Today the people of the United States of America are celebrating 240 years of independence as a colony of Great Britain. Two wishful Jewish lifetimes… ad maya v’esrim… until 120. Today is Independence Day for Americans everywhere.
America has a written and revered Constitution signed by the elder statesmen who proclaimed July 4, 1776 as a day of freedom and liberation.
The whole world knows what America has accomplished in those 240 years of her great history. But what about us?
Will our offspring celebrate 240 years of Israel’s independence as a mandate of Great Britain in May 2188? What will we be at that time?
Will we be the Jewish State of Israel? The Democratic State of Israel? The Zionist State of Israel? The Rabbinic Religious State of Israel? Who will sign the Constitution which we do not have? Will we be an Israel at all?
Looking back over the past 68 years of our sovereign State’s independence we can be immensely proud of our accomplishments and achievements. From the early ma’abarot to high-rise penthouse apartments, our early olim can look back in wonder and amazement.
Our early years were full of pride and excitement. Everything was new to us. We were the new baby in the neighborhood of mankind.
Glancing at our young generation today, we see somewhat less pride, more “me”-ism, interest in gadgets, cellphones, I-phones, hand-held computers. We talk by e-mail and machines and cellphones rather than panim-el-panim (face to face). There is more egotism and demand for monetary things and less interest in social welfare of our communities and the well-being of our neighbors.
Once we were a united nation whereas today we are fragmented and divided.
In our formulative years, soldiers freed from completed military service would trek to the northern Galilee or make their way to the Red Sea and the beaches of Um Rashrash (Eilat). Today they choose to trek the mountains of India, the beaches of Thailand, forests in Vietnam and Cambodia… all the exotic places on the globe, forgetting the beauties of nature and the wonders which can be found in our own country.
Washing dishes in cafes and restaurants in Israel is beneath them. But it is not beneath them to do those jobs in London or New York. Driving a taxi is anathema to young Tel-Avivians but they do it in Manhattan because the salary is better.
They won’t pay the price for Milky in one of Rami Levi’s supermarkets but they don’t hesitate to buy it on the Kurfurstendam or Unter den Linden in Berlin.
The values of our chalutzim from 1882 to 1948 have simply disappeared. And the values from 1948 to the present day have shifted with the winds of time. Today’s youth are not the youth of past years. Once a committed youth, today’s generation is mostly self-centered.
And yet, we have many reasons to be proud of the bright minds who work in our high-tech industry, who discover new medicines for the treatment of the ill, who have made of our army, navy and air force world powers with which we can swell in pride.
We have achieved cool peace with Egypt and Jordan. Travel between those countries is one-way. We go there but they refuse to come here.
Our settlements are growing and expanding to the anger of the UN, EU, America and certainly all the Arab and Muslim nations. But while we have chosen the path to peace, our Arab neighbors with the exception of Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan still prefer the paths of war and destruction and violent terrorism.
We wish the Americans a very happy 240th birthday. Who will wish us the same in 2188?