Libertarian Ambivalence on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day

Last year I wrote this post on Times of Israel entitled “Why I do not celebrate the birth of the State of Israel”, though I do celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence day. I went through all the reasons I hate the institution of the State, and ended with this:

I do not celebrate the birth of the State of Israel because I despise it. There is nothing it does or provides that free independent Jews couldn’t provide better and more efficiently. I wish the State would go away and let private Jews protect themselves and organize their lives based on voluntary agreements. All the politics about whose money goes which way would vanish and we could stop all the infighting. Life would finally be peaceful.

So what, then, am I celebrating? I am celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut. Independence Day. Today is not Yom Medinat Yisrael. Today is Yom HaAtzmaut. I am celebrating the fact that I am free from the British State which harassed Jews much more. This is indeed something to celebrate. I am not yet free, however, from the Jewish State. But God willing, soon, I will be.

This year it’s still harder to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut. I suspect it will get harder and harder as the State gets bigger and bigger. It’s hard because while I know that I celebrate Jewish independence from Britain, I also know that everyone else is indeed celebrating the institution of the State itself. So it feels really awkward to be celebrating together with people who are celebrating something I hate.

Not that I’m the only one who’s ambivalent. Everyone else is, too, because when it comes down to it, they all hate the State as well. They just don’t want to come out and say it as honestly as I do, because they don’t want to sound like “anarchists” or some other scary word.

Last night it was especially evident. I’m in Zichron Ya’akov now visiting my brother and his family, who just moved back to Israel after 15 years. We ended up going to a house of a bunch of hippieish modernistic Jews, like the kind I used to hang out with in America. The Dvar Torah at the end of the service was, essentially, in so many words, something along the lines of “Even though we all hate the State and the people in charge are disgusting, we still have to celebrate it because Rav Nachman says everything will be good eventually.”

No, he did not say it that way exactly, but that was the message. It was more diplomatic of course, like “Even though there is a lot to fix in the State, it will all be better at some point.” The point is it started off conceding that there are a lot of problems. Generally, Jewish holidays don’t start off on that kind of negative.

Like, take Chanukah. The geulah, redemption, was not complete, but we only say that at the end. And Purim. Same thing, but we only say that the redemption was not complete at the end. Even Pesach, very happy, but we remind ourselves at the end that 80% of the Israelites did not make it out of Egypt alive. Footnote. But Yom HaAtzmaut, everyone knows there’s something seriously wrong here, right out in the open, and it feels disgusting for everyone to celebrate a political institution, and that awkward feeling everyone has needs to be addressed immediately. It has to be said at the beginning, because nobody feels completely right about this.

With other Jewish holidays, the celebration is obvious, we just have to remind ourselves that it’s not completely happy yet. With Yom HaAtzmaut, we have to remind ourselves that things aren’t completely horrible, and there is still something to celebrate about this.

Which is essentially what I say, but without dressing it up in qualifiers and watered-down language.

I was sitting next to my brother in the back who, it is publicly known so it’s not loshon harah, does not believe in the narrative of the Exodus as historical. So the ultimate irony hit me. Here’s what I told him.

“So, you don’t believe in the Biblical God and I don’t believe in the State, and here we are thanking God for the State.”

And we both cracked up.

On Yom HaAtzmaut, I say Hallel, with a bracha, but I can no longer do it in a minyan, because they say Hallel for the State, and I say it in spite of the State. So from now on, I daven alone on Yom HaAtzmaut.

If there are any Jewish libertarians out there anywhere in the world, male or female, who celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut but not the State of Israel, then let’s make a minyan (egalitarian even, if we can’t scrape up the male numbers) and do Hallel, through Skype, through whatever.


4 thoughts on “Libertarian Ambivalence on Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day

  1. 1) The position of the Jewish people is, by any rational or intelligible measure, much better than it was after the events of Purim or Hanukah and, not only that, so is the governance of the Jewish people.

    2) The government of Israel is flawed in many ways, the fact that the Kenesset finance committee has just been handed out to Haredi ganavim is just item #598508. Nevertheless, Israel is by the standards of the world a pretty peaceable and prosperous place. Moreover there are certain specific advantages that Israel has, not least that he government of Israel is not actively conspiring to destroy the well-being of its citizens by inviting third world dysfunctionals to colonize them, as most western elites are doing (whilst being cheered on by dimwit “libertarians” who are too thick to understand Hoppe’s conclusive arguments on this matter).

    3) It follows that if people think Hanukah can be celebrated in a more uncomplicated manner than Yom Ha’atzmaut, it is simply because they believe in some fairy tale version of history and/or are too lacking in the basic midah of hacarat hatov to realise how much the position of the Jewish people has changed for the better.

    4) Hallel is said on Yom Ha’atzmaut because of the military victory, just like on Hanukah.

    5) The Torah explicitly commands us to have a state, deal with it.

    • 1) By ANY rational or intelligible measure? Wow, you really covered all of the measures very quickly.
      2) I don’t go by the “standards of the world”. I don’t know what the standards of the world are. I go by my own standards.
      3) I don’t understand this point or who you are criticizing. Me, or those who believe in a fairy tale version of Hanukah? The position of the Jewish people has certainly changed for the better. The existence of the State only lessens the change for the better.
      4) Yes, technically, halachically, sure. But I can tell what people are saying hallel for. They’re saying it for the State. It’s pretty clear. THey’re not “supposed” to, but that’s what they’re doing, so I don’t want to say it with them.
      5) Do you imagine that saying categorical statements about what the “Torah explicitly commmands” has any meaning to me, or at all? That is the haredi equivalent of a “nanny nanny boo boo.” Well…my spirited comeback to that is neener neener neener. Explicitly commanded. So there.

      • 1) In what sense are the Jewish people not better off, or, more pertinently, better governed, than after the events of Chanukah or Purim?

        3) The creation of the state lessens that change for the better compared to …. what? Compared to the realisation of a political system that has never been implemented anywhere in the world, which has the support of, at most, 0.01% of the world’s population, which has only been theorised over the past 150 years, which may or may not work well in practice, and which will almost certainly never happen in any case? Boo hoo.

        5) Pointing out that the creator of the universe commands us to have a state is not actually the same as saying “nanny nanny boo boo”.

        וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים, וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ

        There are plenty of other proof texts, but in reality it’s too obvious to even discuss. The Torah is the book of laws for a state, if you have some objection to that you have an objection to the Torah in its entirety, in which case why bother discussing whether to say Hallel or not?

  2. We resolved to make a Skype minyan when we moved from Atlanta to west Georgia (out of Shabbos walking distance) and were celebrating Simchat Torah. So I think you can count us in (minus me if you don’t include women). Not that we’re against Israel, but Skype minyan with others that want to sounds good.

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