Israeli author Lizzie Doron on Independence Day

"Israel is facing crucial decisions"

Seventy years after the founding of the State of Israel, Lizzie Doron, author of "Who the Fuck is Kafka?", which traces the unlikely friendship of an Israeli and a Palestinian, walks through her evolving feelings over the years regarding 14 May

I was born in Israel in 1953, the only daughter of Holocaust survivors. In May 1948, five years before me, my country was born.

Independence Day 1958 – I'm 5 years old, Israel is 10

My mother dressed me up in a blue skirt and white blouse, handed me a flag to hold and stuck the menorah symbol pin on my blouse. She had been requested to send me to kindergarten dressed this way for Independence Day. I saw her shedding tears while we walked to the ceremony hand in hand.

From among the sirens, speeches, songs and dancing, despite my young age, I sensed the festive occasion and even without knowing the entire story I was filled with pride and happiness.

1960 – the state of Israel's 12th Independence Day, I am 7 years old

I take part in the ceremony with my classmates. I see my mother standing among the parents who attended the event, smiling at me.

In a clear, loud voice, I read sections from the Proclamation of Independence:

"The state of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the ingathering of the exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture. We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land ..."

Children learning carpentry skills at the Givat Brenner Kibbutz, Israel, circa 1950 (photo by George Pickow/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Excerpt from Israel's Proclamation of Independence: "The state of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the ingathering of the exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture"

Here too, I didn't understand each and every word, and definitely not the entire meaning, but I can still quote this text today with emotion, without omitting a single word.

1967 — Israel is 19, I am 14

Our victory in the Six-Day War proves we must be strong and willing to sacrifice our lives for the sake of this country. Only thus, with the help of the Israeli Defence Forces, we can defeat all our enemies. Terms such as "brave soldiers, die for our country" are part of my bloodstream. My belief in the righteousness of our way becomes even more profound.
In the ceremony that honoured the fallen soldiers, I was selected to read the Yzkor (remembrance) to the audience.

"May the Israeli nation remember its brave sons and daughters, soldiers in the Israeli Defence Forces … May the victorious fallen soldiers of Israel remain sealed within the hearts of Israelis for generations to come."

My mother refused to attend the ceremony, scared by the joy of victory.

"I am the expert on wars," she claimed. "Supporting an army without doubt is dangerous," she stated.

But I didn't listen, stormed out of the house slamming the door behind me.

1971 — Israel is 23, I am 18

I am a soldier, serving on the Golan Heights, and have a boyfriend, an officer in the Israeli Defence Forces.

I was lucky enough to fulfil the Israeli dream, a weapon in one hand and an agricultural tool in the other. I was building my future with my friends in the kibbutz, the most Israeli fortress.

Victorious Israeli soldiers sit atop a jeep brandishing a picture of Gamal Abdel Nasser, then president of Egypt, who triggered the Six Day War by blocking the Straits of Tiran. The Six Day war between Israel and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria lasted from 5 June to 10 June 1967 (photo: picture-alliance/ven Simon)
It was a short war, just six days, yet during that time Israel destroyed the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, captured the Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt and occupied East Jerusalem, which up to that point had been part of Jordan. And that was only the military debacle. The political and cultural consequences of this defeat continue to shape the Arab world to this day

In those years, I distance myself from my mother.

1973 — Israel is 25, I am 20

On the 6th of October, the Yom Kippur War broke out. Syrian planes bombarded my house on the Golan Heights killing seven of my friends.

My dream, my way and my faith are shattered in an instant.

"Perhaps now you will understand that war has no victors, only victims on both sides," said my mother when I returned home to Tel Aviv, broken and defeated.

I and my country are not what we used to be.

1977 — the country is 29, I am 24

Government in Israel is transferred from the Labour Party to the Likud.

"Turnover," announced the TV newscaster.

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