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Apr 18-20, 2018: Israel turns 70 in May and plans to hold its birthday party in April

ISRAEL - Israel celebrates its 70th birthday well ahead of the May 14 date to avoid a conflict with religious observances that month. A storm centered on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears too slow moving to spoil the party.

A multi-faceted corruption probe hanging over Netanyahu might mean the end of his tenure and jail time.

Israel will also be celebrating U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial present to the country. In December Trump announced that the United States would recognize contested Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In announcing that the U.S. embassy would be moved from Tel Aviv in Israel to the Holy City, Trump reversed nearly seven decades of American foreign policy. The move is scheduled for May 14.

Israel’s independence declaration triggered massive Palestinian dispossession, an aspect of the country’s story that will be widely covered on the May anniversary, which Palestinians mark as Nakba (catastrophe) Day.

Culture Minister Miri Regev plans “70 hours of Israeli festivity that will bring citizens together across the country in varied and joyous events.” The country’s friends will be asked to fund an ambitious party, which features fireworks and cultural events and might include a military parade. Regev restated her desire to bring back the annual Israel Defense Forces military parade, which had been the centerpiece of celebrations during the nation’s first two decades of independence. Military parades were discontinued in 1968 due to their high cost, according to Haaretz, though one more parade was held in 1973 on the 25th Independence Day.

The 70th birthday speeches are likely to echo the bullish tone of a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post about the country’s milestone. It details threats to the country’s survival, with an emphasis on “massive Arab boycotts, large-scale terrorism and 11 wars since 1948.” Despite Israel’s problems, the article continues, the economy has rocketed, and “from having minimal technological capabilities in 1947, today it is a top-five high-tech and cyber power.” Israel is “one of only nine nuclear powers in the world with a reported stockpile of 100-200 atomic bombs. … From having no planes, few tanks and eking out a victory in 1948, it has become the leading military power in the Middle East.”


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