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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Proud to be a Zionist (5766 edition)

I wrote an essay a few years ago that I posted here last year called "Proud to be a Zionist." For this Yom Ha'Atzmaut, I thought it is time to update it.

In prayers every morning Jews say a phrase praising G-d, describing Him as המחדש בכל יום תמיד מעשה בראשית - He who continually renews the act of Creation. In other words, the Jewish concept of G-d has him in an active role keeping the universe running, and as such it is appropriate to praise Him.

It is a little hard to conceptualize this idea, that the very laws of physics, of the world turning and revolving around the sun is not automatic, but only occurs due to the constant will of G-d. But perhaps it is easier to understand this phrase if we apply it to the modern state of Israel.

Every single day that the Jewish state continues to exist cannot be explained adequately with historical or social or military reasons. Which means that we are witnessing a miracle every day.

This was a hard year for Zionists. It was an especially hard year for religious Zionists. Yet when we step back and look at the big picture, Israel remains something to be very proud of.

Yes, I am a Zionist and I am proud of it.

I know that Israel has the absolute right to exist in peace and security, just like any other country.

I am proud of how the IDF is conducting itself during the current war on Palestinian terror. There is no other country on the planet, save the US, that would try to minimize civilian casualties in such a situation where innocent Israelis are being threatened and murdered in cold blood. We may argue whether the IDF's moral standards end up being counterproductive, but what other army could one even have this discussion about?

I am proud of how the IDF is performing doing the most difficult type of battle, that of looking house to house for terrorists, while maintaining amazing professionalism under fire and minimizing its own casualties. I defy anyone to find any other nation who has performed as well -- and as ethically -- as Israel has done during the current conflict.

I am proud that Israel remains a true democracy, with a free press and vigorous opposition parties, while in a constant war situation. Any other nation, again besides the US, would have imposed martial law to maintain peace.

I am proud of how Israeli citizens are going through their day to day lives, even while knowing that a despicable terrorist can still make it in to their hometowns.

I am proud of how many terror attacks have been thwarted by the Israeli police and citizens, and how many lives have been saved. For every "successful" attack (if you can use such a term) there have been many failed attempts, and these are truly miraculous.

I am proud that Israel will investigate any mistakes that happen on the battlefield and keep trying to improve its methods to maximize damage to the terrorists while minimizing damage to the Palestinian people. And over the years of the "intifada" we can see that the number of civilians killed accidentally by Israel has gone down dramatically. I challenge anyone to find an example of a country that was as restrained under these circumstances as Israel has been.

I am proud that Israel takes steps to stop vigilante actions from its own citizens living in impossible conditions.

And, of course, I am proud of Israel's many accomplishments in building up a desert wasteland into a thriving and vibrant modern country, with its many scientific achievements, world class universities and culture. In a short period of time Israel made itself into a strong yet open nation that its neighbors can only dream of becoming.

I am proud that the vast majority of Americans support Israel as I do, and that the rabid terror-lovers we see on the Internet are the aberration.

Right after the Jewish prayer phrase I quoted above is this one: מה רבו מעשיך ה , "How great are Your works, O G-d." It is easy to find faults but in the big picture, the accomplishments are remarkable and need to be highlighted.

There is a right and a wrong in this conflict, and I am proud that Israel is in the right.