Israel at 61: Still questioning

Get our your plastic hammers, wave a piece of cardboard over warming charcoal, put on your hiking boots and affix an Israeli flag to your car window: Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s 61st birthday.

  • Even on Independence Day, the editorialists at Ha’aretz don’t take a break from their criticism to herald the accomplishments of the Jewish state. Instead, it’s another opportunity to bemoan stagnation:

Stagnation has taken the place of change when it comes to matters within our control… The new government is not only not heralding change and hope; it is calling for steps backward – in its approach to both Israel’s Arabs and to our neighbors and the world.

Those who have embraced "conflict management" and have despaired of a solution, and those for whom governing is an end in itself rather than a means for change and improvement, will find themselves marking time and treading water with us all, driven by crises instead of growing and renewing.

On Independence Day, we belabor the obvious: The State of Israel was established to fulfill dreams, not to arm itself ahead of the coming of the Messiah.

  • Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Gershon Baskin of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information expresses hope for another kind of Independence Day:

On Independence Day 2001, at the height of the second intifada, I received a telephone call from a Palestinian friend from Bethlehem who called to wish me a Happy Independence Day. This was a first for me. I was literally dumbfounded. I am not one who is often at a loss for words – but I was taken off guard and didn’t know what to say. One year later, being prepared for his phone call, I was able to respond with "I hope that you too will soon be able to celebrate your independence!".

  • Keren Applebaum asks in Ynet, "Why is it that the State of Israel, which promises a secure home for every Jew, has turned into a society haunted by troubles more than any other?" Today, she writes,

We are witnesses of an ego that has grown beyond all bounds, causing suffering to ourselves and everyone around us. The history of our young state clearly shows that there is no brotherly love between us, and thus, that we aren’t a true nation. When each individual in our nation attains real freedom – freedom from his ego, the ability to go through life with love for his fellow men – then the State of Israel will attain its true independence. We have to catch up to the modern reality and join forces in order to rise above our egos, which separate us. Then each individual in the nation will feel united to the rest, and will contribute to the group that nourishes him.

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