By Deputy Ambassador, Eitan Na’eh,
“All the deeds of men are only dreams at first,” wrote Theodor Herzl, the founding father of modern Zionism, in his book Altneuland. Israel is indeed a long dream come true, worthy of special celebration.
This year we, at the Embassy, wanted to mark Yom Ha’atzma’ut in a different way. Rather than concentrate our celebrations in London as in previous years, we teamed up with our Honorary Consuls and Directors of Israel Information Centres across the country to host official Independence Day receptions in Cardiff, Manchester, and Edinburgh, and celebrate Israel’s birth with our friends throughout Britain.
Our diplomats spent last week travelling the country, holding meetings with local Jewish leaders and “Friends of Israel” groups, and taking part in some of the Jewish community’s events as well.
Our celebrations brought many memorable and exciting moments: the moving “torch lighting” ceremony in Manchester; the “Hora” dance in Wales with the Lord Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant, representing HM the Queen; the moving speech by Ken Macintosh MSP at our Holyrood reception where, for the first time, Hatikva was sung inside the Scottish Parliament.
These receptions gave friends of Israel from every sector of British society, the opportunity to come together and show their support: Government ministers, Peers of the Realm, Members of Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, and the Welsh Assembly, mayors, local councillors, leaders of faith communities, heads of civil society organisations, ambassadors and diplomats, eminent figures in business, academia, and the media, together with members and leaders of the Jewish community.
This experience made us feel very strongly about the special connection that binds us all together: the love, respect, and admiration for all that Israel has achieved in its 67 years of independence, and the need to defend our shared value system, especially in these difficult times.
Celebrating this day together with friends all over the country enhanced our pride in who we are and what Israel is standing for.
Celebrating with us, the independence of a democratic, vibrant, vital, innovative, successful Israel.
An Israel that, while dealing with the challenges with which our complex reality presents us, and defending its citizens from enemies near and far, is at the same time building its society, further developing its high-tech based economy, and expanding its rich and diverse culture.
Coming back to London, my colleagues and I took this with us: in spite of the growing challenges we face, Israel has many friends in this country. It is high time therefore we all speak up and step up our efforts to support and celebrate, in words and deeds, the Israel that we love.