Wednesday, April 29, 2020

On Celebrating Independence

A left-wing Zionist immigrant asked this week: "How do we celebrate independence at the cost of someone else’s freedom?"

I answered that question with a question: "How do we celebrate winning wars, when it comes at the cost of other people losing them?"

It's a choice between celebrating independence and mourning a massacre. I'll take the former.


UPDATE: Someone commented, Does the world really celebrate winning wars? My answer:

Times Square V-E Day Celebration NYC 1945 WWII Photo Print for Sale 

Note: My point is not that Israel Independence Day is about celebrating the victory of the War of Independence (it isn't). My point is that such celebrations are about matters of very real importance to our survival as a nation.

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32 comments:

  1. Rabbi, I think your analogy is very apt: we do indeed celebrate winning wars but recognise at the same time the awful human cost they can carry, as in Chazal describing God looking on at the מצריים drowning and commenting מעשה ידי טובעים בים ואתם אומרים שירה? So too here, we celebrate our freedom and the establishment of our state, but that should go hand in hand with an acknowledgment of the genuine hardships it caused and continues to cause for those around us.

    Thanks as always for your insightful and interesting posts.

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    1. It was to the angels that God said that. Being above the fray, as it were, they were expected to be more objective. The people were not held to such an unreasonable standard.

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    2. Actually, as Hanashke proves, that quote is largely misunderstood. It was said about the Israelites as they were in the water, not about the drowning Egyptians.

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    3. @Yehoshua who says that? it's very interesting.

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    4. I heard it was the other way around. G-d was lamenting about the pagan Egyptians. I thought no Israelite drowned?

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    5. @Yehoshua could you post the verse so all can see your interpretation of it? I never noticed your interpretation when I read it.

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    6. That was indeed said about the drowning Egyptians. There's a Chasidic pshat which throws that drush on its ear, but the classic understanding is that the drowning victims were Egyptian, also the Almighty's children, and therefore the angels should've been a bit more sympathetic.

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  2. It makes no sense for left-wingers to seek out JEWISH Israel as a home. Did you point out the hypocrisy? Ask the Leftwing to think about the choices it made? Ask leftwing why it didn't let someone who wants to live in Israel come here instead? What does leftwing define as a perfectly fine, politically perfect place to live?

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  3. The question is based on a lie. Israel's freedom was not based on denying the local Arabs freedom. Israel accepted Un ga 181 which called for freedom both for Arabs and Jews.
    Jews to get a Jewish state, Arabs to get an Arab state.

    It was the Arabs who wanted to deny the Jews their freedom, not the Jews who wanted to deny the Arabs their freedom.

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    1. "Does the world really celebrate winning wars?"

      Of course not. It's not like the Russians celebrate May 9th over their victory against the Nazis in the Second World war, and America definitely does not celebrate their Independence day. Who could dream of such a thing!

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    2. I agree with what you wrote. The modern State of Israel does not deny Arabs their freedom. Just the opposite is true, Arabs deny Jewish freedom.

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    3. On Mr. Hill's last comment:
      Well, the argument would be about the Arabs in the Occupied Territories. They are not citizens to the same degree, to my limited understanding. Therefore, their freedoms are limited (they are limited by checkpoints in going to work, they cannot vote, etc).

      The issue is of course that there would be a problem with population statistics if total citizenship is granted, resulting in an existential imbalance.

      Also, violence. Those clamoring for complete Palestinian Arab freedom tend to forget about how terrorism acts tend to rise when the checkpoints are lowered.

      Again, this is to my limited understanding, based on quite possibly outdated information.
      (Also, in case anyone interprets my comment as being counter-Zionist in some way, um, don't. We can recognize the problems without demonizing.)

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    4. To Yosef R
      "Those clamoring for complete Palestinian Arab freedom tend to forget about how terrorism acts tend to rise when the checkpoints are lowered."

      This is actually a noticeable phenomenon. Notice how revolutions never occur when the common people are suppressed. Revolutions only rise when the government grants its citizens enough rights. For example, knowledge, technology, freedom of thought, etc. Once people have a taste of what life could be like they want to expand their taste and this is usually done with violence. All revolutions fall within this category. That aside, the modern State of Israel does give Arabs rights, so much so that even the signs in the "non-occupied territories" read Arabic.

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    5. The Arab nations always played it as a "zero-sum game".
      Just like when people play poker, only one person can win, until the others either drop out, or lose all of their money.

      They never presented an option where both sides win: even the Oslo Accords could be seen as just a facade to increase their ability to perform more intensive terror attacks against what remains of Israel.

      And reaching a negotiated end to the conflict has been just a farce: Even when offered over 98% of the West Bank, and 2% more from Israel proper (and Israel having left all of the Gaza Strip) the Palestinians still whine that "Israel isn't serious about peace".

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    6. I agree with want you wrote. No one can deny that Israel offered peace and a two-state solution at least five-time. Each time, the Arabs either rejected or went to war. They don't want land. They don't even want peace. They want the full eradication of the modern State of Israel.

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  4. Note: My point is not that Israel Independence Day is about celebrating the victory of the War of Independence (it isn't).

    This is certainly the main thing that someone who believes in the Torah is celebrating. Not that there's nothing worth celebrating in establishment of the state, just nothing that anyone would imagine was worthy of saying Hallel about, anymore than someone would say Hallel about the establishment of the Hasmonean polity.

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    1. I disagree. The establishment of a homeland for the jewish people in which they can feel safe and cultivate there own society is certainly something a torah believing jew can celebrate. it has nothing to do with it coming about through a war.
      Notice how i am not importing lofty religious significance to the state or condoning all its laws and actions. without all that there is still reason to be happy that there is a jewish state.
      Joshuah Miller

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    2. Gavriel: Are you familiar with the Rambam's preamble to Hilchot Hanukkah? He more than implies that establishment of the Hasmonean polity is indeed, at least in part, what we are saying Hallel about...

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    3. @Shlomo Goren.

      You're right he does appear to suggest that, but it's still only part of the list and the main focus is on the military victory, the restoration of Jewish religion and the end of persecution.

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  5. "How do we celebrate independence at the cost of someone else’s freedom?"

    At what cost!? Look, I don't share the views of Meir Kahane, but the modern State of Israel gives Arabs so much freedom that we even have signs in Arabic. True, Jews have signs, too. Only our signs warn us not to enter Arab communities...

    And here's something interesting: a video about an Arab woman, who enters a Jewish community. See the video to find out what happens next (link below).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKm9bSk5mhA

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    1. Pretty sure he's talking about the Arabs who were kicked out of Israel during the 1948 war. All the people in refugee camps who can't return to Israel.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_refugee_camps

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    2. And don't forget the arabs in the occupied territories whose movements and lives a restricted on the most basic level.
      And don't tell me that its an unfortunate situation that is necessary because of terrorism - most religious Zionists (i suspect most readers of this blog included) would on principle never give citizenship or true autonomy to the Palestinians.

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    3. 98% of people in refugee camps who can't return to Israel were not born there and have no right to go to Israel.

      They should be naturalised by the countries they were born in.

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    4. anonymous, you say most would on principle never give citizenship to the Palestinians.

      Most Germans would on principle never give citizenship to the French and vice versa.

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    5. @Yisroel Chai
      Yes, but the germans allow the french to have there own free country.

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    6. Can someone explain why the Arabs deserve a "free country" when they denied Israel's offer — five times — and still reject a two-state solution, Trump's deal of the century, and anything Bibi offers. I am currently convinced that they don't really want a state at all, even if they insist that they do. What they truly want is the eradication of the modern State of Israel.

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  6. @Anonymous

    The French leadership do not have a declared policy of The Germans not having the right to self determination. The palestinian leadership have admitted in the past they only want a state of their own to destroy Israel.

    So with their own words they have forefeited the right to their own state.

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    1. That is simply not true, but its completely besides the point.
      My point was that even if the Palestinians truly became peace loving and sincerely swore off violence most religious Zionists would still object to allowing them they're own state on any terms. They don't even support trumps deal of the century being followed through to the end despite its extreme bias towards Israel and security guarantees -because in the end it gives them a state.
      This is an immoral stance - on the one hand to deny them the rights of citizens and on the other hand deny them their won state.

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  7. Not religious Zionists, only Charedim. Modern Orthodox Jews don't mind Arabs. But the Palestinians mind Jews and want to eradicate the modern State of Israel. You will have to prove why this is not the case.

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  8. @anonymous
    Most religious zionists do not support support trumps deal of the century being followed through to the end, because they do do not trust the palestinians in light of their leaders promises /threats towards the Jewish state.

    Let the palestinians express genuine remorse for attempting to throw the jews into the sea and voting in the genocidal hamas.

    For the past 70 years they have been denying Jewish state right to exist. Let them just for a generation reverse policy and be Israel advocates.

    You will see the majority of Religious zionists will reciprocate and accept a reasonable comromise on the disputed west bank on the Trump guidelines.

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  9. Do you really believe the palestinian leadership have never admitted in the past they only want a state of their own to destroy Israel.?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLO%27s_Ten_Point_Program


    PLO's Ten Point Program (in Arabic: برنامج النقاط العشر) (by Israel called the PLO's Phased Plan) is the plan accepted by the Palestinian National Council (PNC), the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), at its 12th meeting held in Cairo on 8 June 1974.


    ...


    When the Oslo Accords were signed, many Israeli right-wing politicians openly claimed that this was part of the ploy to implement the Ten Point Program.[1] Some of them based this claim on the fact that only 12 days before the signing of the Oslo Accords (September 13, 1993), a pre-recorded speech directed towards the Palestinian people by Arafat himself was broadcast on Jordanian radio, in which Arafat made the following statement about the Oslo agreement:

    [the agreement] will be a basis for an independent Palestinian state in accordance with the Palestinian National Council resolution issued in 1974... The PNC resolution issued in 1974 calls for the establishment of a national authority on any part of Palestinian soil from which Israel withdraws or which is liberated.[2]

    The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has regarded that the Palestinian leadership asserted that the Oslo Accord is part of the PLO's 1974 Phased Plan for Israel's destruction.[2]

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  10. I have been living in Israel for two years and I am little confused about Independence Day.

    First of all, independence from what? The State of Israel is entirely dependent on the good will of the United States government. If the US were to impose sanctions on Israel as it did on South Africa in 1986, the Israeli government would collapse as quickly as apartheid did.

    Actually all that happened on 5 Iyar 1948 is that the government of Palestine passed from Britain to the Mapai Party. I'm not saying that this was a bad thing, however I don't feel the need to make a big celebration either.

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