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Some people miss the point about Israeli independence day. Haaretz editors seem to think it is about "accrual of time" and suggest that "Perhaps now the time is ripe to let go of the euphoria over the country's very existence, the flip side of existential fear."


We are aware that for some Ha'aretz editors like Gideon Levy, the existence of Israel is not a cause for celebration. But celebration of the country's existence is necessary to motivate the rest of us, who do not share the views of the editors of Ha'aretz, to continue the struggle to rebuild the Jewish people, and to remind ourselves and our children why we are here, and why it is important to stay here and not, for example, to go live in the United States or Germany if we can earn a better living there. The great threat to Israel's existence, the real fear, is not an external threat, not Ahmedinajad's bomb or the Hamas, but an internal one. Israel was made possible only by a chance moment in history when most of the Jewish people united and understood that without a national existence, without a state, there would be no future for the Jewish people. Without Zionism, there cannot be an Israel. As long as the Jewish people have not completely made up their collective mind about who and what they are. Several Zionist leaders understood the importance of Jewish unity. Theodor Herzl told the delegates to the first Zionist congress:Zionism has already managed to accomplish a wondrous thing, previously thought to be impossible: the firm bond between the most modern elements of of Judaism with the most conservative. That "unity" was sadly illusory. Most Jews supported Zionism, but most Jewish leaders were opposed to it or indifferent. David Ben-Gurion said in 1944:The second indispensable imperative of the Jewish revolution is the unity of its protagonists. This sharing together in a fate, a creative process, and a struggle is what unites this vanguard--the pioneers, the builders of the homeland, the workers of the land of Israel, who are inspired by the vision of a Jewish renaissance on humanistic, Zionist, and socialist foundations. Sadly, even unity among the Zionists and their leaders was short lived and illusory. However, symbolic celebrations such as Independence Day serve to remind all of us, except perhaps the staff of Ha'aretz and people of similar views, of the unity of Zionist purpose. We have to make a big deal of Independence Day and of Zionist symbols, because if we do not make a big deal of Independence day, there will not be an Israel and there will be nothing to celebrate. The real purpose of the Zionist revolution was to make the Jews into a "nation like any other nation." This cannot be done by make believe. If the Jews pretend to be a nation like any other, when they are not, the results will be disastrous. There is no Greek or Italian or French Gideon Levy or Ilan Pappe or Neturei Karteh, people who are contemptuous of their own nation and gain a big following for inventing falsehoods and libels about it. As long as we have those people, we are not a normal people.

The second reason (does Ha'aretz really need to be reminded?) why we celebrate independence day is that Israel is not just another country that achieved independence from colonialism, but the realization of a 2,000 year old dream, and the renewal of a 3,000 year old sovereignty. Our historic tie to the land, recognized by all of Western civilization and by Islam as well, is an essential part of Zionism and an essential part of Independence Day. The Bible is our deed to the land in the eyes of many. It is not only a fact of ancient history, but remained a living part of Jewish culture. Tel Aviv is not the first Hebrew city, but only the first Hebrew city in modern times. Jerusalem was a Hebrew city when Tel Aviv was sand dunes.

The third reason we celebrate independence day is to remind ourselves that there is really a threat. Israel was born under a threat, and the first Independence Day was celebrated by military demonstrations everywhere: the Egyptian bombing of Tel Aviv, the attack on Kibbutz Nirim, the siege of Jerusalem and many others. It is not an accident that we observe memorial day on the day before Independence Day, to pay tribute to those who gave their lives so that Independence Day could be celebrated. It is foolish to pretend otherwise, but it is also masochistic in a way to deny ourselves the opportunity to celebrate the victories of the Israel War of Independence, the victories of later wars that helped to guarantee that independence, and the fact that we have survived another year despite the threats posed by Hamas, Hezbollah, Jacqueline Rose, Haim Beresheet, Neturei Karteh, Ilan Pappe and Gideon Levy.

Israel Independence day closely resembles several other holidays of liberation or salvation for the Jewish people: Passover, Hanukka and Purim. Hanukka is a holiday of liberation and national renewal. 1948 did not mark the first time the Jewish people rose from the dust of oppression. Then as now, there were skeptics. Religious people who opposed war and the newfangled ways needed to achieve it, as well as those who thought assimilation was the wave of the future. Purim celebrates a victory in which the Jews destroyed an enemy that wanted to destroy them. Passover celebrates the first Jewish liberation. It is most like Independence Day because it is used to teach the value of freedom. And on Passover too, there is an evil son who looks on and asks, "What is all this work to you?" We have many evil sons today.

Those who are skeptical of the above, or who think it is exaggerated should wait a few days. It will soon be May 15, time for observance of Nakba day as well as the anniversary of Israeli independence according to the Gregorian calendar. The events excoriating the existence of Israel are already planned. Gideon Levy, along the anti-Semitic Amir Abdel Malik Ali, will be featured at anti-Israel week in the University of California at Irvine. The articles predicting the collapse of Israel have already been written. They are part of the ritual enacted each year. All the articles point out Israeli disunity, the unsolved Palestinian threat and similar woes that were supposed to make Israel impossible, and then were supposed to be responsible for its imminent demise. Each year, it is the same ritual. So, if Ha'aretz can allow Gideon Levy to go bash Israel in an anti-Israel week, perhaps they can be good enough to allow us to celebrate our independence. If the editors of Ha'aretz and others consider themselves a part of Israel, they will join in the celebrations, rather than standing aside and asking, "What is all this work to you?" The evil son is unworthy of redemption, and if we have too many evil sons, there will be no redemption.

Ami Isseroff


Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000684.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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