Israelis Celebrate 65 Years of Independence

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Just a day after Israelis remembered their fallen soldiers and terror victims, Israel celebrated its 65th Independence Day. In the few decades since its rebirth, the Jewish state has accomplished more than most people could have ever imagined.
 
For decades before statehood, Israelis and Jews around the world faced persecution and military threats.

Holocaust survivor Martin Baronai lived here during the 1948 War of Independence.

"What they achieved -- the whole world per capita -- there's not a country in the world could have achieved, from every point of view: from medical research to every aspect in life. It's just an amazing story," Baronai told CBN News.

Israel's population has multiplied 10 times over since its independence.

"I think it's a miracle. We hope that it continues. It's very strong. It's a very encouraging place in which to be, and you can appreciate your historical roots of being Jewish," said Buzz, who hails from Chicago.

Against incredible odds, Israel emerged as the leading military force in the Middle East, which in turn led to pioneering developments in technology that have helped Israel on the battlefield as well as the home front.

As part of its Memorial Day ceremony, Israelis paused to honor the more than 23,000 soldiers and thousands of terror victims who died for their country.

Peace is still sought with its closest neighbors, the Palestinians, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains his people must stay strong.

"We do not look forward to going into battle; we are not blood thirsty; our hand is extended in peace to all people and all states, near and far," Netanyahu said. "But over the generations we have learned that only a fierce protection force can promise that we will not be harmed."

Whether the enemy is an Egyptian pharaoh or a nuclear Iran, the people of Israel appear ready to stand together.  

"We're used to it," Israeli Tzvika Shimonovich said. "Since the beginning of Israel, we had a lot of threats and I think since the beginning of Israel we knew how to deal with that."

"They shall overcome," said Martin Mirelli, who immigrated to Israel from Canada. "We outlived Pharaoh. We outlived all the titans of Russia. We outlived Hitler. We'll outlive whoever is going to stand in our way."

"We've had adversaries before," a new immigrant named Mitch said. "We do have adversaries, but it just makes us think and how we can achieve more with these people breathing down our back sometimes. So I think the future is very bright."

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Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

Chris Mitchell and Julie Stahl

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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