Israel’s Big Day, Under Sun and Cloud
JERUSALEM — The paradox that is Israel — wealthy, dynamic and safe, yet mistrusted, condemned and nervous — was on full display on Wednesday as the country mourned its fallen soldiers and began celebrating its 64th Independence Day.
Commentators on the left and the right stuck to their scripts, with the left asserting that the country’s treatment of the Palestinians and its regional saber rattling have made it isolated and stagnant, and the right glorifying Israel’s accomplishments: high-tech innovations, long life expectancies and democracy.
President Shimon Peres, in an interview with the newspaper Maariv, summed up the sense of wonder that has driven Israel’s belief in itself, describing the poor odds of the Zionist militia against the Arab world in 1948.
“Israel, mathematically or tangibly, should not have been established,” he said. “Prior to the War of Independence, there was no chance. We were 650,000, they were 40 million. They had seven armies, we had barely 5,000 soldiers.” He added: “So tangibly we were on the brink of collapse, but we won anyway, thanks to hidden powers. Ever since, for all of my life, I have tried to understand those immeasurable powers.”...
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