Magazine

A View from Israel: Lessons of independence

It was George Washington who said, “What a triumph for our enemies... to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves.”

George Washington
Photo by: Courtesy: Gilbert Stuart)
This past week saw the triumphant annual celebration Americans call “Independence Day.”

On July 2, 1776, delegates of the colonies voted unanimously in favor of freedom for the American colonies from British rule, and on July 4 they adopted the Declaration of Independence.

Many Americans were now faced with a difficult choice: join the revolution or maintain loyalty to the Crown. For over five years, the American people fought for their individual and collective rights in what became known as the Revolutionary War. Often, members of the same family found themselves on opposing sides and facing each other in battle.

It wasn’t until the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781 that a triumphant George Washington, French generals and their troops assembled to accept the sword of British General Charles Cornwallis as a sign of his defeat.

Subsequent peace talks between the United States, Great Britain, France and Spain during the year 1782 resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, confirming US independence and setting the boundaries of the new nation.

The State of Israel was born under different circumstances and for different reasons, but there are comparisons.

While the US fought for existence for seven years from 1776 to 1783 – not counting earlier years when the colonies began to organize against and resist Britain – today Israel is still fighting for existence with no peaceful end in sight.

A strong America gained respect in the world. A strong Israel can too. And it has – every time its soldiers fought valiantly in wars and its leaders stood up for the country’s interests.

But today, so large a portion of the country’s population of nearly eight million citizens naively believe that a capitulating Israel would be a stronger Israel. “If only we give up some more land,” they say, “then we will have peace.”

“If only (fill in the blank) then the nations of the world will accept us.”

Israel’s leaders must not be distracted by this type of naive rhetoric, but rather should do what is right for this country – not just what is acceptable to other countries.

A LOOK back at America’s history offers a clear demonstration of how unwavering resolve helps achieve the right goals. Protests against the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts and the Intolerable Acts did not occur in a vacuum. Nor did the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. These were moments in history that developed from complex issues, deep resentment between the colonists and the British and were a direct result of ever-increasing tension at the time.

The colonists did not put down their weapons in defeat when faced with a power that sought to curb their freedom and right of sovereignty. Rather, they stood strong and ultimately triumphed.

Israelis need to learn from the colonist’s staunch, obstinate belief that his way is the right way and nothing will stand in the way.

Israelis deserve to live in peace without fear of attack or even discord stemming from neighboring countries.

Israelis deserve to be treated equally among the nations.

The Constitution’s statement – “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – rings true everywhere. This single, perhaps most important, sentence in the entire English language highlights the very ideal that Israel’s neighbors do not believe in.

Yet so many nations around the world are naive and do not understand this. If they do, they certainly don’t care. A short glance at the UN proves this.

Look around. The world is taking forever to clamp down on Iran. Russia still supports Syria even though President Bashar Assad is responsible for the massacre of thousands of civilians. Egypt is now under the dangerous influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And yet it is Israel that is seen as the problem in the Middle East. Doomsday fearmongers will insist that “the end of the two-state solution is near,” but this is misguided.

Time is on Israel’s side and there is no need to rush into a suicidal deal with a nation that wants to see Israel pushed into the sea. Israel must make clear that it is ready to talk when the Palestinians are ready to talk.

Until then, it will turn inward and focus on its domestic issues. There exist intolerable levels of discord in society and some of the Knesset members are responsible for creating problems instead of resolving them.

It was George Washington who said, “What a triumph for our enemies... to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves.”

There are plenty of issues in this country that require immediate attention, whether it is about equal contribution to society by all of society, social welfare concerns, housing, taxes or the rising cost of living.

Israel need not allow other nations to dictate what it should focus on.

The US is a strong nation because it is the sum of all its parts – but also because it stands its ground and, for the most part, does not allow other nations to tell it what to do.

While Israel cannot be compared to the US, lessons can be learned from US history starting even from before 1776 all the way to the present.

One of the main lessons this country should walk away with is that it can never deviate from the ideals on which it was founded.


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