Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


Israel's Independence Day - Yom Ha'Atzmaut


When Israel became an independent country on the 5th day of Iyaar in the year 5708 it would have appeared to an uninformed observer that this was just one more small nation finally ridding itself of the colonial overlords who had occupied the country these many years. Such a casual observation would surely have been justified in view of the attainment of independence of so many counties after the end of the Second World War. Colonialism had come to an end because of that great struggle and the British were not only forced out of Israel but also had to leave most countries in Africa along with the French and the Belgians. The Dutch left Indonesia and even the Portuguese were forced to give up their last holding in India.

There were however a number of  differences between the achievement of independence for Israel and the independence others reached then. The first of these differences was that Israel had become a state again after 1900 years. That is not to say that there were no Jews in Israel during all those years. In fact, the majority of the population of Israel was always Jewish. It was only after the Russian Jews began to rebuild that country at the end of the 19th century that Arabs from neighboring areas moved into Israel in order to take advantage of the labor and investments the Jews had made into colonial Israel under Turkish and British occupation.

When David Ben Gurion proclaimed the reestablishment of a free and democratic Israel on May 14, 1948 the  184 million Arabs surrounding 600,000 Jews attacked that small Jewish community with all the weapons the British had given them before leaving. Hopelessly outnumbered, surrounded on all sides, cut off from any outside help, the Jews of Israel nevertheless succeeded in surviving the murderous assault by the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Iraq and all the bloodthirsty "volunteers" from other Arab lands. The survival of Israel then and at every other Arab assault is indeed a miracle which is not only to be attributed to the immense courage of our brethren in Israel but to Shem Yisborach.

In 1967 another astounding victory during the Six Day War saved Israel once more from Nazi style annihilation planned by Egypt and Syria with the connivance of Jordan. That great victory was once more a miracle, particularly in face of the utter indifference of the world to what looked once more like a probable Holocaust.

Since then, Israel has defended itself against the unrelenting hatred of the Arab world who only 7 months ago began yet another campaign of killing and destruction aimed at annihilating Israel with the help of the so-called United Nations. That campaign will not succeed. It indicates, however, that after 53 years the Arab view of Jews has not changed. To them, and their followers, Jews have no right to exist. Therefore Israel has not right to exist. Since Jews exist despite this belief, it follows that the Arabs and their friends have the duty to kill Jews anywhere. Consequently, a real peace between the Arab bigots and Israel can only be attained in the form of a cease-fire based on the superiority of Israel's military strength and the determination of the United States to support the only democracy in the Middle East. That has been done most decidedly by the current administration in Washington and was demonstrated only this week when the State Department placed the blame for the violence now continuing there on the so-called Hizbollah killers and their Syrian friends.

We need to remember that the liberals for whom almost all Jews keep voting never supported Israel as forcefully as is done by those who received almost no Jewish votes at all. We Jews need to keep in mind who our friends really are and stop our automatic prostration before any idiocy labeled "liberal".

In Israel, Independence Day is preceded by a day of remembrance for the fallen soldiers who have defended Israel these 53 years. Then, a great celebration encompassed the whole land. Fireworks are displayed in every town and city. Entertainers perform on every stage. Dancing and music are heard until late at night and every neighborhood is decorated with flags and lights.

On Independence Day the President of Israel receives the outstanding soldiers of the year at his residence, an International Bible Contest is held and in every Beth Ha' Tefillah  special prayers of thanksgiving are recited.

It is indeed a great day for Israel, for all Jews and for all who are willing to recognize that the achievement of tiny Israel reflects how courage and determination with the help of Shem Yisborach can overcome every obstacle and every enemy. In the words of Theodore Herzl, “If you will it, is is no dream”.

Shalom u’vracha.

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