One of my earliest memories of kindergarten is holding an Israeli Flag and leading my class, at an assembly of grade school classes, in singing “degel, degel, degel tov. Degel tov sheli. Ata degli. Ata degli. Ata degli. Degli.” “Good flag. You are my flag. My flag.”
We didn’t sing Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, yet…that came later as we advanced classes…..but this little song was powerful. We all stood at attention. Serious. It was our flag. My flag.
I Carried It As An IDF Soldier
And, that flag figured prominently in my life. I carried it at the head of our school delegation as we marched up Riverside Drive in NY at the first Israel Day Parade….I hid it under my shirt and revealed it as we operationalized the first ever protest sit-in inside the UN Headquarters in NY protesting the UN’s lack of response to the tragic Maalot massacre…..I carried it, in a most emotional moment, as an IDF soldier when I was part of the honor guard at a ceremony in Yad V’Shem for a non-Jew being inducted into the rare stratosphere of the “Righteous of the Nations” and I marched behind it, into the main stadium in Abu Dhabi…years before the Abraham Accords… when I accompanied the Israeli Delegation to The Special Olympics, proudly entering the stadium to cheers as they sang “Havenu Shalom Aleichem” …”We come to greet you in Peace”.
Yet…one of the most powerful moments that I have ever had with “My Flag”, our flag, was and is seeing it prominently displayed and proudly carried by the demonstrators who, all over the world, are protesting many of the policies of the current Government of Israel.
Malcontents? True Patriots!
Despite the rhetoric that somehow this group of malcontents represent nothing more than failed and bitter left wing agitators and traitors… it is clear that with every passing day the protest movement grows in size and scope and the crowd is a true representation of Israel’s citizenry including secular and observant; immigrant and born; Ashkenazi and Sephardi and everything in between.
Generals; Veterans; Business Leaders and a Prime Minister
Just as importantly it includes former Prime Ministers, generals and heads of security; army veterans; politicians; business leaders and on and on. Bottom line this is not some fringe group to be dismissed or a minority viciously rampaging ignoring the laws of our country….and the ethics of our heritage. Not to mention calling to mind the kind of abhorrent evil that we as a people suffered at the hands of our oppressors.
I recently wrote about Unconditional Love and how important it is that we remember that our love for Israel be unconditional. But I also made clear that the price of Unconditional Love is accountability for the subject at hand.
Don’t Put It Down….
As a teen I managed to see the play Hair when it was still deemed not just provocative, but perverse because of the nude scene and Anti-American because of its themes. One of the important songs was “Don’t put it down” a song with a message, about the US flag, to both protesters and their protagonists that said: “Don’t put it down, Best one around…crazy for the red, white and blue…”. Hold unto it and don’t demean it.
Don’t Let It Be Desecrated
I am deeply and emotionally proud that my flag…our flag is the centerpiece of all the demonstrations. Clearly we aren’t putting it down. However, I do believe that the flag, our flag, my flag, is being desecrated by criminals….haters and some who don’t even recognize it’s very existence.
Politics are politics. You have yours and I have mine. Despite our differences it is our flag. Yours and mine. You don’t own it because you think you do and you can’t take it from me because you think you can.
We all need to agree that a small minority is desecrating our flag. Don’t let them.
DEGEL TOV SHELI….ATA DEGLI. DEGLI