A bittersweet birthday

Imagine celebrating your 60th birthday -- while knowing that you're surrounded by people who think you should never have been born.


They want you to die. And they say it publicly, while shooting rockets at your house.

That's the bittersweet birthday experience of Israel, which turns 60 on Wednesday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has promised to wipe Israel off the map, saying it is a "stain of disgrace," that Israel is "the basic problem in the Islamic world," and that Israel is "fraudulent and illegitimate and cannot survive."

In truth, despite being attacked for much of its existence, Israel has been a model of stability and democracy in a part of the world that has seen precious little of both.

And despite the ominous clouds -- it seems every summer Iran's surrogate terrorists in Hezbollah wage informal war, and this year stacks up to be no different as they lay siege to Lebanon -- the mood in Israel is said to be upbeat.

Enemies of Israel teach their impressionable children that Jews are descendants of apes and pigs, while also blaming the Palestinian exodus in 1948 wholly on Israel -- when the Arab-declared war on the infant country surely had much to do with driving civilians out.

As a democratic republic, Israel would be the first to relish peace, and even a Palestinian state on its border -- if the peace were real, and not just a temporary cessation of hostilities. But you have to wonder: How is peace achievable with people who are being told they're dealing with apes and pigs and whose country is illegitimate?

Palestinians, Iranians and others need to stop demonizing and attacking Israel. The hatred, the suicide bombings, the brainwashing and the rockets sent Israel's way are keeping the Palestinian people captive.

The world, led by the peaceful nations of Europe, needs to unite against Iran and use economic and political sanctions to stop Ahmadinejad and his war-mongering and his nuclear ambitions. It may be the only way to prevent all-out war -- and maybe the unthinkable use of nuclear weapons in the Mideast.

Israel is real, and it's here to stay, and the sooner the rest of the Arab world joins Egypt and Jordan in recognizing that, the sooner everyone will have a better chance of surviving to 60.