Almost hard to believe and yet, sitting here in my house - complete with elements of comfort unheard of in the early years of the State (read kitchen with real stove, walk-in closet which I didn't even have in Bklyn, etc) it isn't hard to believe. Israel often feels like other places in the world - a place of consumerism, of navel-gazism, of divides of wealth, of gated-communitiesm, and other 'isms that I'd hope to leave behind in the USofA. Still, it is a small place and when the country mourns, it's surprisingly together and when they celebrate, you feel the mood change as if you're all sitting in the same stadium.
I can't say that it's an easy celebration. Regardless of how you look a the founding of Israel, ashes of the Holocaust, yadda yadda and I don't take the post war period lightly, the fact remains that it ain't 1945 tomorrow and that the ideals that were present in that period are different. Israel remains a country entrenched - at least for some - in the post-war period but there are many to whom that doesn't resonate. Where do they think the state appeared from I'm not sure but certainly not out of the remnants who were not gassed in Auschwitz. For Jews from Sephardic countries their Israel is a Messianic one - which they preyed and hoped for all those years in the Diaspora. Not that Ashkenazic Jews didn't think that way either but it was different and WWII gave a different shading to everything that came after.
How do you celebrate when so much seems screwed up and weird. When your country is either enmeshed in political scandals, one right after the other, or an existential fight for emotional survival. Ahmedinajad aside - whatever he's going to do, he'll do - Israel's survival seems much more an issue of people's emotions and their desire for a different kind of life. One where people's children don't have to go off to be trained as soldiers and one where the country could focus on peace and normal life. To me I wonder why we can't just turn this thing around - learn how to make peace, how to develop a new paradigm, a new way of doing the 'peace business' and maybe find a way to show our neighbors that we mean it. I'm so tired of reading of our soldiers misbehaving on guard - of being obnoxious and abusive of their power - of our citizens showing contempt for fellow citizens - Gabe had that experience waiting for felafel recently where the Arab guy was kept waiting and waiting and waiting...I'm not naive, I just don't like the facts on the table and feel that new tables and new facts are needed.
18 minutes ago