Israel turns 70: dream and reality

In May 1948 David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the founding of the State of Israel with the Declaration of Independence. The 70th anniversary has been overshadowed by the conflict with the Palestinians and domestic problems. Is this the state its founders dreamed of seven decades ago?

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Phileleftheros (CY) /

A powerful state with insecure citizens

Phileleftheros doubts whether Israel is really the state the Jews always dreamed of having:

“Yes, they now have a powerful state with a strong economy. ... They've won wars and defeated countries that are stronger than they are. The population is growing year by year and the country has accomplished much in the areas of healthcare, business and technology. Nevertheless all of these positive factors achieved over many years are becoming blurred in view of the fact that Israel is becoming a country ruled by the army which ignores the law and is indifferent to the death of innocent people. ... The people of Israel live in a climate of uncertainty and fear for their future. This state's strengths are in fact its Achilles' heel.”

Expresso (PT) /

Israel has lost its soul

Commenting in Expresso, journalist Daniel Oliveira is deeply disappointed by developments in Israel:

“This state was born of a dream of freedom and security. That dream was legitimate. ... No state has the natural right to be born. States are validated through wars, crimes and occupations. The problem, however, is what Israel has irrevocably become: the objective of driving the Palestinians out of their land has become part and parcel of the country's identity. The dream of freedom has ended in a xenophobic, militarist and profoundly corrupt state. Israel has lost its own soul. ... Israel is dead. Killed by its walls, its ghettos and its purges. ... Today Israel is one of humanity's biggest disappointments.”

Die Presse (AT) /

Star-crossed birthday celebrations

The context in which the celebrations are taking place is hardly propitious, Die Presse comments:

“The pompous birthday party is taking place against the backdrop of protests by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a debate about the Israeli army's use of violence and fears of an escalation in the Syrian war. The fact that a heated dispute about the celebrations broke out even as they were being prepared reflects the polarisation of the country - where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the pillory over corruption. What's more, a bitter conflict has broken out about who may speak in the Knesset and for how long. Invitations to foreign leaders were first given out and then revoked. And what will happen when the symbolic transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem takes place on May 14 is anyone's guess. Israel's generation of state founders deserves a more dignified atmosphere.”

El País (ES) /

Israelis and Palestinians both need a home

In a speech delivered at an alternative Memorial Day Event and published in El País, writer and peace activist David Grossman makes the case for a peaceful two-state solution:

“What is a home? Home is a place whose walls - borders - are clear and accepted; whose relations with its neighbours have been settled. And we Israelis, even after 70 years - no matter how many words dripping with patriotic honey will be uttered in the coming days - we are not yet there. We are not yet home. Israel was established so that the Jewish people would finally have a home. And now, 70 years later, strong Israel may be a fortress, but it is not yet a home. The solution to the great complexity of Israeli-Palestinian relations can be summed up in one short formula: if the Palestinians don't have a home, the Israelis won't have a home either. The opposite is also true: if Israel will not be a home, then neither will Palestine.”