A reader writes:

The claim that “Israel is a rare example of a nation-state that is only a few decades old in a long-inhabited and civilized part of the world” is completely false.  Israel is in part of the world that completely lacked the idea of a nation state for over thousand years.  The territory of the Middle East  was in possession of empires continuously since the Babylonian conquests in 600 BCE.  The successive empires include Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Muslim Arab, Christian Crusade, Ottoman and the British Empire.  Israel and Palestinian territories have not been an independent nation since the 6 sixth century BCE and the only people to continually inhabit the region were what until 1947, were called Palestinian Jews.  

Most other nations in the region are about the same age as Israel and most have no historical precedence.  Some of these include Saudi Arabia (1932) created after a brutal civil war won by the Saud family; Hashemite kingdom of Jordan ( 1920, 1946), Syria (1920, 1946) and Iraq (1920, 1932)  given by the British to various members of the exiled Hashemite family after they lost the civil war against the Saud family; Lebanon (1943) a Christian enclave carved out of Muslim Syria to provide Christians a safe haven from Muslim oppression.  Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria were hand drawn on a map by the British  and French from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.  Nations were presented to their Arab elites and  allies, all of whom were minorities in their own new nations. 

Paradoxically, Israel is the only nation among these that had 1) existed as a sovereign state, 2)  fought for true independence;  3) upon independence represented the democratic aspirations of its local indigenous population, Palestinian Jews, who made up a majority of the people within the 1947 UN partition and 1949 Armistice lines and 4) extended full democratic citizenship to minorities.