Fear and loathing in 67-year old Israel

An article on American plans for mass celebrations of Israel’s existence follows Zvi Bar’el and an inset on Carl Cox, the British DJ who has accepted the gig of performing at the ‘mega-event’ in Israel.

An aerial show at the Israel Air Force museum in Kibbutz Hatzerim held as part of celebrations for Israel’s Independence Day 2014. Photo by Amir Cohen, Reuters.

Israel at 67: Unsure of itself as ever

A country without borders, with one foot stuck in the throat of another nation, is celebrating its success in reaching its 67th year.

By Zvi Bar’el, Ha’aretz
April 22, 2015

A grumbling, angry, scared, divided and hate-filled country is marking its independence today. A country without borders, with one foot stuck in the throat of another nation, is celebrating its success in reaching its 67th year.

Independence Day is an Israeli holiday, in other words the holiday of Israeli Jews. As though it were a religious holiday. Because the independent state is still waging a “war of survival” against roughly one fifth of its citizens. Although this country won international recognition, it behaves as though it is still a candidate for such status. As though the community that approved its independence may revoke recognition of it, or harm its sovereignty.

Time after time, Israel invents a new test of the international community’s loyalty to its decision. For example, rejecting the existence of a Palestinian state is a test for recognition of Israel’s right to exist. In other words, anyone who supports a Palestinian state is automatically overturning Israel’s right to exist. Never mind, the nations of the world are suspected of Jew-hatred in any case.

But it’s also a test for the Jews, in Israel and worldwide. Here the sword divides two worlds. Support for Palestinian independence revokes the title of “Zionist” from both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews. Because anyone who is not a Zionist, according to the state, is displaying defective Judaism. After all, Zionism is the diplomatic and political Jewish infrastructure, without which there is no reason for the existence of the Jewish state as a national entity, and not solely a religious one.

But Israel isn’t satisfied with fulfilling the Zionist dream; it is trying to be the refuge for all the world’s Jews. The problem is that by its definition as a Zionist state, only Zionist Jews can consider Israel a country of refuge. The Jews of France, the United States and Great Britain, who identify firstly – and sometimes exclusively – with the country of their citizenship, are considered non-Zionists and in any case anti-Israel, as if they are questioning the reason for the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

The paradox inherent in this equation is that Israel is the only country that is in need of dual recognition – that of the international community, which is already in its pocket, and that of the Jewish people, the part that has yet to see the Zionist light. This paradox is placed like a millstone on the shoulders of every Jew who lives outside Israel, whether he is a yored (a Jew who has left Israel) or a Jew who does not intend to “make aliyah.”

Independence Day 1968. After the 6-day war in 1967, the IDF became the most celebrated product of the country. Photo by Werner Braun, JPost archives.

Each of them is a traitor to the idea of the Jewish state. He is eroding not only the demographic foundation required to maintain a Zionist majority in Israel, he is also questioning the principle of the “country of refuge” and the very claim that Israel is the only country where Jews can realize their Judaism. After all, what’s the point of a country of refuge if the potential clients turn their backs on it?

This identity crisis has characterized the state since its establishment, and it fires the state’s insatiable pursuit of recognition of its raison d’etre. But it is precisely this pursuit that fuels the doubt. Can a country that is unsure of its identity be considered independent? Is a nation-state that is unable to convince most of the nation to settle in it allowed to describe itself as a country of refuge, and to base the reason for its independent existence on that?

These questions do not arise in any other country. Because independent countries are countries that belong to their citizens, all their citizens, even those whose ethnic or religious origins lie elsewhere. On the other hand, a country that conditions its right to exist on the loyalty of Jews who are citizens of other countries will find it hard to convince even itself of its independence. It will always doubt its ability to realize its vision. Israel’s independence will be complete the moment it agrees to recognize the independence of Diaspora Jewry and their right to decide where they will live, and makes do with being the state of the Israelis, those who live within the sovereign borders that were recognized by the international community.

Palestinian youth scale the the wall near Jerusalem to reach Al Aqsa mosque. Will the celebrations of Israel’s ‘independence’ include their achievement in building the longest apartheid wall, at 670 kilometres, in the world?

Carl Cox, the British DJ who will head up the mega event in Tel Aviv next week celebrating Israel’s 67th birthday. Ynet April 2015

US cities to hold huge celebrations for Israeli Independence Day

Israeli-American Council organizing five mass festivals in May, which will be largest Jewish activity in North America; 50,000 expected to attend.

By Ynet
April 20, 2015

The Israeli-American Council will hold celebrations marking Israel’s Independence Day this year for the first time, in a sign of the organization’s expansion and the growth of the Israeli community in the United States.

The five mass festivals around the US will take place throughout May and will be the largest Jewish activity in North America, with more than 50,000 Israeli-Americans expected to participate. The locations were chosen in proportion to the size of the local Israeli community. Miami will hold its festival on May 3, followed by Las Vegas a week later, Los Angeles on May 17, and New York and Boston on May 31.

The festivals will include a technology pavilion, as well as stands showcasing Israeli graffiti, fashion displays, and more. Israeli musicians will also be performing, including Shlomi Shabat, Ethnix, Rita, and other artists.

“The festivals will give the tens of thousands of participants coast to coast the possibility to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day for a whole day, which is an experience showing all that is beautiful and good in Israel,” said Sagi Balasha, the group’s CEO.

The festivals, which are an important element of the IAC’s diverse activity around the US, will help recruit the Israeli-American and Jewish community for the pro-Israel activism that’s needed today, more than in the past, in light of the increase in anti-Semitism and attempts to delegitimize Israel around the US and the entire world.”

An estimated 500,000-80,000 Israelis live in the United States, making it the largest Israeli community outside of Israel.

The Israeli-American Council is currently active in six US locations – New York, Boston, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

The IAC was founded in 2007 with the goal of uniting the Israeli community to support Israel, guarantee the identity of future generations of Israelis living in the US, and building a bridge with the Jewish-American community. The organization holds events and activities in many fields, in which about 100,000 people participate each year.