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Atlantic Monthly Sidebar

November 1961

Happy Birthday to the State of Israel

by Ephraim Kishon

Israel is a country so tiny that there is no room to write its name on the world map.

It is the only country in the world which is financed by its taxpayers abroad.

It is a country which all the time eats up its inhabitants, and yet does not grow fat.

It is a country of boundless boundaries.

It is a country where mothers learn the mother tongue from their sons.

It is a country where the fathers ate sour grapes, and the children's teeth are excellent.

It is a country where one writes Hebrew, reads English, and speaks Yiddish.

It is a county where everybody has the right to speak his mind, but there is no law forcing anybody to listen.

Return to Flashback: The State of Israel It is the most enlightened country in the region, thanks to the Arabs.

It is a country where all the capital is concentrated in Jewish hands--and there is much grumbling because of this.

It is a country where one can buy anything in the world for his money--except an apartment, which is very expensive.

It is a country where any babe in arms may contradict his papa's political views.

It is a country of elections, but no choice.

It is a country which is an organic part of its trade unions.

It is a country where nobody wants to work, so they build a new town in three days' time and go idle the rest of the week.

It is a country where a slip of paper can move mountains, but all the mountains beget is speeches.

It is a country which produces less than it eats, and yet, of all places, it is here that nobody has ever died of hunger.

It is a country where nobody expects miracles, but everybody takes them for granted.

It is a country where one calls ministers simply "Moishe"--and then almost dies with the excitement of it.

It is the only country in the region whose political regime is the bus cooperative.

It is a country whose survival is permanently endangered, and yet its inhabitants' ulcers are caused by the neighbors from above.

It is a country where every human being is a soldier, and every soldier is a human being.

It is the only country in which I could live. It is my country.

Return to Flashback: The State of Israel


Copyright © 1961 by Ephraim Kishon. All rights reserved.
"Happy Birthday to the State of Israel"
The Atlantic Monthly, November, 1961, issue. Vol. 208, No. 5 (p.92-93).

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