“Why we should *not* celebrate Israel's 70th Independence Day
We, the Zionists who love their country, believe in the Declaration of Independence in its entirety, and view Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and as a democratic state that treats all its citizens and residents equally. We do not celebrate the fact that the State of Israel has no civil rights, freedom, justice or equality for millions of Palestinians who have lived under Israeli Occupation for more than 50 years.
We are ashamed that there are Jews in Israel who view this state of oppression, which undermines the foundations of democracy and morality, as appropriate. We are ashamed because in their opinion, only Jews deserve human, civil and political rights – rights that aren’t reserved for Palestinian Arabs living under Occupation or siege.
We regret that Israel has become the only apartheid state in the Western world where different laws apply to Jews and Palestinians living in the occupied territories. We protest against all those who harm the ‘Rule of Law’ and destroy it with an endless Occupation, racist and discriminatory laws. We oppose a policy that ignores the vital need for peace and human dignity, a policy that acts against peace organizations and human rights organizations.
We strongly protest against those who jeopardize everything that this State did for our generation, and brutally trample everything it aspired to be: a state of free citizens with freedom of choice and expression, citizens who love their country, their culture and their language, defend its freedom and security and serve in its army. […] A State that nurtures the human dignity of all its inhabitants regardless of religion, nationality, race or gender; [citizens that have] mutual responsibility, brotherhood, reason, vision, education, and diligence. […] This dream, as expected, coincided with the challenges of reality more than once, but this was the world we grew up in and where were educated, and to which we contributed as much as we could.
Today, when the dream has shattered, we mourn the terrible violence, the hatred, and the incitement which have become the common language of the current government. This government names loyal and honest people who seek justice and morality, people who oppose the expulsion of refugees – as ‘traitors’, ‘conspirators’ and ‘foreign agents’. We are ashamed to see a democratic state fail to recognize the multiplicity of opinions, and deny the legitimacy of a political debate space between controversial positions.
This position is expressed today in the cancellation of any democratic debate. The government categorizes political opponents as ‘traitors’ and ‘foreign agents’ in the areas of law, equality, the expulsion of the refugees, the Occupation, governmental nepotism, or even the policy of opening fire on unarmed demonstrators. We deplore the fact that the current government is erasing peace from the agenda in the name of the ‘sanctity’ of illegal settlements, the immoral Occupation, misguided ideas of annexation without citizenship, and perpetuating the Occupation while denying the human and civil rights of the occupied.
We are mourning the country headed by a man [reference to Binyamin Netanyahu] who was one of the leading inciters against Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by a wrongdoer. He [Netanyahu], who has learned nothing, continues to incite hatred and promote the next three gunshots.
We strongly protest against our Prime Minister who wrote on his Facebook page that the ‘New Israel Fund’ is behind the diplomatic move that led to the collapse of the deportation agreement with Rwanda, and added other false accusations against human rights organizations supported by the fund. Netanyahu also claimed that the NIF rejects Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, that it is ‘anti-Israel’, and ‘endangers’ Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Needless to say, no claim from those mentioned above have any substance. With regard to the refugee issue and to any foreign government involved in the matter – these claims are baseless. 
How can we celebrate in this terrible reality where racist nationalist phenomena such as ‘Hilltop Youth’ and ‘Price Tag’ arose? Or a reality with ‘Im Tirtzu’, the Lahava movement, and the ‘March of Flags’ that curse and insult the residents of East Jerusalem?  How can we celebrate in a reality where Abu Khdeir is killed and the home of the Dawabsheh family burnt ? A reality where messianic Jewish nationalism intends to replace democracy with a monarchy, and aims to reconstruct the Temple and reinstitute sacrifices.  A reality where there is a Judaism that seeks to promote a religious state and religious coercion. A Judaism whose representatives sit in government and ignore the fact that the State of Israel was founded as a secular Zionist state.
I will end with the words of my friend Rina Anati, who describes the loss we grieve whilst lighting an alternative torch [on Independence Day] [5}:
‘I, Rina, of the Amram house, the daughter of Sarah and Yaakov Amram of Hazor Haglilit, light the torch for the torchbearers of the State of Israel. I light this torch in memory of liberalism, in memory of freedom of expression and freedom of thought, in memory of the secular and liberal educational system in which I was raised and educated, in memory of the social services that no longer exist, in memory of the hope we had in our hearts on Independence Day, in memory of the pride we felt in our Israeliness, in memory of the days when we did not have ‘traitors’, in memory of the academic freedom in universities that had ethics but did not have disciplinary regulations, in memory of freedom of creativity, in memory of artistic freedom, in memory of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, in memory of the justice system – in memory of democracy.’"
– Rachel Elior
0202 Editor’s Note:
 Binyamin Netanyahu published a Facebook post in which he claimed the New Israel Fund’s pressure on Rwanda forced him to seek other solutions for tens of thousands of asylum seekers Israel is looking to deport. Netanyahu provided no proof of the NGO’s involvement in Rwanda’s alleged dissolving of its agreement with Israel, which led to a new short-lived agreement with the UN’s refugee agency.
 ‘Hilltop Youth’ – is a term commonly used to refer to hard-line, religious-nationalist youth who establish outposts without an Israeli legal basis in the West Bank.
‘Price Tag’ – is a term for acts of vandalism by Jewish fundamentalist settler youths, aimed at the Palestinian population, Christians, left-wing Israeli Jews, Arab–Israelis, and the Israeli security forces. These actions, in which the phrase "price tag" appeared in graffiti, began in 2008.
Im Tirtzu – is a Zionist non-governmental organization that claims to "strengthen and advance the values of Zionism in Israel" and is dedicated to shedding light on "the campaign of delegitimization against the State of Israel”.
Lehava – meaning ember or flame in Hebrew, is a far-right Jewish organization opposed to the assimilation of Jews, particularly the marginal phenomenon of Jewish girls marrying into Arab families.
‘March of the Flags’ – a controversial march where tens of thousands of people march around the Old City, waving flags at the annual Jerusalem Day parade celebrating the ‘reunification’ of Jerusalem during the 1967 Six Day War.
 Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and murdered on July 2nd 2014 by fundamentalist Israeli settlers as revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. The Dawabsheh family home in the village of Duma was firebombed by two extremist Israeli settlers in July 2015. The firebombing caused the death of 18 month old Ali Dawabsheh who was burned alive in the fire, and his parents who died from their injuries within a few weeks.
 Some controversial Jewish right wing religious and political groups are invested in the reconstruction of the Temple as well as performing Temple-related ceremonies.
 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the 70th Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony but will not give a speech. Netanyahu's decision to attend came after a public spat between Culture Minister Miri Regev and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, with the former wishing for the Prime Minister to attend along with President Reuven Rivlin and the latter threatening to boycott the ceremony if that happens.
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