Monday, May 19, 2014

Why We Are Normal

I don't think any other country in the world has to explain why it has a right to exist, why it has the government it has, where its capital is, or why it is normal. And yet, Israelis spend a ridiculous amount of time doing just that.

An international guest came to Israel from India and when I offered to give him a tour of Jerusalem, our capital, he was surprised. "Isn't Tel Aviv the capital of Israel?"

"No, never," I responded.

"But that's what we were taught," he said.

"Well, they are teaching you wrong. The capital of Israel - always has been, always will be, is Jerusalem."

We have a right to exist for so many reasons. My favorite phrase is simple - by right and by might, by history and in justice, this land is ours. We were here 2,000 years ago - no one else was. We had this land and lost it and still Jews remained here - always, there were Jews here. In large numbers, then small numbers and no again in large numbers.

We have a right according to international law. The League of Nations offered 50% of this land to the Arab population and 50% to the Jewish population. The Jews agreed; the Arabs chose war. Why is that simple fact ignored again and again. They CHOSE war in 1949 and lost. End of story and end of the Palestine that might have been. They were given an opportunity and chose to say no.

An agreement of sorts was worked out - it lasted for 7 years until they attacked again; that new agreement after the 1956 war lasted 11 years, until 1967. So, for 19 years, there was a set of borders until the Arabs made it clear they were going to attack again. This time, we didn't let them and we made the first move (with Syria and Egypt only; Jordan was told that we were not going to attack...and so they attacked us). Again in 1973 and again and again since then.

And yet we are constantly being told we don't exist, that we don't have a right to exist as other nations, that we have to justify our right to be here in our land. We have the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean - because Jordan attacked and lost; because 5 Arab nations invaded a tiny country hours after it was declared.

By contrast, Americans came to their land less than 300 years ago. We know clearly from whom they took the land...and yet does anyone question the United States' right to rule from the Atlantic to the Pacific?

But all of this has been said before. Do you want to know why we are normal? Not because of politics but today it is because of sports. Yup, sports. I'm so not into sports, but even I am excited that we won the European championship. Maccabi Tel Aviv swept into victory and took with it the pride of Israel.

There are so many reasons why we aren't normal - and it's important for us to remind ourselves every once in a while that a normal country doesn't accept even one missile fired at its cities by its neighbors, while we pretty much accept it as a weekly, sometimes daily, event. Normal countries don't have to issue separate pages at the airport on which to stamp proof that they have entered and exited - they just stamp in the person's passport, but not us.

Normal countries put "Made in " on the products they manufacture. Israelis are quiet about it and so we can quietly laugh on the side because so much of our technology IS being used (and paid for) by countries that hate and deny us. And yeah, the jokes on them.

So last night - just as any normal nation would, Israel erupted in pride and joy. We won the European championship! We are the champions!

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