the fulfillment of a prophecy God spoke into existence through the mouth of the biblical prophet Isaiah: “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles” (42:6).
“I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing nations…I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty Sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all civilization.”
—John Adams, second president of the US, in 1809
“The moral teaching of the Jews and the practical example of their lives is incomparably higher than the moral teaching and the practical example set by (others)…Judaism, by adhering to the moral principles which it professes, occupies a higher position than…everything that comprises the goals of our society’s aspirations.”
—Leo Tolstoy, Russian author in “What is a Jew?” published in 1891
“If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race…Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of…and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also very out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.”
—Mark Twain, American author of “Concerning the Jews,” published in 1899
“It is impossible for one who has studied at all the services of the Hebrew people to avoid the faith that they will one day be restored to their historic national home and there enter on a new and yet greater phase of their contribution to the advance of humanity.”
—Warren G. Harding, 29th president of the US, in 1921
“When a light bulb is screwed into its socket, light fills the entire room. When Israel takes its proper place and functions as it should, the entire world benefits…”
—Aaron Eby in “Israel: Light for the Nations”
“By these will the State be judged, by the moral character it imparts to its citizens, by the human values determining its inner and outward relations, and by its fidelity, in thought and act, to the supreme behest: ‘and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Here is crystallized the eternal law of Judaism, and all the written ethics in the world can say no more.”
—David Ben-Gurion, first prime minister of Israel
“Within a decade of Israel’s founding, the government and its people demonstrated a deep commitment to engage in humanitarian relief efforts and international development programs. In 1958, Israel adopted an official humanitarian aid agenda as a principal element of the country’s international cooperation efforts. Over the years, the country has extended international humanitarian aid assistance to more than 140 countries, even to those who do not maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.”
—Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“God chose Israel not because they were superior but because of what He could do through them for others.”
—Max Anders, creator and general editor of the Holman Bible Commentary
“The long-standing biblical imperative to act as a ‘light unto the nations’ has guided the Jewish people for millennia. Regardless of their situation, Jews have held tightly to this dictum, and the state of Israel has exemplified this spirit—humbly using its resources and skills to help others, even those dedicated to Israel’s destruction—in their times of greatest need.”
—James Sinkinson, president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME) in “How Israel Strives to Be a ‘Light unto the Nations’”
“‘I have made you a light unto the nations, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth.’ Today, 2,700 years after Isaiah spoke those prophetic words, Israel is becoming a rising power among the nations. And at long last, its light is shining across the continents, bringing hope and salvation to the ends of the earth.”
—Benjamin Netanyahu, former prime minister of Israel
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