Israel turns 64 today, and to mark the special day, blogger Benji Lovitt has written a hilarious – and oh-so-true – list of 64 things he loves about Israel. I say Amen to all of them! Here’s a sample, read the rest. (h/t Israellycool).
1. I love how Israelis can be completely indifferent to politics but will still argue about their favorite hummus place until they blow an artery.
8. I love how when you call a wrong number on Passover, they still say “hag sameah” before hanging up.
9. I love that instead of worrying about kids developing peanut allergies, parents feed their babies Bamba before the doctor has even finished cutting the umbilical cord.
27. I love that during the tent protests, some protesters set up makeshift communal kitchens. Even when pretending to be homeless, Israelis still make fresh salads.
28. I love that no one here cares what Snooki ate for breakfast but the Kinneret’s crossing the red line causes my Facebook news feed to explode.
35. I love that my Arab cab driver says “baruch Hashem” in Hebrew.
36. I love that Arab guys scream “Alte zachen!!!” in YIDDISH. I guess this is less surprising when you consider that our slang is in Arabic. Sababa!
39. I love that when someone accidentally drops a dish, everyone in the vicinity screams “mazal tov!”
40. I love that kids can walk home at any hour in this country and feel safe. While this may be an adjustment for children of olim, the biggest thing they need to worry about is their overprotective parents.
On a more serious note, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, delivered an outstanding speech to the UN Security Council “Open debate on the situation in the Middle East”. It is the best piece of PR for Israel that I have read in an awfully long time, and although the circumstances were not ideal, the speech is a beautiful tribute to Israel on its birthday.
Myth number one: the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is the central conflict in the Middle East. If you solve that conflict, you solve all the other conflicts in the region.Make no mistake: it is important for Israel and the Palestinians to resolve our longstanding conflict for its own merits. Yet, the truth is that conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, and many other parts of the Middle East have absolutely nothing to do with Israel.
It is obvious that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict won’t stop the persecution of minorities across the region, end the subjugation of women, or heal the sectarian divides. Obsessing over Israel has not stopped Assad’s tanks from flattening entire communities. On the contrary, it has only distracted attention from his crimes.
Myth number two: there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. In fact, numerous international organizations have said clearly that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the Deputy Head of the Red Cross Office in the area.
Each rocket in Gaza is armed with a warhead capable of causing a political earthquake that would extend well beyond Israel’s borders. It will only take one rocket that lands in the wrong place at the wrong time to change the equation on the ground. If that happens, Israel’s leaders would be forced to respond in a completely different manner. It is time for all in this Chamber to finally wake up to that dangerous reality. The Security Council has not condemned a single rocket attack from Gaza. History’s lessons are clear. Today’s silence is tomorrow’s tragedy.
Myth number three: settlements are the primary obstacle to peace.How many times have we heard that argument in this chamber?Just this month, the Human Rights Council proposed yet another “fact-finding” mission to Israel. It will explore…surprise, surprise…Israeli settlements.Today, I’d like to save the Human Rights Council and the international community some time and energy.The facts have already been found. They are plain for all to see.
The fact is that from 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt. The Arab World did nothing – it did not lift a finger – to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel’s annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.
Ladies and Gentleman – the Palestinian leadership has never, ever said publicly that they will give up the so-called “claim of return” – neither to the Palestinian people, nor to the Arab World, nor to the international community, or to anyone else.Since the Palestinian leadership refuses to tell the Palestinian people the truth, the international community has the responsibility and duty to tell them the truth. You have a duty to stand up and say that the so-called “claim of return” is a non-starter.Instead of telling the Palestinian people the truth, much of the international community stands idle as the Arab World tries to erase the Jewish people’s historical connection to the Land of Israel.Across the Arab World – and even at this table – you hear claims that Israel is “Judaizing Jerusalem”. These accusations come about 3,000 years too late. It’s like accusing the NBA of Americanizing basketball.Like many nations around this table, the Jewish people have a proud legacy of age-old kings and queens. It’s just that our tradition goes back a few years earlier. Since King David laid the cornerstone for his palace in the 10th Century BC, Jerusalem has served as the heart of our faith.In debate after debate, speakers sit in the Security Council and say that Israel is committing “ethnic cleansing” in Jerusalem, even though the percentage of Arab residents in the city has grown from 26% to 35% since 1967.
The holiest sites in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, were closed only to Jews from 1948 until 1967. Everyone could come to these sites except Jews. There was absolutely no freedom of worship. The world did not say a word about the situation in Jerusalem at that time.
I love that zinger about Jerusalem. Classic! Read the whole thing. It’s just brilliant.
Back to a more celebratory mood, and the Jerusalem Post has a report on the opening ceremony on Mt. Herzl.
And here are a couple of videos taken in the Bet Haknesset Hagadol (Great Synagogue) of Petach Tikva tonight. The tefila (prayer service) was extremely moving with hundreds of people singing at the tops of their voices. There was a professional chazan (cantor) and even a couple of musical instruments which are never played at any other time in Orthodox services. (Apologies for the quality). If you look carefully you can see the beautiful baroque interior of the shul (although it is in bad need of repair and renovation). The ladies (including myself) were sitting upstairs in the gallery. Our view of the proceedings was hampered somewhat by the balustrade (which is why I got my son to do the videoing) but the sound quality was awesome. The acoustics of the synagogue, with its vaulted roof, are amazing.
The first video is Shir Hamaalot (Psalms 126) sung to the tune of Hatikva, the national anthem:
In the second video you can faintly hear the shofar blast, followed by the congregation breaking into song with Leshana Haba’ah BiYerushalayim – Next Year in Jerusalem.
Mazal tov Israel! חג שמח! Happy 64th! I won’t say עד מאה ועשרים – ad me’ah ve’esrim (until 120) – because I hope you live till thousands of years old!
We will be celebrating tomorrow with a Grand Family Mangal (Barbecue) in the garden of our daughter’s house, possibly preceded by a tiyul down the river valley nearby.
Share with us in the comments how you will be celebrating tomorrow. Or list your 64 reasons (or more!) why you love Israel!