Tonight the air-raid/missile-attack siren will go off in all Israel, signifying not the immediate, present turmoil and dangers of war, but a moment of silence and remembrance marking the beginning of Memorial Day. The sirens go off, traffic stops even on main highways, and people stand still for a moment of reflection, while the jolting, splitting wail of the siren accompanies the moment of silence and contemplation.

What do you think about during that moment of standing quietly at attention?

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Some people think of loved ones, friends, family members, colleagues-in-arms or co-workers in everyday normal life in Israel; those who were killed in action, defending our ancient-reborn state and its people; those who were on their way to work or home from a celebration and were killed by others of another culture filled with a murderous hatred.

I also have people to think about and remember: a friend who were singing songs that celebrate the fulfillment of ancient prophecies about the Jewish nation's return to our ancestral and eternal homeland – killed because others couldn't tolerate Jews returning to the city of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a friend called from citizen life to reserve duty, to defend the people of Israel, who was killed by enemy soldiers who surrendered but then whipped out guns and killed a citizen-soldier who had a much higher level of morality and wouldn't think of harming a captive enemy soldier; and young people I had the great opportunity to study with, students who bravely went where it was their duty to go in order to defend Israel.

But that's not the main thing in my mind as the sound of the siren is in my ears.

I think about the miracle of the re-establishment of the Jewish state of Israel, the only state that has been under threat of annihilation since before its inception, threats upheld and supported by people who think themselves otherwise cultured and moral, but who suffer from the ignorance and prejudice that are the hotbed for rancid anti-Semitism, whether it be the primitive anti-Semitism of the blood libel, the pseudo-scientific racist anti-Semitism of the Nazis and all their helpers, enablers and moral supporters, or the anti-Semitism that masquerades as anti-Zionism, as if Zionism were anything else but the revolutionary liberation movement of the Jewish people. All forms of anti-Semitism are base and immoral as well as baseless.

I think about this state, under constant threat, and yet is so successful, the people so creative, down-to-earth, happy, open, generous and surprisingly relatively free of any real hate or malice towards those who hate us.

I think about the miracle of Israeli independence – but even more about the incredible people who were willing to give everything they cherish, even their lives, in order to insure the realization of that ancient dream: the return of the Jewish people to sovereignty in our homeland.

I think of their determination, dedication, lack of selfishness, and their courage of spirit which bred their bravery whether in battle or in conquering fear in everyday life in Israel which at times is threatened by terrorism.

I think about that courage which was apparent only in spiritual life amongst Jews in the long night of exile, that courage that had been a staple of our ancestors who lived in this land and peopled the Bible, that courage that has re-emerged in our times in the nation and individuals.

I think about that valorous willingness to give freely to others, to give life to a nation and a people. That courage was instrumental in giving us our independence.

Above all I think about this wondrous miracle, that a people dispersed in exile in various countries and different cultures, has come back all together to be again one nation in our land, speaking one language – even if we have a million different opinions about a million different things.

When that siren goes off, all of us from Eilat to Metulah, left and right, religious and secular, urban and rural dwellers, Jews and those that are with us – we all stand together, in united hallowed thought, connecting to that courage that founded a state and that we yearn to absorb, to guide and aid us in our lives every single day.

In memory of Tzvi, Hadar, Gadi, Yoni, Eli and Dina… and all the rest.

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