More than 2,000 Jews from around the world are gathering in Jerusalem this week for the World Zionist Organization's Zionist Congress to mark the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 125th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, marking the first in-person event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like in the First Zionist Congress in 1897, the delegates represent the diversity of the Jewish people, in Israel and the Diaspora. Despite their differences, everyone gathers together for the sake of one common Zionist goal, under the famed blue and white flag.
For me, the Zionist Congress set underway in one particular extraordinary moment, which illuminated the reality of our lives in Israel like a flash of lightning.
During Passover, terrorists murdered Lucy (Lea) Dee and her two daughters, Maia and Rina, while they were on their way to visit family for the holiday. Our hearts ached as we saw the pictures of these three women, and despite not having known them - they are our sisters nonetheless. At the peak of his grief, the family father, Rabbi Leo Dee, made an emotional and noble call to the people of Israel: "I call on you to share the Israeli flag on social media with a positive message. Share with your friends and they'll pass it on. Let's see how many likes it can get."
Our flag got innumerable likes, on Facebook and Twitter, as many bowed to Leo Dee's request. A deluge of Magen David symbols flooded our feeds, and we got some of our holiday spirits back. While this was a small gesture, it was enlightening.
Just before Israel's 75th Independence Day, a battle is being fought over this flag. Two Israeli sectors are pulling at the flag's edges: both claim it to be their own, and both wave it as they march in protests.
In 2023 Israel, the Israeli flag has become a kaleidoscope. Each side sees in it the shimmering shapes which fabricate its dreams. There are those who look at the flag and see a state that they wish upon their children - a liberal, progressive, innovative state, that sees a future full of enlightenment and advancement. And there are others who look at the flag of Israel and see a Magen David which symbolizes the fulfillment of the vision of the prophets, the Holy Land whose purpose is to be a light unto the nations.
We all know what the Mishnah says: when two people hold a tallit, and each one claims that he found it first, the ruling is simple - split it. However, neither the Israeli flag nor the nation of Israel can be split in twine. Therefore, the interpretation of the Mishnah, in this case, should be "split in" an alternative sense of the phrase - continue to split, continue to argue, and continue to discuss - continue to do everything possible to keep the flag intact, without tearing it down the middle.
I full-heartedly believe that the great Zionist mission of our day is to continue to wave our flag, together; to continue to see it as a collective symbol of our collective home; to continue sharing it with whoever agrees with our views, as well as with those who oppose them; to continue believing that there is room for all of us under the Magen David, and that the blue stripes have a bright future ahead, here, in the land of Israel, for the coming 75 years.
Yaakov Hagoel is the Chairperson of the World Zionist Organization