Monday, May 21

Submission: Israel Independence Week is a celebration of survivors

How does one small country generate so much controversy and news? It is amazing that as a country smaller than the size of New Jersey, Israel makes front-page headlines almost every day and is seemingly always a point of serious contention on this campus. This week marks the 68th anniversary of the independence and creation of the State of Israel. While the celebration of this event may invoke anger and hostility in some, it will provide joy and a sense of pride in others.

This piece is therefore apolitical, striving not to create controversy, but rather a plea for respect and appreciation for this celebration. Israel in itself is a triumph of the human will against all odds. The Jewish people, after enduring the worst genocide in modern human history, regrouped and fought to re-establish a homeland in their biblical land. This is a group of people that three years prior to independence was being systematically murdered and displaced by the Nazis. Israel is also a place where innovation and progress are encouraged and constantly achieved. This is a country that has more high-tech start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country in the world. It is a country which houses the biggest pride parade in continental Asia, drawing more than 100,000 people each year.

Israel, however, is not a country without problems and issues. This is a country in which the poverty rate is 21 percent higher than countries such as Mexico, Turkey and Chile. Israel also faces daily existential questions in regards to the Palestinians and its identity as a progressive, democratic state. While Israel attempts to maintain its democratic ideals, it is also faced with its current position as an occupying force in Gaza and the West Bank. This occupation creates more questions than it answers, yet must be looked at objectively from both sides to understand its benefits and drawbacks.

Bruins for Israel’s Israel Independence Week is not a celebration of the current Israeli government or its policies. Rather, it is a celebration of a true man-made miracle; the miracle of a battered and beaten group of people with no place to go, building a nation in the face of an existential crisis. It is a celebration which is meant to showcase Israeli pride and achievement, rather than political questions which cause division and controversy, even in the Jewish community.

Israel is not absolved from any blame nor is it a perfect utopia. However, neither is the United States. And yet, every July Fourth we all celebrate the independence of this great nation. I know many liberals who vehemently oppose our prison and torture tactics in Guantanamo Bay, but still profess to love America. I also know many conservatives who vehemently oppose Obama’s tactics, but still profess to love America. So, why is it impossible to love and celebrate Israel, and not agree with everything its government does? The pro-Israel and Jewish community are the same way: Israel is not perfect, yet it is a source of pride for us as an impossible idea, where ultimately, blood, sweat and tears became a nation, our homeland.

Therefore this is a plea, an apolitical plea, for appreciation and respect of those celebrating this Israel Independence Week. Israel, just like UCLA, America or each and every one of us, is not without its flaws. But, it is also beautiful. It is a miracle, just like how we all got into UCLA, how we get out of bed for an 8 a.m. class, or like humankind in itself. The celebration is not meant to support one political ideology, nor is it strictly Jewish or pro-Israel.

I encourage all those who love Israel, and those who want to learn more to join Bruins for Israel in Bruin Plaza on Monday. There will be a celebration, not to influence anyone politically, but to portray the man-made miracle that we are proud to call Israel.

Neuman is a second-year political science student and public relations director for Bruins for Israel.

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  • robby

    Israel is a man-made miracle? you call expulsion, colonialism, racism, and apartheid a miracle? lol. yeah, the Unites States is a miracle, too. Because it wasn’t founded on colonialism, racism, slavery, genocide, and exploitation. And how can you say that this event was apolitical when it is clearly is by choosing not to talk about Palestinian suffering at your event? Clearly, it was political. If it was not, you would have no problem talking about the ramifications of Israel’s existence.

    • Concerned Citizen

      This was not a political event. This is a cultural event that celebrates the accurate narrative of the history of that country: There was a people who lived in exile (no different than those from Tibet) who had no political sovereignty over themselves (no different than the modern day Kurds) who wanted to return to their land, govern themselves and preserve their safety and security from their oppressors in Europe and in Arab Muslim countries. The Jews have more rights to the land of Israel than any of us have rights to the land of the Native Americans. There is no apartheid anywhere inside of Israel and as far as the Palestinian territories, should they have ever accepted true negotiations without stipulations or conditions, then they would have had the same situation- sovereignty, self-governance in their own lands (that may be half hour drive distance from their grandparents- but certainly not worth decades of bloodshed). The LOL is that at the end of the day, the Palestinian people have been used as pawns by the Arab governments and their own leadership. A celebration of an independence day, a day of liberation for exile peopled does not required a discussion of the suffering of another. Otherwise, we’d see AN OUNCE of discussion about Jewish suffering at the hands of the Arab Muslims that led to the need for a state in the first place and the subsequent “Al Nakhba”.

      • hypocrisy

        Same old nonsense regurgitated. Using phrases like “return to their land” you pretend as if a Jew living in Europe had more rights than a Palestinian who was born and brought up there. Further more your justifications of Israeli apartheid in the Occupied territories exposes your dishonesty. All Israel does is put up one phony peace proposal after another, so that Hasbarists like you can use it as a talking points. You can’t be serious about peace while you’re busy stealing land. Quit pretending otherwise. And furthermore quit trying to cover for ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

    • roccolore

      Liberals are the racists and apartheid supporters who defend radical Islam.