This Monday from 20:00 in Israel the siren will sound for one minute to remember those who have fallen at the hands of those who still vow to destroy Israel and to begin Yom Hazikaron. However, Tuesday evening will also see the beginning of Yom Haatzmaut, where the Israeli people will celebrate their belonging and history 75 years after a historic feat: the triumph against the Arab armies who went on a war of extermination. The calendar is also an example of the Jewish people’s overcoming and historical achievement: living with memory, but seeking prosperity and peace for the future.
Also for those of us who are not Jewish, but are interested in international affairs, the deed of 1948 is not just another event in modern history: it is one of the most important, most talked about, but most misunderstood and distorted historical events, because it is the source of many of the false accusations that continue to be levelled against Israel today.
There is a very dangerous alliance between many of the international organisations and Islamism that not only distances the peaceful resolution of conflicts, but can also, even unwittingly, be responsible for the repetition of history.
It is no coincidence that with every date of homage and remembrance in Israeli historiography, Palestinian Arab violent bravado seeks to superimpose its own ephemeris. In recent days, an emblematic date such as the remembrance of and homage to the victims of the Shoah was once again superimposed by the Palestinian activist calendar calling for the release of their prisoners. Incidentally, as so often, they neglect to mention that these prisoners are often wanted or trapped by the Palestinian Authority itself and face charges of murder or terrorism against Israeli civilians.
In the absence of a history of their own, it is imperative to usurp and modify the history of those they perceive as their enemy.
In 75 years Israel has realised that its deeds are understood in secret, but reviled in public, especially at a time when Islamism is gaining increasing influence in European capitals and where social media has become that unfiltered stage where Palestinian Arab activism openly merges with the remnants of Nazism and anti-Semitism to create a perfect storm.
Personally, I have always found it amazing how the fatalistic discourse of the Palestinians only penetrated Western ears and was strongly relativised if not ignored in the East.
In 75 years, Israel has shown that democratic, peaceful and pluralistic coexistence is possible in a region where intolerance, persecution and harassment have been the constants for many centuries. However, Israel’s building bridges to dialogue with its enemies and seeking prosperity will never mean that the country stands still in the face of direct threats and aggression from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria or Iran.
More and better information, thanks to technological developments, makes it possible to know (or resign oneself to knowing) that there is also an Israeli version that is far from the classic discourses that are often installed without any historical, political or data-based roots. The clarification of Israel’s foreign policy over the years has done, and continues to do, a formidable job in dismantling many of the lies that claim to be true and that provoke a historical rupture.
In 75 years Israel has demonstrated a political maturity, rooted in the lessons and histories of the Jewish people, to sit at the table and talk with those who seven and a half decades ago looked into the eyes of the newborn state proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion and vowed its annihilation. Israel has achieved peacemaking with Egypt and Jordan and promising normalisation with Gulf countries and others outside the region in the framework of the Abraham Accords. Today, despite the hostilities, there is also a Middle East that is preparing to combine Israeli and Arab technology to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In the coming months we are likely to see this normalisation reach Muslim-majority countries in the face of the incredulous eyes of those who today continue to analyse the Middle East as if the years have not passed.
In its 75 years it has also consolidated its very particular and special attribute: that of respect for diversity, freedom of worship and tolerance. Today, 23% of Muslim Arabs and non-Jewish communities live in Israel and find in the country the refuge they cannot find in Iraq, where they could be annihilated by the Islamic State; in Syria, where they could suffer the same fate as the more than 400,000 Sunnis in the hands of the Shiites; or in the territories under Palestinian control, where Christian communities are today heavily persecuted and expelled. Israel is a refuge for minorities in the Middle East.
Not without difficulty, in 1948 the rebirth of the State of Israel was the new beginning of that belonging which Israelis will celebrate these days. For many more years to come, strengthening all the pillars that have been built in 75 years.
Yom Haatzmaut Sameaj. Am Israel jai.