Abraham, living in the 2nd millennium BCE, is the "Father of Judaism." That's at least 4,000 years ago. It was his decision to pick up and take his family out of Ur, which is in the area of present day Iraq, and go eastward into Canaan, which is now the present day area of Israel. Everyone in Ur believed in idol-worship. In fact, his father was an idol maker! When Abraham came to the realization of there being only one unseen G-d, it was an astounding revelation, somewhat like the invention of fire or the wheel. He realized he couldn't raise his children to believe this in such an idol-worshipping environment and so moved. He took his extended family, animals, servants and all and established a beachhead for what came to be called, Judaism.
After becoming slaves in Egypt for 400 years, the Jewish people were able to be freed by Moses and that led to entering Canaan once again and and this time creating their own state with eventual rulers of King Saul, King David and his son King Solomon as well as many that followed.
Jews have gone through the past 2,000 years of being treated like the pariahs of humanity which got the people to realize that they needed to establish once again their own state, which is called Israel. The past 63 years of Israel's existence has been filled with wars and now bombings of missles, mortars and rockets from its neighbors.
The question was raised as to why they don't all pack up and leave. Whoever wants to put up with living under a state of constant war and possible death with only moments of warning all their life? No one in American seems to want to do so. Yet around 100 Americans just recently made aliyah to Israel to do just that, and to join in the Israeli army as well. Why would they? It is because of the Jewish vision that is morally and spiritually compelling. "We believe in the eternal validity of the Sinai covenant" made with Moses so long ago. Our religion is something our ancestors signed up with and we are the inheritors of this eternal promise. It is to remain faithful to our belief of one G-d and the laws involved that keep us to this faith which becomes harder and harder to do in the modern world. It is the fairness that our religion has that even in this age makes such sense to abide by. The torah offers awesome realities or moral consequence. We believe that our religion is the light to the world and we are not about to let it go out, even though most feel they can do without it. We received this from G-d and we aim to keep it going.
The end of a 3 day blitz on southern Israel may have just been halted. We hope so. People had to live in bomb shelters during this time. They were hit by 100 missiles, mortars and rockets with exceedingly long distance abilities. We had at least 8 deaths and many injured. These Jews are living here to be able to practice and remember their religion and to give their children the chance to be able to do so. They don't want to be assimilated by other religions. They're not there to make war on anyone. Nobody has more reason to live peacefully than Jewish people. They are asking why the Palestinian Arabs are so intent on killing them. Why does one people want to kill another? Jews have not gone there to kill Arabs, only to live once again in the Middle East where they came from.
The added reason to keep our religion alive has been that so many have tried to squash it like it is something they simply don't want to hear or know. From the Crusades to the Inquisition to the Holocaust, the many have tried to stamp out the few that follow this first monotheistic religion that gave rise to Christianity and Islam. We have a "clearly defined sense of peoplehood bound together by a shared language of Hebrew, and our religion and history. " This is all what makes us a people. Combine that with the fact that Jewish women stemmed from 4 different women in the ages having gone through a dna bottleneck , and we find we are all related even closer than we find we are all related to each other in the world. We are such a small group, making up only less than 1% of the world population, that when one is hurt it is like somebody from our immediate family is hurt. We have a very strong connection to each other.
Saul Singer brought out that the thing that binds the Palestinians together is mainly their hatred and struggle against Israel. "Without Israel, there would be no so -called Palestinian people. (I might add that Palestine is not the name of a country, but what the Romans called the land after attacking Jeruslaem in 70 CE. Both Jews and Arabs living in "Palestine" were called Palestinians.) If the Jews had not returned to Palestine, this land would have been still a minor backwater in the Arab world. It may have even turned into a province of southern Syria. " They came to this area from all corners of the neighboring lands looking for work. They joined the few Arabs that had been living there. They do have their Islamic religion and language that they share with each other.
It's hard for anyone in the USA to understand the importance of keeping our religion alive and well. We're not a people who proselyze as we didn't appreciate those that tried to change our beliefs. So many people here are able to change their denomination in the Protestant realm, as it all has to do with the major principals of faith with slight differences. People marry in and out of different groups fairly easy without upsetting their families. Even when a Catholic and Protestant marry today, their belief system adjusts to the ways of belief as the major religious belief is the same. They have the same concept of G-d and what he wants. We also have the same levels of understanding in Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism but find Christianity a different concept with a lot of similarities. It all boils down to the fact that our forefathers made a promise to G-d and we are bound to keep it because we want to. We're a people who have been living with this concept for about 4,000 years already. Islam came into being with Mohammed having met with Jews in his home town and hearing our good book read orally. That was only in the 600's CE, or about 1,400 years ago. Christianity has been in existence for about 2,000 years now.
So Israelis are not looking for economic prosperity or an easy life. They are there because they have strong feelings about Judaism. Anyone who lives in Israel has had to go through many hardships. Many are immigrants into the land such as I was. You can read my book, Letters From Israel to find out what it was like to be an immigrant in Israel in 1980. Through all their sufferings, they are finding great joy in being a part of a prophesy of the Return to Israel. Our religion does give us great joy, though we have had to live through lots of pain to keep it.
Resource: Question presented to me
Confronting Jihad by Saul Singer p. 62