PM: Today marks fulfillment of our dream

A woman covered with an Israeli flag is seen as fireworks go off during the 61st Independence Day celebrations at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Photo: AP

Independence Day celebrations commenced on Tuesday night with the annual torch lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl.

To view dictionary popup window put your cursor on the blue scripture words.
Israel in the Last Days

“And he shall set up an ensign Strongs 5251: nace; from 5264; a flag; also a sail; by implication, a flagstaff; generally a signal; figuratively, a token:—banner, pole, sail, (en-)sign, standard.
Strongs 5264: naw-sas´; a primitive root; to gleam from afar, i.e. to be conspicuous as a signal; or rather perhaps a denominative from 5251 (and identical with 5263, through the idea of a flag as fluttering in the wind); to raise a beacon:—lift up as an ensign.
for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
—Isa 11:12

To view dictionary popup window put your cursor on the blue scripture words.

“And they shall no more be a preyStrongs 957: baz; from 962; plunder:—booty, prey, spoil(-ed). to the heathenStrongs 1471: gowy, go´-ee; rarely (shortened) goy, go´-ee; apparently from the same root as 1465 (in the sense of massing); a foreign nation; hence, a Gentile; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts:—Gentile, heathen, nation, people., neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid.”
— Eze 34:28

In a video address to the ceremony, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the transition from Remembrance Day was “not easy,” but was full of meaning for Israelis.

He said Israel had overcome “huge obstacles” and on Independence Day, Israelis were celebrating “the fulfillment for our common dream.”

The prime minister also sent out a special greeting to Tel Aviv, which is celebrating its 100th year, calling it a “great, universal city, which is a metropolis for millions.”

“But first and foremost,” he said, “Tel Aviv is the first Hebrew city.”

Opening the ceremony, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said, “We have come once again to this hill – on one side the grave of the prophet [of Zionism], on the other the graves of our children – to talk again of the Exodus, to remind ourselves once again from where we came, and where, with the grace of God, with the blood of our children and with the sweat of our brow – we have succeeded in reaching so far.”

He said that those for whom Independence Day was rooted in the Jewish calendar, realize “that for a nation that has continued, for thousands of years, to celebrate annually the Exodus from Egypt, the relevance of festivals and days of celebration are measured not by their clamor, but rather by how well rooted they are within the community, the family and, more than anything, within our hearts.”

Rivlin spoke of the apt juxtaposition of Remembrance Day and Independence Day, calling the former the “purest preparation” for the subsequent joy.

“Our independence festival is so moving, because each one of us feels how the song of praise of the evening breaks through the grief of the day’s remembrance,” he added. “The tears of pride of each one of us, here, on this hill of national memory, and wherever an Israeli heart beats at this special moment, when the flag is raised from half mast, at that moment when we pass from one holy time to the next, from Yizkor, the memorial prayer, to Hallel, the prayer of praise – those tears of pride tell the real story of this day and prove to us how deeply rooted this day is within our hearts.”

The Knesset speaker went on to say that the day’s special narrative was not only the story of 1948, but also the narrative of the 2009 generation, which he said has to continue to pay the price for Israel’s liberty and independence.

“Just recently, we watched with deep emotion those heroic fighters who risked their lives in Operation Cast Lead,” he continued. “We were choked up at the sight of those noble figures that live here among us, here and now in Israel of 2009.”

Rivlin said Independence Day told the “story of normality” that has been built “under totally abnormal conditions,” and the price of a simple, quiet life “for which we have to continue paying, in blood.”

The Knesset speaker said that Israel of 2009, was no less impressive than Israel of 1949.

“It is more democratic, more open, and also more Jewish in both identity and culture; it is more tolerant, far more sophisticated, and a little less demagogic,” he said.” Families now are less often torn apart by arguments over Ihud or Me’uhad [reference to ideological divisions in the Kibbutz Movement], and more often because of the Hapoel, Maccabi or Betar soccer teams, although politics can still stir things up and rightly so.

“Israel of 2009 may be less ideological – but there are more idealists. Their ideology may be less clearly formulated, less intense, but it is more human, more loving, more closely attuned to the hearts of people.”

He said that while most Israelis were less committed to the dogmas and slogans of the past they were no less Zionist or Israeli.

“I believe that this ideological dynamic does not indicate that we are less principled than we were a generation or two ago, it rather proves that we have here, today too, exceptional powers of vitality, of original thought, of thinking outside the box, of creativity that breaks through boundaries,” he said. “I believe that this additional element has been the secret of our existence as a nation for thousands of years now and is also the secret of our survival here in this turbulent land.

“This element – that caused the Zionist revolution to happen and enabled us, against all odds, to establish our state – that everyone regards as a wonder – both those that love us and those that hate us – still remains vibrantly alive here today.”

He went on to commend the Israeli people for not losing hope while appreciating the difficult situation in which they live.

“It is this ability to build, to be built, and to renew, that allows us to look straight at the complex challenges that face us today,” he said. “It is this ability that will allow us to deal with the world economic crisis, and with the tidal wave of employment problems that are right now hurting so many families in Israel. It is this that will also enable us, with God’s help, to deal with both the threats against us and with those who threaten us.

“Independence Day is not merely the event when we count the number of years that have passed since the day the high commissioner rolled up the Union Jack and sailed for home,” Rivlin went on. “Independence Day is recharged each year with new meanings, new values – each generation and its values, each generation and its needs.”

The Knesset speaker then lit the first of 12 beacons and paid tribute to his parents and his ancestor the Vilna Ga’on, as well as to residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and the Gaza border communities, who he called “unwilling heroes for eight years and more, whose spiritual strength and firm stand brings inspiration to the whole nation.”

He also said he was lighting the beacon in honor of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and said Israel never forgets “that the narrative of Independence Day is also the narrative of the oath of loyalty between the State and its soldiers.”

Rivlin ended by hailing “the pioneers of Gush Katif,” who he said were seeking a healing for their wounds and “teaching us all, again, a poignant chapter in the history of Zionism.”

Copyright © In The Days