Our Courageous Normalcy
David Lazarus

For seventy years Israel has been fighting for her survival, and yet we still find time to boycott the price of cottage cheese, our teachers strike for better salaries and educational opportunities for our children, and tent cities regularly sprout up all over Israel in protest of the lack of affordable housing. Where do the Israelis find the courage to maintain a "normal" life amidst the daily struggle for survival?

The development of a normalized society in Israel cannot be explained by our confidence in the strength of our army, even after winning five major wars against all other Arab nations. Nor can it be attributed to our ability to withstand unending terrorism these seven decades. Peace and security for us is not a lack of conflict. Rather it is the heroic ability to maintain our routines while under fire. 
Israeli Humor
Still laughing at ourselves after all these years

For us normal is days filled with activities providing the resources we need to face the challenges. When our children keep getting on buses to school under the threat of a suicide bomber, they are acquiring the knowledge and skills that will one day make them better soldiers, more successful employees, and wiser, better, and more committed citizens. When a coffee shop reopens its doors just hours after a murderous bloody terror attack, they grow an economy whose robustness helps keep us alive. Israelis have stood up to these tests during each of the past seven decades not only because of a strong military at the front and in the homeland, but because through each and every devastating trauma we refuse to allow ourselves to panic, or stagnate, but press on to live humanely, developing ourselves, our communities, and our society in ways that make our country stronger day by day.

A Precious Asset

It is the morale of our citizens in the face of growing threats that is Israel's most precious asset. Maintaining routines in the face of constant bombardment, Israelis are returning fire by striking a blow at the confidence and morale of the terrorists and their naysayers. The pictures of regular daily life resuming within minutes of a missile attack must make those who hate us feel just as impotent as they do when they see their rockets shot down by Iron Dome. And when we respond to hatred and violence with calm resolve and an inspiration to improve ourselves, it puts our enemies to shame and encourages us to endure today's conflict as well as those will face in the months and years ahead.

Our collective memory as a people who have endured through the ages plays a crucial role in this courageous psyche of the Israeli people. As a Jewish Israeli man, the idea of defense is one of the most basic foundations and core values of my people. Our history as a nation, the biblical generations of persecutions and pogroms, reaching their peak in the Holocaust and the near annihilation of the Jewish people, are a spark that ignites our fervor to succeed. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which followed World War II, has inscribed within our communal souls the need to outlast our enemies, far and near, that continue to resist the idea of a Jewish nation.

The Glory of Israel

But the glory of Israel goes far beyond our ability to survive. It is our story as a chosen people going back to our father Abraham that gives us the reason to survive; to be a people of significance. What is truly remarkable about our nation now 70 years on, is that against all odds, in the midst of ongoing existential threats, global condemnations, and the never ending inconsolable grief for our fallen loved ones, we still find time to argue about what it means to be a charitable Jew, a moral soldier and an honest citizen, while fighting over the price of cottage cheese.