The joy and pride over the miracle of the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty and the very existence of the State of Israel should not be forgotten even on ordinary days, which by nature are filled with grumbling, worries and a focus on faults and failures. On Independence Day in particular the heart seeks spiritual uplift in a holiday atmosphere, but also justification for celebration that goes beyond the mere passage of another year.

In that sense, the Israeli perception of time has changed over the past several years: It was always dynamic, thirsting for progress and achievement, whether in the military sphere or in the economic and international arenas. But for some time now it has become static at best, settling for basic survival.

This change can be chalked up to the great success of the "lowering expectations policy" that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has championed since the start of his political career. According to this pessimistic perspective, which has gathered strength over the past three years, not only is there no reason to anticipate a breakthrough in the peace process or any significant national accomplishment, but every day that does not bring with it a second Holocaust should be considered a resounding success.

Israel's stagnation was stirred this past year by the Islamic fervor that has swept the Arab world, the erosion of the peace treaties from without and the eruption of the social protest movement from within. But all this has been overshadowed by the "Iranian threat" agenda that for three years the Netanyahu government has made not only its sole policy but also nearly its defining policy. The admittedly grave threat of a nuclear-capable Iran has become a pretext for the government's nonengagement with Israel's genuine and most basic problems, and its continued entrenchment in and creeping annexation of the territories.

The aspiration for peace, prosperity, normalization and integration into the family of nations that were taken for granted for 60 years were dissolved in the stagnant water of the swamp of fears, withdrawal and almost voluntary isolation. While the phrase from the Passover Haggadah so dear to Netanyahu, "In every generation our enemies rise up against us to annihilate us," might help to bond a community together, it cannot lead a confident state into the bright future we all seek.

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