Sunday, May 15, 2011

Herzl in Tel Aviv - 2011

In 2004 the Israeli Knesset passed the Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl Law (In Commemoration of His Memory and His Work), 5764-2004.The purpose of the Law is, “to inculcate future generations with the vision, legacy and activity of Binyamin Ze’ev Herzl, to honor his memory, to teach future generations and to effect the creation of the State of Israel in accordance with his Zionist vision, together with its institutions, its objectives and its image.”

Tomorrow, the Knesset is due to have its annual session which discusses Herzl and Zionism's vision.

Two comments are worthwhile making.

1. Herzl's vision could not have been more successful. We have a living, breathing country in our "old-new land" fulfilling Herzl's dream of normalisation.

But Herzl's vision couldn't have been more wrong! Herzl thought that our Statehood would bring anti-semitism to an end, facilitating Jewish normalisation in the global community. And yet, today, Israel is the focal point of world anti-semitism. This reality lends a fundamental paradox to Herzl's legacy that we don't quite know how to digest.

2. But the real reason that I wanted to write this post is due to this graffiti that I found and photographed in Tel Aviv:

This graffiti is a play on Herzl's famous line: "If you will it; it is no dream." Herzl's original statement indicated that if we have the determination, the courage and desire, then anything is possible. This sort of ideology which animated the founding generation of the State of Israel was responsible for the passion and belief that Medinat Yisrael would come into existence and that it was worth toiling for, fighting for.

Unfortunately, this graffiti shows that there are some who today preach a different ideology: "If you don't want; there is no necessity." לא רוצים - לא צריך. This is not a joke; and if it is, it is humour in poor taste. This way of thinking takes Israel for granted, or worse - suggests that Israel is just worthless, not worth fighting for. It is sad to see how within 63 years of independence there are Israelis who fail to understand what we fight for, who lack the historical perspective to know how desperate the situation of world Jewry was in a pre-Medinat Yisrael world. These are people who fail to envisage the incredible state that we CAN create in Eretz Yisrael.

We still need to plant and tend the seeds of ideology, nurturing and fostering a passion and love for our country, hope for the future, and the wherewithall with which to build our collective future.

Happy Herzl Day!

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