Just recently, Israel, along with Jews in the Diaspora, marked its 75th year of sovereignty, an impressive achievement considering that even today, the antisemitic impulse of the UN, the EU, the Democrat party of the U.S all attempt tirelessly to divide the irrefutable Jewish capital, and continue to pretend that the PA, a terrorist group that stole 2/3rds of Judea & Samaria with the eager help of the U.S, is a ‘moderate’ peace partner.
Whatever issues impacting full sovereignty are still at hand, one cannot compare to the state Israel was in under non-Jewish occupation prior to 1948. The worst of which, in more modern history, was under the tyrannical boot of the British, who were hell-bent on aiding the Arabs from all angles – from provoking every Arab pogrom and helping arm Arabs, to then training Arab armies against Israel during the 1947-1949 War of Independence. Jews gave their lives for Israel to be free, and so hearing in person, and seeing online, too many Jews express that Israel is celebrating its ‘birthday’ and not using the accurate word, ‘independence’ is not doing justice to history.
Independence is achieved through different methods by various countries. Jordan became independent in 1946 with nary a fight from Britain, just a two year-long negotiation; prior to that, Britain simply created Jordan by stealing 78% of the Jewish homeland as earmarked at the San Remo Conference in 1920. By 1922, a loophole, Article 25, was used to renege on the original agreement. Yet, there were countries, aside from Israel that truly fought for independence from the British – most famously the United States and India.
The U.S was indeed birthed in 1776, after achieving independence. India bravely pushed out the British. But why is that when Indian independence is mentioned in the media and by Indians, proper semantics is utilized, but for Israel, too many reduce the Jewish fight for freedom by failing to mention ‘independence.’
Prior to 1776, American colonies were a ragtag consortium of colonialists from different parts of Europe. There was the French followed by the Spanish in Florida. Then there were Basque, English, and French fishing fleets from Maine to Cape Cod. Puritans who settled in New England, the Dutch who settled in New York and around the Mid-Atlantic, and the English who established a colony in Jamestown, VA.
Keep in mind, too, that many of the settlers who settled in America arrived via different trading companies sponsored by the Dutch, English, French, and Spanish.
Now, contrast that to Israel. From a historical perspective, Jews became a nation when Semitic tribes came together to create monotheism. From a faith-based angle, when Semitic tribes came together to accept monotheism. Jews are from the land. Jews did not ‘come’ from anywhere. Jews are not from Egypt or Iraq or anywhere else. Jewish DNA is firmly rooted in Israel and has been proven by genetic studies.
Jews, over thousands of years, developed a deep culture including mores and customs. When each of the Exiles occurred, Jews still remained, even post the final Roman exile, even after the Romans renamed Judea to Syria-Palestina. Many of the Priestly class fled to Peki’in in the North of Israel, and lived as farmers for nearly 2,000 years until being driven out by Muslim antisemitism in the 1930s; they were joined by other incoming Jews from other parts of Israel, and from returning Jews of the Diaspora. There were Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Haifa, Hebron, and Safed.
Since Roman times, Israel has been under numerous occupations, with the last being the British occupation, and aside from the Crusaders, it was the most antisemitic.
It was not the ‘Independence Day War’ that made Israel free. That war should be called the war of survival. Rather, the Jewish homeland earned its independence after a hard fought, near 20 year brutal onslaught from the British – who eagerly armed Arabs while restricting Jews from having weapons, sent boatloads of Jews back to the horrors of Europe and beyond, established detention camps not just in Israel – the most infamous of which was Atlit, but also on Cyprus, exiled numerous Jewish resistance fighters to eastern Africa, and brutally targeted Jewish resistance groups.
Therefore, to say it is Israel’s 75th ‘birthday’ is not only incorrect, it is actually antisemitic as it denotes that nothing was in the land of Israel prior to 1948, and that is what antisemites say, exactly. That phrase is incorrect because there was a rich Jewish history in every era, under every occupation. Also, let’s thank Sephardic Jews for ‘holding down the fort’ for hundreds of years, joined by Jews who never left, and the trickling in of various Aliyahs, the ones from Mizrahi lands actually began in small numbers, well before the Ashkenazim came home in great numbers.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut marks the freedom of Israel, the sovereignty of Israel, and not its birthday. Its birthday, as a Jewish-oriented nation, occurred thousands of years ago. It may seem easy to say ‘birthday’ but semantics do matter. For next Independence Day, let’s not diminish a great Jewish feat, and truthfully describe the occasion as what it is – a celebration of independence.