As my Yeshiva celebrates Yom Haatzmaut I have heard many songs sung about Yerushaleim. Realizing that 66 years ago we did not even have Yerushaleim, I began to think about what Yom Haatzmaut really means. 66 years ago we conquered and established Medinas Yisroel, but we didn’t have Eretz Yisroel quite yet.
It saddens me to think that so much of what we know and are familiar with when it comes to Israel is really post ’67 war. We must remember that we did not have the Kotel, Maaros HaMachpela (the grave of the our four fathers and mothers) Mt. Olives, the Dead Sea and much more until ’67. Personally, these are what I have a connection to in Israel. What would Israel be without any of the Biblical sights, what would Israel be without Yerushaleim. Thousands of people died to protect every inch of Israel.
So what are we really celebrating on Yom Haatzmaut? We are celebrating that we were finally safe and had a place that any Jew could call home. This was ever so important coming out of the ashes of the Holocaust. 1948 gave insurance to the phrase “never again.” When we were attacked in ’67 by all sides we realized how vulnerable our nine mile stretch of land (at the smallest point) was. We needed a buffer zone, and so we conquered it. Anyone who questions this buffer zone is questioning the existence of Israel. Without this buffer zone, whether you are shopping in the Azrielli Towers in Tel-Aviv or sunbathing on one of Acco’s beautiful beaches, you would be put at high risk. Nowhere in Israel would be safe. 1948 was one small step for Israel and 1967 was one giant leap for every Jew.