Dodging missiles on Sunday, dancing in the streets on Thursday - comment

Resilience was on resplendent display throughout the past week, culminating in the Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.

Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from the Israeli side of the border March 25, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
While a good part of the country sat leisurely around the barbecue on Thursday waiting for the burgers to sizzle and the steaks to get medium rare, Sunday never felt so far away.
Last Sunday, that is. That day when hundreds of rockets pounded Ashdod and Ashkelon and Sderot and Nir Am. That day when four of our countrymen were killed by indiscriminate rocket fire just because they were, well, our countrymen.
Three days, only three days, separated dread about whether we were on the verge of sending our children into Gaza to fight a full-blown war, and a day when the main concern had to do with the inconsiderate guy on the next barbecue over playing his music too loudly.
Last Sunday, residents of communities around the Gaza Strip were worried about whether they would be able to shepherd their children into bomb shelters in under 20 seconds; on Thursday, the concern for many of them – like for so many of their compatriots – was about whether they could get a parking place at one of the crowded picnic areas across the land.
On Sunday, the country’s mood and feel was heavy and depressed. On Thursday, it was light and carefree.
And all that was separated by just three days.
Much has been written over the years about the whiplash emotional switch this country makes each year when it goes from the grief of Remembrance Day – full of heartrending ceremonies at cemeteries, tear-inducing tales of lives snuffed out too soon on the television and somber music on the radio – immediately into the joy of Independence Day, with its singing and dancing and fireworks and overall silliness on the street. It is a collective journey from grief to joy in no time flat.
The ability to make that switch throughout the year – not just to make it while marking our national days in the current Hebrew month of Iyar – is this country’s great strength. The ability to shift from a near war footing one day to a country that feels softly at ease the next is one of the secrets of Israel’s success. It is the ability to move on and not be paralyzed by fear or grief or pain or a sense of victimhood.
It’s called resilience, and it was on resplendent display throughout the week, culminating in the Independence Day celebrations on Thursday.
The Israeli people, especially the two million who live within immediate rocket range of the Gaza Strip, could have been excused for taking a pass on this year’s Independence Day celebrations. They could have been excused for staying in bed, withdrawing inward, for pessimism, for not eating – for showing signs of collective depression.
But they didn’t – because what good would any of that do? They didn’t, because to respond in that way is simply not Israel’s style.
Thursday’s picnics in the forests, the parties on the beaches, the thanksgiving prayers in the synagogues and the visits to army installations, all those routine acts we perform on Independence Day, took on a bit more meaning this year, coming – as they did – just days after that most recent attempt by our enemies to shut down the Zionist enterprise.
The message those mundane and simple acts sent was clear: Israel will not be stopped. Not by rockets from Gaza, not by terrorist tunnels from Hezbollah and not by Iranian entrenchment in Syria. It will not be stopped today, just as it was not stopped over the last 71 years by wars or terrorism or fierce external hostility or sharp internal discord.
At 71, this country – if it has proven anything – has proven that it marches on.
Seven hundred rockets fired from Gaza last weekend? Never mind, we’ll party on Wednesday night and all day Thursday, reveling in our independence. Because what else are we going to do? Mope? Sulk? Feel sorry for ourselves? Lament our fate? No, that’s not how Israel responds.
Instead, we protect ourselves to the best of our ability – an ability that is simply mind-boggling when placed in the larger sweep of Jewish history – and march on. And, 71 years later, this country has shown that it can march on better than most.