How will our lives look? Will our lot be predetermined? And by what or whom? By God? By fate? Or maybe we have the power to decide for ourselves? Maybe our future, fate and lives depend a little on us?
Even the greatest believers in God or fate still believe that their futures and lives depend greatly on their own will, on the decisions they make, the roads they choose, the things they do. Otherwise they’d all lie under their own fig trees and do nothing, on the excuse that they were waiting for the hand of God or fate to do the work for them. And the fact is, very few such people exist.
So how do you really envision – in your imagination and dreams, which for the purposes of this discussion are free of all bounds and limitations – the Independence Day festivities in another 70 years? If it depended only on you, only on us, how would you hope and dream that Israel’s 140th anniversary celebrations would look?
Here’s one possibility. On the eve of the joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day, the heads of the two federated states, or the head of the single state and his deputy, Deganit Azoulay and Mahmoud Abu Saleh, would march together, hand in hand, to the memorial for the fallen of both peoples in Jerusalem. There they would lay a wreath and bow down together, as they did every year, as a gesture of reconciliation between the peoples.
The next day a siren would sound for one minute throughout the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, and everywhere – in Tel Aviv and Sakhnin, in Ashdod and Nablus – all the citizens of both nations, both the religious and the secular, both the wearers skullcaps and the wearers of kaffiyehs, would stand silently in memory of all those who fell in the wars between us.
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And the next day, on our shared Independence Day, there would be a ceremony. But it would be a civilian one, with no army, uniforms or displays of arrogance and might; a civilian ceremony without the bloody history between the two peoples, without the Holocaust and the Nakba; a civilian ceremony that would consist entirely of celebration and praise for the achievements of the joint state or federation.
It would be a civilian ceremony with songs and dances in two languages, Hebrew and Arabic; a civilian ceremony that would include representation from every population group in both states, Palestinian and Israeli, and every religious community in the land – Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Do you wish and hope, can you even imagine, that this is how your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will celebrate our 140th Independence Day? Or is another ceremony and celebration like the ones we had here this month all that you’re capable of dreaming of, and actually all you even want and hope for? That we should celebrate our 140th Independence Day exactly as we did our 70th?
That even in another 70 years we should continue to remember and honor only our own catastrophes and dead while finding no place in our hearts or on our daises for the Palestinians, too, to honor their catastrophes and dead? That even in another 70 years we Jews should celebrate only our independence, while ignoring the existence of the Palestinians who live among us and even confining and imprisoning them for the sake of our own independence celebrations, which would still display military might and threats against everyone who has ever threatened us?
The future depends partly on us. Not only on us. But partly, and perhaps even mainly on us. And if we don’t dream of a better future, there’s no chance that our future will be better. Therefore, we Jews must think about what we hope and wish for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren – the same thing with more elaborate fireworks, more mass dancing, more powerful planes and smarter bombs, or perhaps less of all that and more peace?
Whatever you dream of, hope for, desire and do – that is what you will bequeath them.