As we approach the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel’s reestablishment, there will be much reflection on the national rebirth of the Jewish people.
This, the third Jewish commonwealth, as with the previous two, is on the very same piece of land that Jews have called ‘home’ for millennia.
The Jewish people have a lot to celebrate and to be thankful for, whilst being aware that there are internal challenges and external dangers, conflicting emotions that will influence the way in which we mark the 75th.
The Passover holiday was marred by continuing murderous terrorist attacks on Israelis and simultaneously, an offensive ring of rockets that stretched from Syria across to Lebanon and southward to Gaza.
This new-in-scope and coordinated terrorism, once again aimed not at Israel’s military, but directly at its civilians, had Iran’s fingerprints all over it.
It has long been the belief of Israel’s enemies’, that Israel’s citizens would be able to be intimidated, their resilience undermined and scared into leaving for greener pastures.
In other words, they aim not so much to defeat Israeli militarily, but to psychologically defeat Israel’s civilian population, by breaking the spirit of the people.
Did the internal disunity mislead Israel’s enemies into believing that this was an opportunity to test Israel’s resolve?
We do not know, but what we can observe is that when we remove politics from the equation, the responses from recent successive Israeli government to the rockets, whether last year led by Bennett and then Lapid, or the current government, are similarly restrained.
The political leaders, apparently choosing to follow the advice of the various security services, including the IDF, police and intelligence organisations.
According to reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned during a security cabinet meeting earlier this month, against Israel “being dragged into wider-scale conflicts on multiple fronts.”
Netanyahu’s main opposition comes internally from within his own government, who criticise Israel’s military response as being inadequate. They worry that the wrong message is being sent by Israel’s restraint.
In addition, this government, just as the previous one, barred Jews from going onto the Temple Mount for the last 10 days of Ramadan, in an attempt to restore calm.
Last year National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir harshly criticised a similar decision by then Prime Minister Bennett in the following words: “To close the Temple Mount to Jews until the end of Ramadan is a foolish security and diplomatic decision that serves as de-facto admission to the Arab lie as if the Jews are responsible for the current deterioration.”
Ben Gvir, for whom Jewish access to the Temple Mount is a signature policy, whilst calling Netanyahu’s decision a mistake, concluded that this was not yet a trigger for him to leave the government.
Smotrich from the Religious Zionist Party, was silent on the matter.
These are signs that Netanyahu and the now more popular than ever restored Defence Minister Gallant, are calling the shots.
Another demonstration of where the seat of power within the government currently sits, was the largely symbolic march by some 50,000 people to Evyatar, an unauthorised outpost, first established in 2013 after Evyatar Borovsky was stabbed and then shot to death by a terrorist at Tapuah Junction.
The marchers were demanding that the government, that is the government they voted into office, recognise and legalise Evyatar. Amongst them were 20 government MK’s (almost a third of the total coalition members of the Knesset), as well as eight ministers.
Despite this, it is highly unlikely that Netanyahu or Gallant will change the status of Evyatar anytime soon.
Perhaps yet another but more personal sign that Netanyahu is attempting to both take control and tone down the rhetoric, is that his son Yair who regularly tweets very strongly against perceived opponents of his father, has been silent on Twitter since 28 March, according to press reports.
This is the day after Netanyahu announced a pause in progressing the legislation around judicial reform and a readiness to engage in dialogue with the opposition parties.
There are many aspects one can discuss about the anti-judicial reform demonstrations and the precedents they possibly set, however one thing is crystal clear, although they are anti-government, they are pro-Israel.
Whether one agrees with them or not, they show that patriotism is alive and well and not only in the pro-reform camp, but on all sides.
This is perhaps the greatest positive to have emerged from this internal division, that the overwhelming majority of people care deeply about the future of Israel, whatever their view on judicial reform.
A large amount of the damage occurs however, in the way patriots discuss their various points of difference and the interests of each of Israel’s tribes, to each be able to maintain their lifestyle choices and values, but as part of the whole.
Rabbi Leo Dee in his heart wrenchingly delivered call to unity at the funeral of his two daughters Rina and Maia, expressed beautifully the real situation of Israel at 75.
“Let the Israeli flag today send out a message to humanity which is: We will never accept terror as legitimate. We will never blame the murder on the victims. There is no such thing as moral equivalence between terrorist and victim.
Today the Jewish People have proven that we are one. When a family in Efrat hurts, we all hurt. There is no clearer proof of our unity.
We have been marching through the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv with Israeli flags arguing over whether there should be a majority of 61, 65, 70, an override clause or no override clause, in the Supreme Court.
Let’s be honest, most of us have no idea what any of this means…….on Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, we will be once again marching side by side, all of us carrying our Israeli flags. Left wing next to right wing, religious next to secular, uniting against the real threat, the threat of pure evil, the threat of a mad ideologically driven terrorism funded by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah,….. who doesn’t care if you are from Efrat or Tel Aviv, London or Italy.
We will all march as one.
Am Yisrael Chai”
Indeed at 75 years, the people of Israel live.
The Jewish renaissance is taking place before our very eyes.
That is a true cause for celebration.
Am Yisrael Chai!
Dr Ron Weiser AM