Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Flagging Patriotism" on Israel's 59th?

Less than three days before Israel's 59th independence anniversary, we finally put some flags out on our balcony, courtesy of a local newspaper. In many neighborhoods there appears to be a marked absence of flags and banners that are usually hung out in the days preceding Israel's annual national holiday; and from recent articles and news commentaries, this 'phenomena' seems to be a nation-wide reality.

More than eight months following the end of last summer's war in Lebanon, and with an atmosphere rife with political controversy and scandal, it's no wonder that fewer symbols of national pride are being displayed by a public that is becoming more and more disillusioned with what is transpiring – especially among the country's leadership. To give you an idea about what has brought all of this on, a quick survey highlight the following problems that Israelis presently have to deal with:

1. The President of the State has been indicted for charges of rape and other forms of
sexual misconduct.

2. The Prime Minister is under investigation for his handling of the war, as well as a
number of financial dealings involving properties and other investments.

3. The Defense Minister, chosen for a position he was completely unqualified for, is
under fire and many have called for his resignation.

4. The Finance Minister is now under increasing investigation for allegations of both
Grand Theft and fraud, with "clarion calls" for his dismissal.

5. More and more Israelis, especially aged ones (particularly Holocaust survivors) are
living under the poverty line and cannot even buy enough food to survive. This
also includes one in every four Israeli children.

6. The three Israeli captive soldiers are still unaccounted for, and the present
government appears unwilling or incapable of securing their release.

7. It was revealed this weekend that emigration (Yeridah) is now exceeding
immigration (Aliyah) for the first time in over twenty years. And this is despite an
increase in new immigrants (Olim) from France and other European countries.

Need one say more…..

It's not the first time that following a major military conflict that feelings of dismay and lack of patriotism have been evident in the Jewish State. What makes this year's phenomena even more striking however, are the other problems that go along with the aftermath of the Lebanon II war.

Israel's growing economic affluence (for some, that is), largely brought on by the "get rich quick" attitudes inspired by the technological boom, have given many people the economic freedom and mobility that enables them to relocate their entire business venture by simply packing their 'laptop' into a suitcase and boarding an international flight to American cities like Boston or Santa Clara California. Zionistic calls to 'settle the land' are becoming fewer and fewer, particularly following the mass disengagement from settlements in Gaza and planned 'resettlements' from large sections of the West Bank.

Though many of the 'Yordim' or emigrants are ones who came to Israel from Russia and other former Soviet Union republics, they as a whole are intelligent, highly educated people, whose skills are very needed to ensure Israel's technological edge over her adversaries. With countries like Iran on the verge of becoming nuclear powers, this 'brain drain' is even more critical, and could even be fatal in next few years.

We must therefore find ways to correct the many problems facing our country; and this can well begin with coming together as a nation and showing a bit more patriotism – even if it is only the placing of flags on our cars and on our balconies.

Remember – we don't have another (Jewish) country.

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