CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.
CAMERA Fellow Michal Leibowitz.

On May 14, 1948, in the small Tel Aviv Art Museum, the Jewish state of Israel declared its independence. The following day, Israel was attacked on all sides as the armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The intention of the five invading nations was clear. In the Egyptian newspaper “Akhbar al-YomAbd,” the Secretary-General of the Arab League declared: “It will be a war of annihilation. It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.”

The Israeli Declaration of Independence followed the UN’s November 29, 1947Partition Plan (Resolution 181(II)) which aimed to create independent states for both Israel and Palestine. The Jewish residents of British-controlled Mandatory Palestine accepted the plan, while the Arab side rejected it. After many months of fighting, ultimately resulting in several armistice agreements, the fledgling Jewish state survived.

Today, Cardinal for Israel and the Jewish Student Association invite the greater Stanford community to celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday with a celebration of culture through music, food, and fun.

We ask that you recognize that Israel is more than its conflict — it is a country that many Stanford students call home.

The festival we’re hosting is not a political event — inasmuch as any celebration of any state’s independence can be termed apolitical – and we’d like ask that those who might be thinking of protesting reconsider their choice. It’s legitimate to criticize the policies of any country, and within certain frameworks, it’s legal to protest any event. But is protesting a cultural celebration – one meaningful to many in our student body – the way to create a community that embodies Stanford University’s founding values of “intellectual debate, the open exchange of ideas in the service of learning, and the creation of new knowledge?”

In the spirit of Stanford’s founding values, Cardinal for Israel would like to invite any students interested in political dialogue to visit the Florence Moore Lounge on May 23 at 6 p.m. for a roundtable discussion. And we would like to re-invite all students, teachers, faculty, staff, and community members to experience a piece of our culture today, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in White Plaza, as we celebrate Israel’s 68th birthday.

Best wishes,

Michal Leibowitz

Editor’s Note: After the event occurred, Michal submitted the following update:

“Despite our request to the Stanford student body, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tried and failed to disrupt our celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut. The culmination of 2,000 years of Jewish struggle for autonomy, Israeli independence is an occasion for celebration. SJP can never change that, nor can they stop us from celebrating our culture, heritage, and pride.”

Students celebrate Yom Haatzmaut at Stanford University.
Students celebrate Israel’s 68th Yom Ha’atzmaut at Stanford University.

Originally published in the Stanford Daily.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and member of Cardinal for Israel at Stanford University, Michal Leibowitz.

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