I just stood for the two minute silence for Yom HaZikaron, in my office, watching the traffic stop, and wondering what it is I should be thinking about. Around this time of year I guess I should be reflecting how I feel about myself as an Israeli, how I feel about this society I live in of upside down, back to front, topsy turvey and totally "Hafuch".
I started thinking about the end of a BBC programme I caught the other day, where the presenter (a pompous 50 something English guy – god I love them!) was in America trying to disperse the preconceptions most of the world has about America and Americans. You know the score; being stupid, arrogant, self inflated, stupid, fat, stupid. On a personal level I know many Americans who when asked to rate the Anglos (British, South African, Australian, and American) from best to worst, will place themselves at the bottom of the pack… this is as long as we leave Canada out of it. Anyway, I only managed to catch the end of the programme, which was a shame because it looked pretty entertaining. Regardless, the presenter compared the States to a stropy Teenager, throwing himself around the shop, with no fear, and no consideration for the repercussions of his actions, unlike his older, more experienced and therefore wary relatives across the pond. The presenter went on to state that it is precisely this behaviour that although highly annoying and tiresome to the more mature nations among this teenager, is what also makes America in a way endearing… plus we all live in hope that she will grow up soon enough.
So in following this theory, if Europe is the elder, the US is the young adult, then Israel is the troublesome toddler. She is still into stealing her mother’s makeup, making mud pies, standing on her head for hours on end until she gets the chocolate bar, and yes playing war with the kids down the street. She pulls on the coat tails of her elders when they do not give her the attention she requires, she stomps her feet and throws her toys out of her play pen when she does not get her way. She switched moods so quickly, one minute sobbing her heart out because she was not allowed choco for breakfast and then giggling uncontrollably as she discovers a butterfly in the garden.
Last night I attended a memorial for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel to commemorate Yom HaZikaron. All the time I sat there, looking at the pictures of the town’s lost sons and daughters, seeing their names on the stone memorial wall, I heard the sound of children giggling during Yizkor, and despite the sombre occasion, it made me smile. These children will help see Israel into her teens and onwards to adulthood and what do we teach these young children? We teach them the importance of an entire community standing together to remember those who died defending our home. Many countries have memorial days; however these are mainly an excuse for a day off work and a barbeque. I remember being in Brent Cross in London the day after the July bombings and I was the only person in Monsoon who stood still for the minute silence! Unlike the rest of the world, Israel, the teething tot who usually cannot stand still long enough for a small queue, stands in unison and pauses to commemorate her people, her heritage, and her losses. We teach the children of Israel that today, we sit and remember those who fought and died for this beautiful country of ours, and tomorrow, well tomorrow we honour them further by celebrating the fact that we still have this country… Yom Haatzmaut!
Whatever you are doing to celebrate Israel’s 58th birthday, in Israel or abroad, be well, be safe and remember there is a time to mourn, and a time to dance, so please for the love of Israel, dance your asses off!!!