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Tisha B'Av - remembering that Israeli sovereignty shouldn't be taken for granted.

   07.08.2022 | Yishai Gelb
Image by Cole Keister

One thousand nine hundred fifty-two years ago, the world empire breached the walls of Jerusalem and exiled the Jewish people from the Land of Israel. The Jews that remained after the Roman-Jewish war remained in a land that was no longer theirs to rule or left to Babylon, Egypt, or the European continent. One thousand eight hundred seventy-eight years later, the Jewish nation-state was re-established, and the Jews now live in one of the most powerful countries in the world.


The 9th of Av marks the day of the destruction of Solomon's Temple by the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Second Temple by the Roman Empire in Jerusalem. For many Jews, it is hard to connect to a distant tragedy; however, its lessons need to ring loud in every Jewish and Israeli ear. 


At the height of the Israeli empire, the Jews enjoyed sovereignty. With strong leadership, technologically advanced water systems, and an army worthy of defending the national interests, alliances were signed, and land was concord. The Jews lived in a land that was theirs. But they lost it, twice, and there is no assurance that it won't happen again.


History rhymes with the neverending tune of nations, empires, and world orders rising and falling. Cycles of war and prosperity fill pages in history books and national narratives. The US-led world order that we live in is 77 years old, and the Jewish people are thriving in this historical period. The establishment of the state of Israel gave the Jews a home to return to. With a thriving economy, a mighty military power, and intellectual capital, the Jewish nation is experiencing the security and prosperity it hasn't experienced in thousands of years. 


Yet the world in which the State of Israel was founded isn't destined to survive forever. The average lifespan of global power is 200-300 years. The US is nearing its 250th birthday and is ruling a quickly fragmenting world order.  The capitalistic, free trade democratically led value system is showing cracks and holes with the rise of new global power. The international system is shifting from a unipolar system with the US leading the world to a multipolar system where there is no clear leader. China is a growing force in the world yet isn't entirely on par with the US. 


The most stable system is usually a Bipolar system in which two powers struggle for world domination, thus keeping the world in a balance of power where no one order dominates the other. The most unstable system is a multipolar system in which no clear leader or superpower exists. But, unfortunately, that is where we are headed, and we’ve been there in 1914 and 1939. 


World wars don't necessarily start with the blow of a whistle, but rather with a sequence of events that lead nation after nation to enter a conflict with its neighbor or distant foe until we look around and realize that there is war all over the world. 


Israel is situated in a problematic situation on the world stage. Israel has clear enemies and allies, which will force it to play a crucial role in the future conflict that is destined to come. In worldwide conflicts, there is no guarantee that the nations fighting will survive to carve out the spoils of the war or lick battle wounds. Some nations will perish, and some will prevail, and Jews in Israel and around the world must hear the message that the 9th of Av teaches us: Do NOT take your sovereignty for granted.  The fight for survival and prosperity only ends when the nation ceases to fight as a united nation. The US is experiencing a harsh clash internally, ultimately costing it all that is dear. Jews learn the lessons of history every day, every Shabbat, and every holiday. Let the 9th of Av teach us the crucial lessons needed to weather the storm on its way.

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