Happy Israel Independence Day! by Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Here is my Facebook Status Update:
Wishing Israel a happy 64th! I pray that one day the entire world – and the Palestinian people as well – will celebrate with us this great moment in history, when a nation was reborn and millions returned to a safe homeland. Israel is a such a blessing to the world and its neighbors – and even to the Palestinians! – and one day everyone will find a way of living in peace with that blessing rather than trying to fight it! Grateful to all who fought for Israel, gave their lives for the Jewish state, and who tragically were killed in acts of violence against our State. Israel comes in peace to all mankind, and is willing to do so much for peace. There are some exciting new models for that peace – surprisingly advanced by the Right in Israeli politics – and I am confident that if we begin to think outside the box, all will benefit – including the Palestinian people. Please world, learn to love this beautiful country, and may year 65 be one of peace and security for this precious land, for the Homeland of the Jewish People, and for the entire world.
I think most people reading this blog will agree with that greeting.
Here is something a bit more controversial, but I hope it is food for thought and provokes some good Yom Ha’atzma’ut conversation.  It is from a letter I wrote to John Sakakini, who is the Program Coordinator for the General Delegation of the PLO to the United States.  I do not have favorable views of the PLO, but John personally was very nice when I met him, and he is my best link to Prime Minister Fayyad – whom the PLO doesn’t really like.  So for now, I am trying to connect with Salam Fayyad via John.  I will certainly update folks if anything comes of this, and specifically if I can find out any information about the student textbooks that are still viciously anti-Semitic.  For the complete letter, well, contact John Sakakini.
“Dear John,

On this day of Israel Independence, I just wanted to ask you to send a message to our Palestinian brothers and sisters:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Jews, Muslims and Christians, Israelis and Palestinians:

As the Jewish people celebrates Yom Ha’atzmaut, 64 years to the establishment of an independent Jewish state, we need to remember that our moral right to return to sovereignty in our homeland came at the expense of many of the local Arabs living in the area…How I wish the State of Israel could have started with the blessings of her Arab neighbors! With the appreciation of how a Jewish national presence in the midst of Dar Al-Islam could contribute greatly to Arabs a Jews alike.  However, it is time to look forward: Time at accept that Palestinian national aspirations and Jewish national aspirations can come together in harmony and partnership.  Frankly, I think the Jews and Palestinians are linked in a common destiny, and rather than fighting each other, we have to look out for each other and help each other achieve our goals.  We deeply love the same land, we yearn the same freedoms and we are both clever and sophisticated.  I pray to God that on this day of celebrating Israel’s independence, Jews and Palestinians can recommit themselves to working together to help each other achieve statehood – even if that means in the same place, on the same land.  Our goals are not mutually exclusive.  No!  Our goals are complementary and can strengthen each other – the is room for everyone … Hand in hand let us walk together in history… to a day when both our peoples can celebrate together and can inspire the world towards peace and accommodating the dreams of national fulfillment that we all have…”

Feel free to beat me up – verbally, that is – and give me musar, but remember today is a day of celebration and joy: we said Hallel in my shul – with a brachia – and not tachanun.  So let’s celebrate together having a State that allows the Jewish people to continue on, to be a light onto the nations.
Moadim l’simcha l’geula shleima – Times of Happiness, yearning for  full redemption, 
Rabbi Asher Lopatin

5 Responses to Happy Israel Independence Day! by Rabbi Asher Lopatin

  1. Nancy Kaplan says:

    kol ha kavod for a wonderful message on this very special day – I am sharing with friends and family

  2. Isn’t it hypocritical to wish Israel well when you’ve written on more than one occasion that you are in favour of dissolving it and replacing it with a binational state that will shortly after become majority Arab?

    > we need to remember that our moral right to return to sovereignty in our homeland came at the expense of many of the local Arabs living in the area…

    Why don’t you also just state that Israel deliberately drove the Arabs off their so-called ancestral lands and raped their women and killed their children while you’re at it?

    Our moral right to return to sovereignty in our homeland is based on the Torah. The only reason any Arabs suffered is because of their choices. Their subsequent decision to revise history and blame us for their idiocy is not our fault.

    Why you are so desperate to maintain dialogue with people who happily announce in Arabic that they are in favour of the destruction of Israel in as messy as fashion as possible mystifies me.

    • Asher Lopatin says:


      As as Zionist, I am committed to Israel as a Jewish State and the Jewish Homeland for all Jews, all over the world. Whatever arrangement is made for the future, whether it means annexing Judah and Samaria and giving all residents – Jews and Arabs – the vote, as Carlyn Glick and many other on the Right advocate – or whether that means a Two State Solution – which I deeply oppose – or some other confederation or federation, we all believe in the importance of the Jewish State and need to do whatever we can to strengthen it. I hope all my efforts are leading in that direction. All we disagree about is how to secure the Jewish State best. I am surprised that you seem unaware of the important demographic work done by Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, showing how the Jewish birth rate is increasing – through the increased birth rate of secular Israelis! – and the Arab birth rate is rapidly declining. There is no demographic time bomb. I would go so far as to describe this worship of the demographic threat as the Avoda Zara of the Left the Two Staters. It took a long time for Avraham to break the world away from Avoda Zara, and apparently, even in Right wing circles this Avoda Zara worshipping the doomsday demographic predictions is still in full force.

      In any case, let’s disagree about how to secure Israel, but let’s not question each other’s commitment to the Jewish state.

      Rabbi Asher Lopatin

  3. Rabbi Lopatin, I do not believe I mentioned any demographic time bomb. When it comes to citizens, Israel’s proportions of Jews vs non-Jews has stayed remarkably stable over the last 30 years, despite importing tens of thousands of non-Jewish Russians. The population danger to Israel comes from outside: the first election in any “confederation” would certainly result in a large Arab representation in the parliament which would then approve unrestricted immigration to the millions of so-called Palestinians languishing in refugee camps throughout the region. Are an equivalent number of American and European Jews going to move to Israel to compensate? It’s doubtful.
    The problem is that in America, everything has a solution. What makes America great is that two people sit down and hash out an agreement no matter how big the problem. As a result, Americans believe everybody is reasonable like they are and that every problem can ultimately be solved.
    Israel is surrounded by people who want to see it destroyed as soon as possible. You recently had lunch with several of them. They don’t want a confederation, they don’t want a Jewish minority state, they don’t want economic benefits, they want the Jews gone, period. The only solution is for Israel to hunker down, put its own interests first and stop wasting time on pipe dreams.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A tangential point, but how does it make sense to say hallel with a bracha on the 4th of Iyyar? If the נס that occurred on ה’ אייר itself obligates one to say hallel w/o a special תקנה, then the חיוב is tied to that day. If there is no obligation w/o a special תקנה, how can you say a ברכה?

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