"AROUND US the storm is raging/But our head will not be bowed..." we sang when we were young, before the State of Israel was born.
On the eve of Israel's 65th birthday, this coming Monday, we could sing this rousing song again. And not just out of nostalgia.
Around us, many storms are raging. In Syria, a terrible civil war is tearing the country apart. In Egypt, after the victory of the Arab spring, the country is still in turmoil. The Lebanese state is still unable to impose its authority on the various armed sects, and the same is true for Iraq. Iran is busy advancing its nuclear program, all the while muttering dark threats.
Israel sees itself as an island in the stormy sea, threatened on all sides, ready for the tsunami to hit any minute.
THERE IS something ironic about all this.
The Zionist adventure started with the promise to create a safe haven for the Jews, after centuries of helplessness.
Indeed, stripped of all ideological decorations, that was the central theme of the endeavor. Everywhere, Jews were defenseless, dependent on the mercies of others. Here, in a state of our own, we would be able to defend ourselves, head unbowed.
In other words, for ages we were the object of history, now we were taking our destiny in our own hands, an actor on the stage of history, a nation among the nations.
Before that, Jews were some kind of ethnic-religious entity. With Zionism, the Jews -- or a part of them -- constituted themselves as a modern nation, able to defend itself against any enemy.
In this sense, Zionism was indeed a roaring success. Its creation, the State of Israel, is now strong and secure.
OR IS it? Listening to many of our leaders, the opposite seems to be true.
Years ago, Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the caustic critic of the Zionist establishment, famously asserted that Israel was the only place in the world where the lives of Jews were in mortal danger. As it turned out, that was not entirely exact.
A few days ago, on Holocaust Day, our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, declared that we are threatened by a Second Holocaust, perpetrated by a nuclear-armed Iran.
The next day, a group of international hackers, animated by pro-Palestinian sentiments, declared a cyber-war on Israel. They promised to inactivate the main institutions of the country, both military and civilian, governmental and private. As it turned out, the attack failed miserably. No significant damage was caused. But before this became clear, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded by comparing the campaign with the Nazi Holocaust.
What is this? Paranoia? Manipulation? Political gimmickry? All of these and more?
IN THE span of nine days, Israel is experiencing three national events. Each with sirens howling, official ceremonies, endless speeches. All TV, radio and print media totally devoted to the subject of the day.