Jewish Journal


April 26, 2012

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

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