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Sh’ma Yisra’el: Israel at 60

Birthday celebrations should be jubilant, full of excitement for the future and reflection on the past. Yet Israel’s 60th-birthday comes at a time when the reality of peace seems like a distant dream drifting into the memory of her youth. When Israel should be relaxing and preparing for a real, tangible peace and promise, she is uncertain of what the future may bring.
While Israel ought to be spending this time of celebration in tranquility she finds herself marking her 60th-birthday much as she has lived everyday since 1948—persevering onward against all odds with the hope of a better tomorrow. The question lingers on the now collectively sixty-year-old mind of Israel, as it has in many times of uncertainty in our lives, as the celebration begins who will arrive for the party? Many European nations feel that Israel constitutes the greatest threat to world peace. Subsequently, United Nations conferences have met to label the nation as an “apartheid state.” Human Rights organizations issue statements ranging from sincere concern to outright condemnation of the current Israeli-Palestinian Crisis.
With all of the angst from world leaders and foreign nations Israel finds herself caught in the fray of it all. Hopeful for peace with her neighbors, Israel is also soberly aware of past conflicts and failed realizations of lasting peace. For Jews and non-Jews, living within and outside of Israel, vividly remembered is the bitter-sweet memory of the establishment of Israel after the horrific realities of the Holocaust. The previous and current generations of Israelis have not forgotten the seven wars fought as a nation, violent terrorist uprisings including two Intifadas, and failed attempts at peace.
The establishment of the nation of Israel (know in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael) has been an endless struggle for coexistence between Israelis and neighboring Palestinians; at times with either side in the conflict less willing to make political concessions for the greater good and prosperity of future generations. These two groups of people have more in common than the present politics of division and superiority would let on and are left to wonder if peace shall ever thrive in the land of their ancestors.
Israel has proven herself able to survive the bloodshed and horrors that her victories have brought along with the tainted hope for a better tomorrow. The plight of the Palestinians and the concerns of neighboring Arab countries is a tangible reality. Palestinian Authorities have begun to democratize their people but the extremism incubated and nurtured by the past realities of land taken from ancestors and pressures from Israeli forces have complicated peace talks.
This 60th-birthday marks a time for thoughtful consideration on the part of the upcoming leaders in both the younger Israeli and Palestinian generations. Should this conflict ever come to a peaceful solution equitable for both parties involved it will have to be a solution that focuses on the future and not the past—albeit a western concept of political affairs, but the only hope for a real, tangible peace. While some nations may not arrive to celebrate Israel’s 60th-birthday, Israelis nonetheless preserve onward, much as they have in past times, with the underlying hope that the future will be more prosperous and equitable for future generations.

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