Gold medals & Great Britain

On Yom Hashoa, the most oft-posted link I saw was this blog post. It aims to move our story away from the victimization of Jews in the Holocaust and toward their strength, and implies that we’d do well to make this switch in the context of Jewish history overall. I couldn’t help but feel surprised at this post, and its popularity among my friends – I don’t remember ever getting the feeling of being a helpless nation from my family/teachers/leaders. I was a bit bothered by this, thinking, We have our own state! We are free, and secure, and we are awesome! Even Mark Twain thinks so! … because this is the rhetoric to which I am accustomed.

Last week, a co-worker began the trite discussion of Yom Hazikaron vs. Memorial Day. Before I had time to flee, she made a point I had not yet considered: it’s not just the proximity, conscription, and percentages that make Yom Hazikaron what it is; it’s also the fact that we like to see ourselves as victims. After spending all of Yom Hashoa determined to think otherwise, this idea somehow struck a chord.

On Saturday, Alex Shatilov won the gold medal for his floor routine at the European Gymnastics Championships (skip to 00:17:00):

Can we all agree that regardless of how amazing that last tumble pass is, this just does not compare to women’s gymnastics?

This is of course very exciting, and upon reading news this I immediately opened youtube and watched a bunch of routines continued preparing a report for work. And then I skipped to the awards ceremony (minute 44), where I intended to proudly watch the flag being raised and hear Hatikva being played.

Now it turns out that Alex Shatilov actually tied for gold – which JPost failed to mention – with Max Whitlock from Great Britain. So before Hatikva, “God Save the Queen” began to play. As I listened, I was struck by how regal, how proud it sounded. And then Hatikva began to play, and it dawned on me – our anthem sounds like the soundtrack to a Holocaust movie. Listen to it. It just… does.

Have we really set ourselves up to be victims? Do we need it? And why? With all due respect, do we need a new national anthem?

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