I admit that I put pen to paper - actually, finger to
keyboard - for this, my first monthly message on our website, heavily under the
influence of Holocaust Remembrance Day and with a view to two other significant
commemoration days in our lives as Israelis this coming week: Memorial and
Unless you are in Israel for this remarkable period, it is
almost impossible to grasp the emotional intensity of what amounts to a
week-long immersion in collective bereavement, at the end of which we are
permitted to celebrate the independence we achieved after near annihilation
through 2000 years of exile, the murder of 6 million Jews in Europe and then
the loss of 1% of our fledgling state in the War of Independence.
Kitsch? Not for me, and not for the vast majority of
Israel's citizenry and our friends throughout the world. For hard as some may
try to put the past behind and move on, it's not that simple. This is
especially true in Israel, where everyone - no matter what age, ethnic,
religious or socio-economic group - is exposed to the personal stories, the
atmosphere, and of course the sirens.
Against this background, it is only natural that Israel
would exercise responsibility in its strategic and foreign policy decisions. It
makes total sense to refuse to engage with those who seek our destruction, to
sound the warning bells lest others are tempted to do so.
Not everyone accepts the prudence of decision-making from a
long-term historical perspective. Some would prefer a narrower time frame for
the resolution of our geo-strategic challenges, frowning on Israel's insistence
on caution in the face of potentially life-changing threats to our security.
For better or for worse, we have neither the luxury nor the room to maneuver to
At the end of the day, Israel is neither "just" a
state that arose out of the ashes of the Holocaust, nor is it "just"
a start-up nation. It is a combination of both. Neither of these components of
our state's character can be addressed without the other; in our national
narrative, there can be no revival without the preceding tragedy, no start-up
nation without the Holocaust and vice-versa.
The challenge, of course, is to convey this to those who are
not fully cognizant of the connection - particularly the younger generation,
for many of which the relevant historical events are no more than stories in a
textbook. Indeed, it is no small feat to fit all this weighty material into a
Since my arrival here in Boston in early February, I have
made a special effort to discern to what extent the Israel I know is projected
outward. The Israel I know is one that has many more positives than negatives,
perhaps our greatest positive being the tireless effort - in the corridors of power,
the media and the public at large - to make our society and the world better, a
genuine and constant tikkun olam.
This Independence Day, Israel will be celebrating the
achievements of our women. The honorees chosen to represent this theme include
women from the fields of business, education, politics, the media, sports, and
diplomacy. They also represent the spectrum of Israel's multicultural mosaic:
Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Jew, Moslem, secular, ultra-orthodox. Israel has worked
hard in the area of gender equality, and has much to celebrate.
In this context I would like to offer my personal
congratulations to several dear colleagues. Belaynesh Zevadia, Israel's first
Jewish Ethiopian Ambassador serving in Addis Ababa, who will be lighting the
traditional Independence Day torch together with 13 other honorees. The
leadership of our Consul, Ronit Nudelman-Perl, over the last four years has
also been a shining example of the empowerment of women in Israeli diplomacy.
As we celebrate our Independence next week, it is my
profound hope to encourage and enhance positive identification with Israel as a
state dear to our hearts and of which we can be proud. We're not perfect by any
means - nobody claimed otherwise - but on the other hand we are not just a wagon
with broken wheels. Israel is at the top of its class in working tirelessly for
self-improvement and world improvement, and that in itself is a source of
tremendous pride as we celebrate 66 years in the family of nations.
More by the Consul General:
As You Were Saying... Israel's role key to Mideast stability - Published in The Boston Herald, May 4, 2014
Like Israelis, Bostonians show resilence amid pain - Published in The Boston Globe, April 18, 2014.