As Israel enters its 67th year of existence as a modern state, Jews throughout the world will join together in celebration of Jewish freedom and nationhood.
Although many erroneously link Jewish nationalism with Theodor Herzl, and consider Israel to be the end result of western guilt for the Holocaust, few are actually aware of the uninterrupted presence of Jewish life in Israel after Rome's decimation of Judea in the years 132 to 136.
Throughout the ages, pilgrims, Crusaders and travellers attested to this in numerous accounts of their voyages.
In fact, even accounts of Saladin's life recount his having permitted Jews banned by the Crusaders to resettle in Jerusalem.
From generation to generation, Jews have always maintained a spiritual link with Israel, a land that gave birth to our prophets and the liturgical Hebrew language that still unites us in faith.
Our pledge to never forget where we came from is integral to our everyday lives and has continued to guide us through our daily prayers, which require us to direct our minds and bodies toward Jerusalem.
For centuries, Jews from the Cabalists expelled from medieval Spain to the pioneers driven out by pogroms in Eastern Europe made true on our people's ritual pledge of "next year in Jerusalem" by settling en masse in the land of our forefathers.
Although the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which favoured the establishment of "a national home for the Jewish people," did serve as a modern catalyst for Jewish renewal in the Land of Israel, Jews were already a majority in most parts of modern-day Israel, including Jerusalem, where they had been so since the 1870s.
When a majority of states voted in favour of the United Nations' partition plan, dividing British Palestine into two states — one Arab, the other Jewish — the Jewish leadership accepted the compromise even though it entailed the painful loss of much of Judea and Samaria, once our people's cradle.
The Arabs' refusal to comply with the plan and unwillingness to accept our right to self-determination led to a war of annihilation against Israel in 1948 and forced us into a constant struggle to assert our existence.
Unfortunately, little has changed since then.
Just last week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas walked away from months of constructive peace talks in order to pursue the folly of forming a unity government with Hamas, whose covenant calls for the destruction of Israel.
Although our detractors would have many believe that settlements are the main stumbling block in our long-standing conflict with the Palestinians, their refusal to recognize our right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state is what has fuelled hatred from the very beginning.
Those who continue to harp on this fail to see that the very existence of any Jewish state anywhere is a non-starter for our foes.
Sadly, this impasse will continue as long as the Arab masses are fed anti-Semitic propaganda and historical revisionism that denies any Jewish link to Israel.
When our neighbours come to terms with history and accept our right to live alongside them as equals, we will be the first nation to extend our hand in peace and friendship.
Until then, Israelis and Jews throughout the world will join in celebration of our people's revival in Israel and the wonderful things that we have accomplished together in spite of all odds.
Joël Lion is consul general of Israel to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.