Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 12th: Israel Independance Day in the Low Country

This week we shall celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut-Israel’s 63rd birthday. I now know for sure Israel has made it in the world when as I was paging through a new flute instruction book I came upon a brief piece of music entitled “Israel melody.” I was curious so as I sight read it I started to play the piece and it was, low and behold, the music for HaTikvah-the hope-Israel’s national anthem!
What a wonderful way to begin a practice session. The point is that there is so much that is amazing and beautiful about Israel that is ignored because the world’s focus on Israel is always about Middle East peace. Of course that is critical and it deserves our attention.  But what American Jews, Israelis who live in America and Israelis too need to remember and do is to share the beauty of Israel’s culture around our country and the world.
We have always surprised the world with what we could do in the sciences and the cultural arts. Even the Sacramento Kings basketball team (they got a one year respite to remain in Sacramento-whew!) has an Israeli player on the team! Israel wins a gold medal for wind sailing in the most recent summer Olympics. The awards and the achievements are too numerous to mention here but it would do us well to remember that in anticipation of our community’s observance on Thursday May 12th, the focus is a celebration and we need every Jew in the low country to attend. There are many who are from other faiths inside our community and who love Israel as well. We need everyone!
The biggest problem that we American Jews need to address is how Israel’s adversaries continue to demonize it and paint Israel in the most unflattering way. They do it over and over whether through the internet, the newspapers, the U.N. and many other media outlets. It is a propaganda war and American Jews can make a difference by coming out and saying “I am proud of Israel.”
And we do need the support of the Christian community in America. Liberal Jews need to rethink how we can strengthen Israel’s place in the culture of America. I think the recent spectacular and successful Navy Seals operation to take out Osama Bin Laden will reaffirm that America and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder when it comes to facing the common enemy of extremist Islamic terrorism. But we have to go deeper by exploring new relationships with religious institutions that may not share all our viewpoints on domestic issues but who identify with us when it comes to Israel’s survival and its value as a legitimate Jewish nation.  As long as churches know that converting Jews is off limits then we can work together.
In other words if we are comfortable in our own skin then we should not be afraid to let others into our tent who have honorable intentions and who respect Israel. Their reasons for doing so may be theological and not coincide with Jewish belief but we can work around it. It is something we should explore in the future.
Israel has so much to offer the world. Sixty three years has proven how prolific Jewish culture is as a force for good. Christians and adherents of religions from all over the world can drink from our wells and learn from us as we have done from them over the millennium. All we ever wanted was the chance to prove ourselves and from my viewpoint Israel, with all its challenges, is doing the job well. It may be tumultuous and it may be controversial and it may be dramatic, but, in the end Israel is a miracle and that is what Israel Independence Day celebrates.

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