Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Yom Hazikaron

Tuesday evening starts Memorial Day for the fallen in Israel's wars (Yom Hazikaron), always the day before Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut). This year Naomi and I were asked to go to the ceremony at the local branch of Yad l'banim, the memorial to the sons/daughters (this is not to be confused with labanim, which means white) to represent the Netanya AACI (Assoc. of Americans & Canadians in Israel). These memorial branches are to be found in every town and location in Israel, and they contain information about those from that locality who died in the wars.
The ceremony was held in an amphitheater in the open and the audience was about 1,000 people. A siren sounded at 8 pm and everybody stood to attention. There were soldiers there at attention all the time during the ceremony. While the ceremony was going on a screen on the roof of the building flashed the names and information of those from Netanya killed in the wars. The ages varied from 17 to 60, and included women and some black Ethiopians.
This past year 132 Israelis were killed in service to the country. The total number of soldiers killed defending the country since 1860 (the year Jews left the Old City of Jerusalem to establish other settlements) until today is 22,437! This number is known quite accurately, and is a huge number for such a small country. But it pales in comparison to the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust of WWII. So apparently it is better to have arms and an army to protect the civilian population from determined enemies. Since 1948 1,634 civilians have been killed in Israel. There is no doubt that the PLO and its more extreme rival Hamas, would slaughter Jewish civilians if they could. Their use of terrorism and random rockets fired into civilian areas is but a small manifestation of their desire to destroy the State of Israel and its inhabitants.
The Mayor of Netanya and the son of a soldier who was killed gave speeches. A small orchestra played and torches were lit. Wreaths were laid, and we laid a wreath on behalf of AACI, the major English-speaking organization in Netanya. It was a well organized and very moving ceremony.


Post a Comment

<< Home