Israel At 60


Israel, Through the Decades

By J.J. Goldberg

To honor the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, the Forward asked a number of prominent Israelis to reflect on the six decades of history they have lived through. Their narratives provide a fresh, startlingly honest look at the history of the Jewish state, as seen through the eyes of those who lived it and helped to shape it.Read More


Before Independence: The Meaning of a Jewish State

By Leonard Fein

What we knew about Israel back then, in the months before and in the months and early years after, was derived 10% or so from newsreels and 90% from Zionist youth movements, Hebrew schools, now and then a newspaper or a book. The world was different before television, and the first years of television were only a tiny foretaste of what television was to become, with its 24/7 coverage of just about everything. The world was different before the Internet, too. Today Israeli newspapers, frequently updated, are a mere key click away. Israel back then was mostly an imagining, and imagination offers more room for dreams, for milk and honey and utopian speculation or messianic conviction than does insistently graphic depiction.Read More


A Jewish State: ‘Mazel Tov!’

The day has finally arrived, the day that Jews have awaited with such longing in their hearts — a day for which they have waited 2,000 years.Read More


The 1950s: Fighting a War for Survival

By Aryeh Lova Eliav

In the first years after World War II, people around the world wanted nothing more than to recuperate and forget the horrors they had been through. It was an era of consumerism, affluence and good feelings. But in Israel we did not have that luxury. As the war ended, we were moving from one fight into another, even greater, struggle.Read More


The 1960s: The New Israelis

By Mordechai Bar-On

It is sometimes said that the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s passed Israel by because of our special circumstances here. It’s not true. Israel underwent a cultural revolution of its own during that decade. What happened in Israel in the 1960s was a turnabout in the spirit and ethos of Zionism.Read More


The 1970s: The Transformation of Zionism

By Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi and Bernard Avishai 


Israelis are already celebrating their 60th anniversary, recalling the heart-stopping moment in 1948 when a community of 600,000 Hebrew-speaking Jews, the sons and daughters of pioneering Zionists, brought the national home to independence: a state that the United Nations mandated to ingather survivors of death camps and other refugee Jews; a community that immediately found itself fighting a bloody invasion on three fronts. What is not much being recalled, alas, is the main reason the pioneers came in the first place. Their true heirs are now themselves fighting a three-front war, a culture war with urgent political fallout. They could lose it.Read More


The 1970s: Judaism and the Territories

By Debbie Weissman

Charles Dickens might have characterized the 1970s in Israel as both the best of times and the worst of times. Few people could have experienced the decade’s contradictions and paradoxes more acutely than a young, religiously observant immigrant to the Jewish state, as I was. It was the decade in which Israelis began settling into their new role as rulers of the West Bank, and the Palestinians began fighting in earnest. It was a time of social ferment and political change.Read More


The 1980s: Missed Opportunities

By Yossi Beilin

The decade of the 1970s was, for Israel, the era of the Yom Kippur War and the peace with Egypt that came in the war’s wake. The 1990s were the time of the Oslo agreement and the peace with Jordan that followed it. Sandwiched in between, the 1980s were a decade of missed opportunities. Ushered in by the diplomatic radicalism of the Begin-Sharon school, the decade was marked by a continuing political paralysis that resulted from electoral deadlock and the rotating premiership of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir.Read More


The 1990s: The Illusion of Peace

By Nahum Barnea

In the history of the State of Israel, the 1990s were the time of the Palestinians. The decade began with a Palestinian intifada and ended with a second Palestinian intifada, deadlier and more vicious than the first. Between the two waves of violence, Israel was swept like a roller coaster from the heights of euphoria to the depths of despair, from mania to depression, from ornate peace ceremonies on the White House lawn to mass terrorist attacks, from a dangerous rift between left and right to the murder of a prime minister.Read More


The 2000s: Dashed Hopes, New Hopes

By Colette Avital

The most recent decade in Israel’s existence, 1998 to 2008, started with great expectations and ended on a note of sobriety and soul-searching.Read More





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  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
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