...The cease-fire that took effect at the end of August led the way back to welcome routine. Tens of thousands of reservists returned home and the residents of the south also came back to their kibbutzim, their moshavim, and their towns. At the same time, Israelis started to take down their flags, fold them, and put them away. But why?
17 September '14..
The days of Operation Protective Edge brought out a sense of patriotism in most of us, and it seemed to be everywhere. Many citizens hung the flags they usually keep stored away for Independence Day from their balconies so that passersby would know that the people inside were "proud Israelis."
Local authorities hung the national flag along their communities' main streets and businesses added blue Stars of David to their ads to leave no doubt about their patriotism. Flags even poked out of cars, reminding us all that we are proud Israelis, even when we're stuck in traffic jams on the road to Jerusalem in the summer heat.
An Israeli flag waving in the wind was the symbol of an impressive -- some would say unusual -- rally in which one group of citizens showed solidarity with another. There is no Israeli who didn't encounter a project to collect underwear or socks for the soldiers at the front. Tons of supplies were loaded onto trucks and sent south. It seemed that even the soldiers didn't believe their eyes when they saw how much equipment had been donated.
But the solidarity wasn't just with the soldiers, it was with civilian society. Bed and breakfasts in northern Israel provided free accommodation to southerners looking for a break. Residents opened their homes to passersby looking for shelter during a siren, summer camps throughout the country held activities for kids from the besieged south so they could enjoy a bit of summer vacation, and residents of all parts of the nation chose to do their weekend shopping in stores in southern Israel to do their part to help the financial hardship.
And there were a few moments, little ones, that actually encompassed all that is "Israeli" -- tens of thousands of Israelis attended the funerals of two lone soldiers who fell in battle. News broadcasts showed the pictures from the cemeteries and deep inside, we all knew that this was Israeli-ness at its best.
The cease-fire that took effect at the end of August led the way back to welcome routine. Tens of thousands of reservists returned home and the residents of the south also came back to their kibbutzim, their moshavim, and their towns. At the same time, Israelis started to take down their flags, fold them, and put them away.
But why? None of us has become less patriotic since the fighting ended, so why not leave the flags out even when things are back to normal? My advice to us all: Let's hang the flags back up.
Let's put them back so we have a reminder that Israeli society knows days of caring for each other in times of peace, as well. Let's put them back so they're there, outside, in our public sphere, encouraging us toward social solidarity in all aspects of life. Let's put them back so we remember that every child deserves the best education possible, even if they happen to have been born in the country's periphery. Let's bring them back so we remember that we all deserve quality public health care, even if we don't have any money in our pockets. Let's fly the flags as a symbol of the responsibility each one of us carries to make Israeli society better. Let the flags fly so we always remember that we are all Israelis.
My flag has been on the balcony since Independence Day, and it's staying there.
Itai Zilber is a Holon City Council member from the Young Holon party.
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