Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Coming Up on Independance Day

I don't have a lot of time because I have to run to class, but before I forget to write about it I wanted to share some moments from a preschool celebration for Independance Day. It began with coloring in blue and white, with stickers and stars (and, like always, I ended up drawing mermaids for Nadav, who is "The Little Mermaid" obsessed). During the circle time, the teacher had six students form a circle in the center of the room. She gave three of them white crepe paper and three blue crepe paper, and had them hand each other the crepe paper to form a Magen David, which they placed in the center of the room. Then, the teacher played a song for the kids which works kind of like BINGO. The lyrics are "My land of Israel is beautiful and blossoming. Who built it and who planted it? All of us together. I built a house, and I planted a tree, and I layed a road, and I built a bridge, and I wrote a song for the land of Israel" adding one thing at a time. While we sang the song, we placed toy houses, roads, trees, bridges, and books around the rim of the star. It was all very festive, and presented the holidy of Yom HaAtzmaut as one of great pride and achievement.
By way of contrast, (and again this has to be brief because I'm off to class in a minute) yesterday I asked a friend if she wanted to go to a picnic for Yom HaAtzmaut. She said she had to think about it - she studies Arabic and Hebrew, has many Palestinian friends, and is generally left wing in politics. She told me that she feels caught between two cultures with regard to how to spend the 'holiday.' She said that many people she knows will spend it mourning, but she does not want to do that, however she doesn't exactly want to celebrate either. She says it is the holiday to celebrate the beginning of the State of Israel, which is something to celebrate, but this event resulted in many casualties, Palestinian refugees being displaced out of Israel, continued disparities in distribution of wealth and resources, etc. Somehow, it had not occured to me that I shouldn't put aside my ambivalence about Israeli policies and history in order to celebrate a festive day - As in America, where I'm willing to see fireworks and be proud of the USA on July 4 though American independance was founded on ideas such as slavery and taking away land and livelihood from native peoples. Surely there's enough to be proud of in Israel that I can celebrate it for one day without concentrating on its (large) flaws. Or maybe it's just because I'm lazy and like to celebrate that I feel this way. I'd love to hear your thoughts about national/nationalistic holidays and the value of celebrating them - does celebrating your country (or another) somehoe invalidate or weaken your critique of it?

I found an interesting article (and another) from a few years ago that is relevant to this question, I think. I'd love to hear your thoughts. And now I'd better go as I'm going to be late for Hebrew!

1 comment:

Jessica said...