The celebrations of Independence Day in Israel always follow those of the more somber Remembrance Day for the fallen soldiers, which takes place a day earlier. It is a sad and constant reminder that, despite the tremendous achievements in 66 years of independence, the still unresolved conflict with her neighbours has claimed the lives of many people on both sides. Independence Day celebrations are always an opportune time for the Israeli leadership to highlight the country’s successes and the need to stand firm against security threats stemming from living in a hostile political environment. It is rarer for them to contemplate, at least publicly, their own contributions to this hostility. This Independence Day still must have felt different from other recent ones. It came a week after the peace process with the Palestinians collapsed with virtually no prospects in sight for its revival. Consequently, and with no precedence, an American leader warned Israel that she might be on the road to becoming an Apartheid state. It was also a week which witnessed an intensification in anti-Arab hate crimes – known as "price tag" - by Jewish ultra-nationalists in Israel. And it was also a week in which Prime Minister Netanyahu announced his intention to press ahead with changing Israel’s basic laws to enshrine that Israel “…is the nation-state of one people – the Jewish people – and no one else.” On her 66th birthday, these and other developments threaten the safeguarding of Israel’s long term survival as a Jewish, democratic and prosperous country.
Perceptions of Israel
Expanding settlements in the West Bank and adopting an uncompromising stance during the peace talks can only lead to growing international skepticism whether Israel is remotely interested in the two state-option.Yossi Mekelberg