Israel, We Love You: Trafalgar Square Rally

Published 29 June 2008
Rabbi Sacks at the 'Closer to Israel' rally in Trafalgar Square

On Sunday 29th June 2008, Rabbi Sacks spoke powerful words at the Trafalgar Square rally in celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary.


For 2000 years, the Jewish people had no home.

For 2000 years, it was shattered into a hundred fragments and scattered around the world.

For 2000 years it suffered exiles and expulsions, persecutions and pogroms.

Then Hitler came to power.

The world knew something terrible was about to happen to Jews.

In 1938 the nations of the world gathered in Evian.

Nation after nation closed its doors.

Jews knew that there was nowhere on earth they could go.

Therefore we say:

Baruch . . . shehecheyanu

Thank You God for bringing us to this time.

Today, because of Israel, the Jewish people has a home.

In 1945, the world began to understand what had happened at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka.

They began to realise that what had taken place was the most systematic, sustained crime of man against man since man first walked on earth.

The Jewish people might have been paralysed by grief.

Or worse than grief.

By anger, and hate, and the desire for revenge.

But it didn’t.

It did something astonishing.

It looked forward not back.

It said: we have lost our parents and grandparents.

Let us make somewhere safe for our children.

Let there be one place on earth where Jews can defend themselves.

In the face of death, the Jewish people chose life.

Today, because of Israel, the Jewish people has life.

In 1948, the day Israel was born, it was attacked on all fronts by the armies of five nations, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq.

Three years after the Holocaust murdered one third of the Jewish people

Israel’s neighbours tried to murder the Jewish state.

Since then, from that day to this, Israel has lived with war or the threat of war, terror or the threat of terror.

Yet Israel has sought peace.

In 1948, under Ben Gurion.

In 1967 after the Six Day War.

In 1991 at Madrid.

In 1993 on the White House Lawn.

In 1998, at Wye Valley.

In 2000 at Camp David. 

In 2001 at Taba.

Yet Israel today is called the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.

Heaven forbid.

Today, because of Israel, there is at least a possibility of peace.

Yet every time Israel proposes peace, it is greeted with terror and suicide bombings, Katyushas and Kassams.

Israel will continue to seek peace.

And we will continue to support it in doing so.

And we pay tribute to the British government for its support for Israel and for peace.

We say to the Palestinians: you have a right to a home.

All you have to do is recognize that the Jewish people also has a right to a home.

Let us live, side by side, in peace.

What miracles Israel has achieved.

Israel has made gathered the Jewish people from every land under the sun and made them one nation again.

Israel has taken the language of the Bible and made it a living tongue again.

Israel has rebuilt the yeshivot destroyed in the Shoah and made the world of Torah flourish again.

Israel has created a democracy in a part of the world that never knew it.

It has created one of the great economies of the 21st century.

It has given the world scientists and doctors, poets and novelists, musicians and artists, scholars and thinkers.

Israel has more high-tech companies, symphony orchestras, universities, and research institutes than countries ten times its size.

Instead of nursing revenge for past, Israel has sought to build a better future.

Though it has walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, Israel has sought life.

This is our people.

And this – our people’s home.

This is where, 4000 years ago, our people was born.

This is where, 60 years ago, our people was reborn.

Israel is the land of our past,

The landscape of our future,

The dream of our parents,

The love of our children.

Yisrael hi tikvatenu – Israel is our hope.

Yisrael hi admatenu – Israel is our land.

Israel: we love you.