View From Netanya

ELKAN’S VIEW 21st April 2015

I am writing this on the afternoon of Wednesday 21st April, Yom Hazikaron, the day of national memorial for the 23,320 Israeli soldiers who have fallen in the defence of the state. Last night at 8 PM, as happens every year on Yom Hazikaron, the siren sounded throughout Israel and the whole country came to a halt. That was repeated again at 11 o’clock this morning and like many people I was thinking of those for whom the siren commemorated for the first time the son or brother or husband or fiancé who fell in Operation Protective Edge last summer.

The mood changes this evening, and as in Jewish communities throughout the world mourning gives way to joy. We have paid a very high price for our state and we continue to pay it. Like so many others I hope that my grandchildren don’t have to go to war to protect their freedoms but in an increasingly uncertain and unstable Middle East that is probably too much to hope for.

But what an amazing state we have produced! A world leader in so many things that require intelligence. Every time you pick up your computer, or avoid traffic using an app on your smartphone, or benefit from a range of amazing medical advances, you are benefiting from products of the State of Israel.

And it has some other unique features. Israel is the only place where more women fly F-16s then drive cars in Saudi Arabia, where army reservists are commanded by officers younger than their own children, where an entire country comes to a halt to mourn those it has lost, where there is a remarkable diversity of Jewish dress behaviour and practice, where Arabs are allowed to vote in a democratic election. It was David Ben Gurion who said “in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles”.This is something that we all experience here on a daily basis.

And long may it continue thus. Israel is really “Reshit tzemichat geulateynu – the first flowering of our redemption”. I am proud every day to be part of it.