5 Iyar 5708. In a packed hall in the Tel Aviv museum, with a portrait of Theodor Herzl behind him, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. At that precise moment an entire people, after living in exile for centuries, finally had the possibility of returning to the Promised Land.
75 years after the Declaration of Independence, the Jewish State is experiencing a critical moment in its history: on the one hand there is the constant threat of a nuclear Iran and Palestinian terrorism, whilst on the other hand there is the worst internal political crisis Israel has ever seen.
The latter has brought out divisions within society that at the moment seem irreconcilable. Already in 2015, former President Reuven Rivlin at the Herzliya Conference defined the country as “divided into four tribes”: the secular Zionists, the religious Zionists, the Haredim and the Arabs. For decades the willingness of the various parties to seek a compromise has allowed the State of Israel to become the country we know. However, this mechanism has now broken down. The five rounds of elections and the victory of Netanyahu’s coalition have created a short circuit that makes dialogue no more than a farfetched dream. The protests for and against the judicial reform desired by Yariv Levin represents only the veil of Maya behind which lies the real core of the question: what will the future Israel be like?
This question cannot be answered, but one thing is certain: one of the greatest virtues of the Jewish people is resilience. Indeed, it is precisely in these moments that Am Israel finds its own Achdut, its own unity. In times of need, Israel is always capable of being Am Echad beLev Echad, a people with one heart.
What happens in the State of Israel, as always, also influences our communities in the Diaspora. For this reason, drawing on what Rav Yisrael Meir Lau said during the March of the Living, here is the invitation we want to make to our brothers and sisters in Israel and our communities for this Yom Haatzmaut: let us live together, as the points that unite us are way more than the ones dividing us. We are used to singing Am Israel Chai, but now more than ever it is essential to say “Am Israel Chai, BeYachad”: the people of Israel live, together.
This piece was co-authored by Luca Clementi: Born and raised in Rome. Luca Clementi is a journalist. Editor-in-Chief of HaTikwa, UGEI – Italian Jewish Students and Young Professionals media outlet, in 2020, now he manages as Responsible Director, together with the Editorial Director Luca Spizzichino, the newspaper. From 2022 he is also the UGEI Policy Officer.
This blog has been submitted as part of a wider campaign, which is being run by the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) entitled “Theodor & I – Zionism and Young European Jews”. Being launched on Yom Haatzmaut, the campaign seeks to start a discussion on Zionism, towards challenging the existing conversation surrounding the concept and ultimately highlighting the plurality of Jewish European identity and Zionism.
The opinions represented in these blogs do not necessarily reflect the position and views of EUJS.