4th of July, with a cast of thousands: Dan, Bibi, Ruvi and Yale Whiffenpoofs

4th of July, with a cast of thousands: Dan, Bibi, Ruvi and Yale Whiffenpoofs

Here are my impressions of the 239th Independence Day celebrations hosted by American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro at his residence overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This is the 3rd time I’ve gone to one of these occasions; it’s like a madhouse, but I don’t regret it.  This is a sample from my long piece in The Times of Israel:

.   .  . Ambassador Shapiro spoke about the unshakable American-Israeli alliance and the American commitment to Israel’s security, while emphasizing the landmark decisions that the U.S. Supreme Court had reached the previous week on the legality of the Affordable Care Act and Same-Sex marriage, and he  thanked Canadian Ambassador for “allowing” the Americans to hold their holiday on July 1st, Canada Day. The Ambassador also emphasized America’s commitment to help promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace based upon a two-state solution.  Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was sitting next to the Ambassador, at that point nodded his head as if in agreement with the idea.   However, when it came his time to speak, the idea of a two-state solution was nowhere to be seen or heard, only talk about the threats on the horizon from Iran and the Islamic State.

I was particularly impressed by the presentation by Israeli President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, who received a much warmer welcome from the audience of diplomats and Israelis than did the Prime Minister, who only received a smattering of applause.  Rivlin made the usual salutations at the start to the personalities present, and as an expression of his commitment to the importance of Israel’s democratic institutions and to the Knesset in particular, I was struck by the fact that after noting the names of Ambassador Shapiro and the Prime Minister, he greeted MK Isaac Herzog as Head of the Opposition, before greeting IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot. Rivlin then decribed how he was inspired by America in our youth, mentioning John Wayne, Gary Cooper (High Noon?), Rita Hayworth and Marlon Brando (though I noticed that Marilyn Monroe was missing from his list). He also related how he had recently been in Selma Alabama, and described how meaningful the image of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel  walking across the bridge arm in arm back in 1965 was to him, while quoting one of Rabbi Heschel’s comments about what it means to be human.

Rivlin’s Ramadan message of hope

Rivlin made a special point of issuing a warm greeting to the Muslims present and in the region in general who are marking the holy month of Ramadan. He expressed the hope that Ramadan would become a symbol of love, peace and harmony for the Arab world and for all.

And Netanyahu?  Rather than speaking about how the American’s have inspired us, he spoke about how Moses inspired the founding fathers of America 239 years ago. And about how we, Israel and America must and will stand together against the dangers swirling around us.  As for hope and inspiration about the future?  That would require another speaker, or another PM.

It was Shapiro, and not Netanyahu, who made the following comments about how  “our founders were deeply influenced by Jewish tradition.  The pursuit of happiness (as defined in the Constitution) is closely connected to things often singled out in Jewish texts for pursuit: Justice – Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof; and Peace: Bakesh Shalom v’Rodfeihu.”  .   .  .

To get a more detailed sense of the chaotic and fascinating scene, read my “Notes from July 4th at the American Ambassador’s Residence in Tel Aviv.”
By | 2015-07-05T15:17:04-04:00 July 5th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

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