It’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, and, as remarked upon by both local and foreign observers, the country swings in a schizophrenic kind of way from the mourning, sorrow and remembrance of Yom Hazikaron to the flag-waving patriotism and general merry-making of Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Prayers marking the transition from the mourning of Yom Hazikaron to the celebrations of Yom Haatzmaut were held in synagogues throughout the country.
As I did last year, I attended the festive prayer service in my daughter’s community of Karnei Shomron; the shul was packed and people sang the psalms and prayers with great gusto. The highlight of the service was the blowing not one, but 4 Shofars in a deafening blast followed by a rousing rendition of “Next year in Jerusalem!”.
The prayers were followed by some dancing and then a very entertaining show put on by the town’s residents. Every age group took part, from kindergarten to grandparents, and I had huge nachas from seeing my grandchildren perform in the show put on by the community.
Since Israel is always chided and reprimanded that our actions are causing us to become isolated in the world, it is refreshing to read Yoram Ettinger’s article questioning this received wisdom, “At 68 – Is Israel isolated?“. The answer of course is a resounding No.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other Western policymakers, joined by much of the “elite” Western media, have repeatedly argued that 68-year-old Israel is becoming increasingly isolated due to its defiance of global pressure to evacuate the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, which tower over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport and 80% of Israel’s population, transportation, technological and business infrastructure.
Since 1948, global pressure on Israel to commit itself to dramatic concessions has been a fixture of Israel’s foreign policy and public diplomacy, accompanied by warnings that Israel was dooming itself to painful isolation. An examination of Israel’s global position — economically, militarily and diplomatically — reveals that irrespective of Israel’s uphill diplomatic challenges, reality routinely disproved these warnings as Israel demonstrated unprecedented integration into the global street.
… This is highlighted by Israel’s unprecedented civilian and military cooperation with the international community, in response to growing international demand for Israel’s military, economic, technological, scientific, medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural innovations.
Notwithstanding Europe’s support of the Palestinian Authority and harsh criticism of Israel, NATO does not subscribe to the “isolate Israel” policy. The organization follows its own order of geo-strategic priorities and therefore refuses to cut off its nose to spite its face. Hence, on May 3, 2016, NATO significantly upgraded its ties with Israel, inviting Jerusalem to establish a permanent mission at their Brussels headquarters.
Ettinger goes on to list all the major countries who have deepened trade, economic and diplomatic ties with Israel, including China, Hong Kong, India and more, with investments totalling billions of dollars. Israel’s credit rating is still A, encouraging yet more foreign investments and trade. He concludes:
At 68, Israel is highly integrated into the key global disciplines, in defiance of Kerry’s warning that “if we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel.” The secretary’s warning is overwhelmingly squelched by global reality. In fact, 71% of the U.S. public considers Israel favorably, according to the February 2016 annual Gallup poll.
With this resounding testimonial in mind, there is no better time than Yom Haatzmaut to declare ourselves as proud Zionists and to celebrate our beautiful home. To put you in the right frame of mind, watch this fantastic video by the a capella band Kippalive: We Are Home (via Linda M and Rachel Borenstein):
Since today is Israel’s 68th birthday, here are 68 facts you probably didn’t know about Israel – and many of them are sure to bring a smile to your face! (via Israellycool):
And if you want to know, or to be reminded, of why we love our little country so much, watch the following video and experience the incredible beauty of Israel:
Happy Birthday Israel! Chag Same’ach! I won’t say עד מאה ועשרים – ad me’ah ve’esrim (until 120) – because I hope you live till thousands of years old!