Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rivlin's comments on Jerusalem Day

Reuven Rivlin, Knesset Speaker, delivered a few interesting words during his speech in the special Knesset session commemorating this national holiday:

Jerusalem Day was created by law as a national holiday. And yet the nature of celebrations in Jerusalem and the identity of those dancing in the streets today teach us that the national holiday in its current form more resembles a sectorial holiday. To be honest, most of the main events in Jerusalem have long been held under the auspices of the religious public.

Rivlin is pointing out a problem that I've raised before on this blog. It's a worrying issue with the secular Zionism movement - a failure to stress Jewishness as an essential part of the Israeli identity, a failure that could have grave consequences for our future ... or as Arik Sharon put it:

I remember back in the 1950s and '60s when I was traveling abroad I felt the desire by others to consider me not a Jew but as an Israeli, to draw the distinction. You are an Israeli, they seemed to say. They, those people over there with strange clothes and strange ways - they are Jews. And in a way it felt easy to be accepted like that. But it was also dangerous. It was a signal that we had lost our Jewishness. And I for one, even then, never believed we would really be able to survive here if we were nothing more than Israelis. For our attachment to the land of Israel, our identity with it, comes through out Jewishness. I am a Jew, I thought then, as I think now. That does not mean I am a religious man. I am not. When it comes to practicing Judaism, there is much I do not know. But I do know for certain that above everything I am a Jew and only afterwards an Israeli and the rest

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