Israel at 73
By David E. Kaplan
Not sure how the field of psychology would view it but there is something strangely unique in Israel’s character and calendar that only a split second separates joyful Independence Day from the sad day that precedes it. Possibly perplexing to non-Israelis – the shift from grief to joy in the space of a heartbeat – but that is what Israelis do each year. For 24 hours we remember and honour those fallen in defense of the State of Israel as well as victims of terror, and the next 24 hours we celebrate the fruits of that sacrifice – an independent Jewish State after 2000 years of exile and unrelenting persecution. Coming a week after Yom HaShoah where we remember and honour the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Jews know the PRICE of statehood because they also understand the NEED for statehood.
If the Jewish partisan and poet Abba Kovner wrote in a pamphlet in 1942 “Let us not go like lambs to the slaughter!” to inspire his fellow Jews in the Vilnius area to take up arms against their German invaders, then look only to the following year of 1943 and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In the largest single revolt by Jews during World War II, the uprising by a civilian population, untrained and without sophisticated weapons – men women and children – held off the might of the Nazi invader for nearly a month. Very impressive when you compare it was nearly the same length of time as the trained Polish army took to be defeated by the German army – one month!
Far from “lambs to the slaughter”, they were heroes to a man, woman and child.
Twenty-four hours preceding Israel’s annual sound of fireworks is the sound of the siren, when traffic stops and people stop talking in mid-sentence. Life in Israel is frozen for those two minutes encapsuling so many bitter and tragic memories. I for one always think first of the names of those I know who were either killed in uniform or perished in a terrorist attack – I rattle them off in my mind as I stand solemnly, their faces flash by as if flipping over the pages of a cerebral picture album.
According to the Defense Ministry, the country’s total number of people killed in war and terrorist attacks now stands at 23,928 They are not numbers – their names and faces are known throughout the land – each and every one of them!
On the flip side, as we celebrate Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, and reflect on the loss of 6,000,000 Jews mourned only a week ago on Yom HaShoah, today we can celebrate Israel’s population standing at 9,327,000 million – over a third more than was lost in the Shoah – and growing.
If on a national note we take pleasure that 167,000 babies have been born over the past year, I take personal pleasure that one of those babies is my grandson. I take further pleasure that another is on the way.
Yes, the country can feel proud of its inventions and innovations from hi-tech to Smart Mobility but this Independence Day, I reflect on our successes in the baby manufacturing business that all Israelis are super active in.
What can bring more delight that looking upon these ‘products’ in nappies under the ‘blue and white’ brand:
“Made in Israel”!
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