Israel Independence Day

Today, Israel celebrates its 73rd anniversary. according to the Jewish calendar (5th of Iyar). Unlike last year, no virtual ceremonies this time: things are pretty much full open here now.

Jeff Dunetz has a really nice article about the backstory of how Harry S Truman ended up going against the loudest voices in his own cabinet and giving Israel the nod, then recognizing the state minutes after its proclamation. Below is a photograph of the document to be telegraphed, with the actual name of the new state scribbled in at the last moment.

Martin Kramer explains that Israel was not the only name considered by the Provisional Government: Yehuda (“Judah”), Tziyon (“Zion”), and even “Ever” (“across” [the Jordan River], the root of the word Ivri=Hebrew) were all mulled, as was “Eretz Israel” (“the Land of Israel”). Eventually Yisra’el/”Israel” won out for pragmatic reasons: the derivatives Yisra’eli/”Israeli” and Yisra’elim/”Israelis” did not already have spoken-for meanings in Hebrew. “Yehudim” and Ivrim both mean “Jews” (wherever they live); “Tzionim” means “Zionists” (i.e., Jewish nationalists). “Israelis” could mean citizens of the new state regardless of religion or ethnicity.

Yom Atzma’ut sameach!

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