UPDATE: 7:15 pm Friday: 45 minutes ago at 6:15 an Israeli woman was injured by “rocks” thrown at her vehicle in Hawara–just south of Shechem (Nablus). At 6:04 a soldier in the Israeli reserves was wounded by a “rocks” thrown by Palestinians and Israeli leftists at Nabi Saleh. At 2:47 this afternoon, Israeli police absurdly arrested Jews at the entrance to the Temple Mount. At 1:25 the IDF dispersed Palestinian rioters on Route 60. At 11:35 am this morning, the IDF issued an “imminent terror threat” alert for the Sinai (following the attack on Eilat, this alert is a little late).
In a few minutes, Pesach (Passover) will begin in Israel. We all know that this holiday is a celebration of Jewish freedom which at the same time remembers the slavery that Jews experienced in Egypt. On this night, each Jew imagines that he or she is one of the Jews who left Egypt on that exodus to freedom thousands of years ago.
More than half of the people at our large seder table tonight will be non-Jews. And for all of you non-Jews who read this blog everyday, I want to wish you an especially happy and sweet Passover!
And speaking of “happy”, the subject of this blog today is five reasons Israelis should feel happy this Passover.
1. We can be happy that Israel has the Netanyahu government. As much as your humble servant criticizes the government’s dysfunction in dealing with security matters–particularly its stark inability to stop the Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel–can you even begin to imagine what the situation would be like if Israel had a Kadima or Labor government? There would be no security at all–and Palestinian flags would be flying over Jerusalem.
2. We can be happy that we have brave Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria which are on the front line of fighting against Palestinian terrorists. In the same way that the Jewish communities of northern Gaza formed a buffer between the Hamas terrorists and southern Israel–before Ariel Sharon decided to unilaterally and forcibly evacuate them–the communities in Judea and Samaria protect Israel everyday. Can you even begin to imagine what life would be like in Israel without these communities? Palestinian terrorism would move immediately into Israel proper–just as it did when Hamas took over northern Gaza and began firing thousands of missiles into southern Israel.
3. We can be happy that Israel exists to safeguard and protect Jews from all over the world. With anti-Semitism dramatically increasing in countries like France, Venezuela, Argentina, and Russia, Jews in these countries can find safety in Israel–and they have been coming in record numbers. As Islam spreads its ugly anti-semitism throughout the Europe, Asia, and the Americas, the number of Jews seeking refuge in Israel will increase.
4. We can be happy that the orthodox are increasing in Israel, both from the standpoint of demography and the standpoint of protecting religious Judaism. The birthrates in the orthodox communities are to be applauded–as are the efforts of the orthodox to maintain Jewish tradition. This should not be interpreted to mean that the rights of secular Israelis should be trampled on–particularly the rights of women. But when your humble servant reads, as he did yesterday, a female rabbi in the United States saying that we Jews should make Elijah more like Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, I am happy for Israel’s orthodox.
5. Finally, we can be happy for the miracle that is Israel. In two weeks modern Israel will celebrate its 64th independence day–and over 3300 continuous years of Jews living in the Holy Land. Think about how far we have come–with some of the world’s leading universities, one of the world’s strongest economies, and–according to all surveys–some of the world’s happiest people.
As we sit down to our Passover feast tonight and read the story of our people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Israel, let our story of seeking freedom be the story of people everywhere, and let us be happy–resolving to make Israel even stronger in the future and a continued light to all nations.