Op-Ed: July 4th: Getting Old Means...
Yonatan SredniYonatan Sredni lives in Israel and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bar Ilan University.
On July 4th the United States of America celebrates its 235th birthday. 235 is a pretty big number. Well, at least compared to 63, the state of Israel's age, it is.
Although I was born and raised in America, I never got a real 'feel' for Independence Day. Sure, I knew the names of the founding fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and could easily identify their faces on the currency, but that was about it.
What did George Washington sound like? At least with Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, you can watch the film of him declaring the state of Israel in 1948. Back in 1776, no such luck.
But what really differentiates the United States of America and Israel is age. If you have a friend with an elderly parent, there is always the awkward stage where you ask how that parent is doing, and you are told, 'Well…' and then there is long pause, 'he's getting older.' The implication is that he is slowing down, not remembering things the way he used to, he sometimes gets confused. It's a sad state.
That's sort of the way I feel about the US. Don't get me wrong, I love America, as much as the next Yankee, but lately I feel that the US has started showing its age.
When President Barack Obama gave his speech on the Middle East, in advance of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit in May, he talked about the 1967 borders. Netanyahu retorted that Israel, "cannot return to indefensible 1967 lines".
Of course much ado was made about Obama's speech and Netanyahu's subsequent applause laden address to Congress. Many, myself included, were critical of Obama's remarks.
But in the greater context of the age of the US, maybe it can simply be chalked up to 'getting up there in years'. What does the USA really remember about safe borders? When was the last war that took place within or on the boundaries of America's soil? The Civil War (1861-1865) maybe? The Mexican-American War (1846-48) before that?
I mean, let's give the US a break. It's been well over a century since they really had to deal with border issues on their own turf. How can we really expect them to identify with the Israeli reality when their neighbors are Canada and Mexico and not Syria and Lebanon.
In Israel, if I want to find out what life was like before the state's Independence, there are many locals to ask. Many Israelis can still recall the joy of Israel's independence in May of 1948. I can't blame Americans that no one is around to give a first hand account of what happened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4th, 1776.
So, maybe we can excuse America. It's been quite a long time since they've had to establish their state and protect their own borders. Maybe it's been so long, they've forgotten what it's like.
American comedian Jeff Foxworthy perhaps said it best. "Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not making fun of old people. In fact I think that's the goal of everybody here tonight. We all want to be an old person someday."
So, happy 235th birthday, America! Israel has quite a ways to go to reach that ripe old age, but we'd certainly like to get there someday.