In late April, as all of you here in San Diego were (presumably) celebrating Israel’s 64th Independence Day in Mission Bay, I was traipsing around Boston, soaking up all of the history I could of the events leading up to the very first Independence Day here in the United States. (Judge me if you will. I won’t hold it against you.)
Though I may have been far from the festivities here in San Diego, I was with you in spirit, I assure you. While you were celebrating independence, freedom, liberty, boldness, autonomy and sovereignty back here on the west coast, I was, in my own mind at least, reveling in those same principles as they must have felt to the early Americans who walked purposefully along the same cobblestone streets and as they whispered hushed conversations plotting rebellion against the King over dinner in the same pubs I dined in. (And hey, we even were sharing in the end of colonization by Britain, kind of.)
While you were waving Israeli flags and posing for pictures with IDF soldiers, I was making the acquaintance of costumed revolutionary men, and even one in full costume who snacked on peanuts and a pint of brew at the bar of the revolutionary-period Union Oyster House while chatting up a modern guy next to him, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. It may still be a month from July, but I was already in full fireworks mode.
(Not to completely abandon my friends back home, though, I made sure to visit the New England Holocaust Memorial, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, and Montreal’s Jewish neighborhood of Outremont, including a yummy bagel shop and kosher bakery, while in the region — you know, just so I didn’t feel too far from home.)
Even though Israel doesn’t have any “historic” sites that Zionists can seek out to remember her acquisition of independence, Israel does have something arguably better — the remnants of ancient Israel. These seemingly countess sites, a new one discovered all the time, aren’t just exciting because they’re so old and because they teach about early Jewish life in Israel, but because they’re symbolic of the Jewish claim to the land, the promise God made that it would be held for the Jews, that it would belong to this chosen group of people. The Jews have been there so long, how can anyone argue they aren’t home when they’re in Israel? This affirmation of the long Jewish history in the land of Israel vis a vis its historic and archeological sites is proof positive that Israel is a Jewish state.
Perhaps it’s their similar shared histories as modern countries with the same values and foundational beliefs that have made them natural allies, countries who just understand one another. Going from absolutely nothing to world powerhouses, using the ingenuity and rugged determination of their respective first citizens, is unifying. Starting as the underdog and overcoming the odds stacked against them to became the success stories they are today is a powerful tie. So, I may be one month late for Israel and one month early for the U.S., but I’ll split the difference: here’s a June “happy birthday” to Israel and the U.S. They’re 64 and 236 years old, respectively. As Mr. Spock (as portrayed in the original Star Trek series by Leonard Simon Nimoy, who was, coincidentally, a Member of the Tribe and native Bostonian) said, “Live long and prosper.”