Tuesday, April 25, 2023

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: The price Israel pays for its existence
Today is Israel’s Remembrance Day. This is when the nation commemorates all those who have fallen in battle defending it against its attackers, and remembers also all those Israeli civilians who have been murdered by Arab terrorism.

Since the State of Israel was established in 1948, 24,213 men and women have been killed in military service and 4,255 men, women and children have been murdered in terror attacks. To put these losses in proportion, in 1948 Israel had 806,000 people; today, its population is approaching 10 million. In America, the population during that period has risen from around 130 million to 336 million, and in the UK from 50 million to 67 million.

Today is an emotional day for Israel. This morning, when the siren sounded at 1100, traffic in the streets came to a halt and people stood and bowed their heads. Thousands of Israelis have visited the cemeteries to remember slain family members, recite prayers and join in the nation’s collective mourning and respect.

This annual demonstration of solidarity in grief over the dreadful price paid by Israel’s never-ending struggle to survive always generates high emotion. Today, this has been heightened still further by the terrible divisions laid bare during the last four months of uproar over the government’s judicial reform programme — which today also produced a few protests at these most solemn events.

This evening, Israel will pass seamlessly from a day of extreme sadness to the start of Independence Day, when it celebrates the rebirth of the Jewish national home in Israel. For Israelis, rejoicing over that astonishing achievement is necessarily anchored in the awareness that is never far from the surface — that the price they have paid to be citizens of their own country has been agonisingly steep.

That price is still being paid, as Israelis continue to be regularly attacked and murdered and their young conscript soldiers continue to be sent into harm’s way to defend their country against enemies bent upon its extermination.

Far too many in the west, however, get Israel’s unique predicament precisely the wrong way round. Swallowing wholesale the Palestinian Arabs’ propaganda, these westerners fail to acknowledge the Palestinian Arabs’ medieval and Nazi-style Jew-hatred and their true agenda of exterminating Israel. Regarding them ignorantly and wrongly as the displaced rightful inheritors of the land, the west supports and funds them while demonising and delegitimising Israel, whose unique claim to the land is based firmly on historical fact and international law.

Gil Troy: Israel Independence Day: The Phoenix Nation survives, inspires
It’s become fashionable again to question whether Israeli democracy will survive or even whether Israel will survive. Actually, Israel’s 75th-anniversary celebration marks 75 years of pessimists, inside and out, predicting Israel’s demise. Once the ever-dying people, Jews founded an oft-written-off country that keeps defying death and emerging stronger. Our Phoenix Nation often gets knocked down but it comes up again.

Consider Israel’s rise from the ashes of Auschwitz in the 1940s. Zionism, the Jewish national movement to establish a Jewish state and now perfect it, preceded Hitler by decades. Remarkably, in 1945, as World War II ended and Jews realized the Nazis had murdered six million of our people, Zionists refused to despair. Three years later, in 1948, they established a democratic Jewish state, ending centuries of homelessness and persecution.

Canadian human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler recalls learning in the 1940s as a kid that in Jewish history, there are horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened. With Israel’s founding, the inconceivable became possible in good ways too.

How Israel rose from the ashes and became a regional superpower
Before Israel’s declaration of its independence on May 14, 1948 (which falls on April 26 this year by the Hebrew lunar calendar), then-secretary of state George C. Marshall was sure Israel would not last. Marshall threatened to resign if President Harry Truman undertook the grave risk of infuriating the Arab world by backing the Zionists. When Israel’s founding premier, David Ben-Gurion, himself flouting the experts, confidently proclaimed independence and Truman followed, recognizing the state 11 minutes later. Marshall didn’t resign.

The new state had no money, weapons, bullets or oil, only, as Ben-Gurion supposedly retorted, “Hativkah” (hope), the Jewish national anthem. Six Arab armies attacked, triggering Israel’s War of Independence. Ultimately, 6,000 of 600,000 Israelis were killed before the 1949 armistice.

Israel survived and started absorbing the world’s unwanted Jews, including Holocaust survivors and refugees from Arab and Muslim lands. The population doubled within two years, then again by 1963. Ironically, Arab anti-Zionism, which expelled 850,000 Jews from Muslim countries, helped save Israel.

During Israel’s first 25 years, the young nation kept defeating Arab armies and defying the doubters. Especially before Israel’s Six Day victory in 1967, with Egyptians and Syrians vowing to push the Jews into the sea, Israelis specialized in gallows humor: the last Israeli leaving should shut the lights out at the airport, or particularly relevant today, that if the Arabs made peace with us, then they would win because we would kill each other.
Netanyahu calls on all Israelis to unite
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Tuesday for all citizens to “unite and stand as brothers,” speaking in an address at the main state ceremony marking Memorial Day.

“This year, more than ever, on the Memorial Day for the brave of our nation, we will remember that we are brothers: Jews, Druze, Muslims, Bedouin, Christians and Circassians,” said Netanyahu at Memorial Hall atop Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

“Brothers in service, brothers in arms, brothers in blood. This is the true spirit of our people. Together, we will stand as brothers and guarantee our independence from generation to generation. Together we will stand as brothers, and we will bow our heads in endless tribute to the heroism of the fallen,” added the premier.

Netanyahu noted the imperative of retrieving Hamas captives Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who crossed into the Gaza Strip of their own volition in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Both Mengistu and al-Sayed suffer from mental illness.

The prime minister also called to recover the bodies being held by Hamas of two IDF soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in action during “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014.

Memorial Day began on Monday night as a one-minute siren sounded across the country. Commemorations are taking place at 52 military cemeteries and memorial sites on Tuesday.

“The siren that pierced the silence right now, making its way from one end of the land to the next, rattles our souls and makes way for remembrance, which overwhelms us with silence,” said President Isaac Herzog in his speech at the Western Wall memorial ceremony.

“I ask myself, I ask us: What other country in the world has such a special sound? It is the sound of pain and of hope, of grief and of pride. It is the sound of the State of Israel. A sound that calls on us to pause for a moment, to lock in the sanctity, to remember and to connect—together,” the president continued.

Tali Dee: I never thought it would be my family
I thought I understood, but I didn’t understand. And even now I don’t understand – I can’t come to terms with the fact that this is truly my reality. From a family of seven, we became a family of four. It’s impossible to digest. And it’s so scary to be so sad.

I want to jump ahead, to press the fast-forward button on my life, when all this will supposedly be behind me. I am waiting for the day when I will think about Rina and about Maia and about Mummy, and I will be able to breathe. And not cry. But can that be? I know this pain will not go away. That it won’t become easier for me.

I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.

And I always knew that the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day was extreme but strong. Full of power. And now, now I don’t understand how it can be that Independence Day has arrived. I haven’t the strength to celebrate. How do you make this transition from grief to joy?

Rina was so excited about Independence Day. She was responsible for the flag march with her youth group girls in the ceremony, in front of the entire community. She shared the difficulties with us along the way, her concerns and her enthusiasm. But tomorrow I will come to the ceremony at my school, and they will talk about Rina there.

Sometimes what happened to us hits me, and then I can’t function. And then at other times I’m sort of removed from it, not believing that this is really my life. And there is no solace for this. This hole cannot be fixed.

These days, it’s hard to believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Everyone continues. The sun carries on shining, and people post normal statuses about normal things. But I stay behind. I don’t want photos that will document the fact that I’m growing up, but Maia and Rina aren’t. In three years I will be older than Maia. How is this even possible?

Even people who have experienced loss, have not experienced this triple loss at once. And I’m afraid of this loss. Afraid of the longing. Afraid of the sadness. Afraid to give birth without my mother.

I’ve always connected to Memorial Day ceremonies. At least that’s what I thought. That this is how you feel when you connect.
Rabbi Leo Dee to honor Lucy, Rina and Maia at Israel's Independence Day ceremony

Israeli archaeologists recover artifact from ‘The Battle of the 35’
It’s easy for archaeologists to detach themselves from ancient finds, but the discovery of a brass compass from a massacre of 35 Israeli soldiers in 1948 left two researchers feeling like they received a “punch in the stomach.”

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Monday the discovery of the compass from what Israeli history calls “The Battle of the 35” during the War of Independence, known in Hebrew as the story of the Lamed Heh (35 in Hebrew alphabetic numerals).

The story of the compass begins on January 16, 1948, when a convoy of 38 men from the Haganah, the primary paramilitary organization of pre-state Israel, set out to deliver supplies to besieged Jewish communities in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Three men returned early after one sprained an ankle and couldn’t continue.

The convoy was detected by Arabs who cut off the convoy. After an all-day fight, the Jews ran out of ammunition. The Arabs killed and mutilated all 35 people in the convoy. The massacre and mutilation became known in Israeli history as “The Convoy of 35.”

After the war, the bodies were recovered and reburied at the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

The compass, as well as Bren-type machine gun pods, were discovered behind a rock at the top of Battle Hill, which apparently served as a shelter for one of the fighters. Forensic research performed at the Israel Police laboratories concluded that the glass of the compass shattered when it was hit by a bullet.

According to the researchers, the compass belonged to either the platoon’s commander, Capt. Danny Mass, or to one of two scouts, Yitzhak Halevi or Yitzhak Zevuloni.

“This study is a kind of punch in the stomach,” said Eyal Marko of the Antiquities Authority, who discovered the compass with Rafael Lewis from Ashkelon Academic College and the University of Haifa.
Israeli Independence: How Did the Press React in 1948?
On May 14, 1948, as the British Mandate of Palestine came to a close, political representatives of the Jewish community gathered in Tel Aviv to hear David Ben-Gurion proclaim the establishment of the State of Israel and the re-establishment of Jewish independence in the Land of Israel after nearly 2,000 years.

Soon after the declaration of independence, five neighboring Arab armies invaded Israel, forcing the nascent Jewish state to fight for its survival.

How did the international press react to the founding of the State of Israel and the subsequent Arab invasion? Which aspects of Israeli independence did the news focus on, and which aspects did they ignore?

Here’s how the global media reported on Israeli independence in the hours and days following Ben-Gurion’s fateful declaration.

The New York Times Gives Extensive Coverage to Israeli Independence
On May 15, 1948, The New York Times dedicated a large proportion of the first three pages of that day’s newspaper to coverage of the nascent Jewish state.

This included a detailed description of the independence declaration, reports on the Arab invasion (including the bombing of Tel Aviv) and military clashes, accounts of United Nations debates, and news of Jewish celebrations in Israel and the United States. The reports contrasted American recognition of the new Jewish state and British “aloofness” toward it.

In addition, page 2 of that day’s newspaper featured a complete English translation of the Israeli Declaration of Independence.

The Manchester Guardian Focuses on the British Angle
In its coverage of Israeli independence, the Manchester Guardian (now known as The Guardian) focused on the independence ceremony in Tel Aviv, the retreat of British forces, and the effect that the Arab invasion of the nascent Jewish state would have on its borders as set out in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan.

In its lead editorial, The Guardian expressed reserved optimism at the new Israeli state’s ability to instill order in the areas under its jurisdiction and cautioned against Israel taking an offensive military stance that could prolong the war with its Arab neighbors.

However, The Guardian reserved its more biting words for the British Mandate and colonial authorities for letting their vague and hypocritical policies toward both the local Jewish and Arab populations lead to the Mandate’s “ignoble end” and the bloodshed that was currently wracking the region.

UPI Focuses on the Military and Diplomacy
In its May 14 report, the United Press International (UPI) wire service mentioned the independence declaration in passing while focusing heavily on the military and diplomatic fronts.

UPI’s report centered on the heavy fighting in Jerusalem, Israeli and Arab military movements throughout the region, and the retreat of British forces from Palestine. The report also mentioned recent American attempts to delay Israeli independence.

Notably, due to the immediacy of the report, no mention was made of the United States’ recognition of the nascent Jewish state (that occurred at midnight on May 15), with the report concluding that it was unknown what direction the US would take following Israeli independence.

Interestingly, the UPI interspersed some religious sentiment within its report, noting that “The Jewish dream of nearly 2,000 years – a state of their own – came true” and writing that Jewish forces “were in combat with Arab warriors from Dan to Beersheba, the Biblical limits of the Holy Land.”

Israel’s UN envoy walks out of Security Council to protest Memorial Day session
Israel’s envoy to the United Nations walked out of the Security Council and read the names of Israelis killed in the past year to protest the body holding a session critical of Israel on Memorial Day.

The periodic Security Council session on “the Palestinian question” was held at UN headquarters in New York and was led by Russia.

“Today is one of the most sacred days of the year for the State of Israel,” Gilad Erdan said. “We made numerous requests to reschedule today’s debate, describing the deep importance of the day, yet tragically, this council refused to budge.

“Today’s debate has crossed all lines,” he continued. “While Israelis mourn, this council, as usual, will hear more blatant lies condemning the State of Israel and falsely painting it as the root of all the region’s problems.”

Directly addressing Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was leading the session, Erdan asked, “What would you do if this council was convening to single out and condemn the Russian Federation and your soldiers on the 9th of May, on Victory Day over the Nazis?”

Erdan said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s continuation was due to Palestinian obstinance, and accused the Security Council of hypocrisy for focusing on Israel, while ignoring Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.

Erdan read out to the council the names of Israelis killed in the line of service, or in terror attacks, in the past year, ending with the three members of the Dee family who were shot to death in the West Bank earlier this month.

He placed a memorial candle on the table in front of him and walked out of the chamber with the rest of the Israeli delegation.

“I refuse to spend this sacred day listening to lies and condemnation. This debate disgraces the fallen and Israel will not take part in it,” he said.

Late last year, Erdan blasted the UN General Assembly for holding a crucial vote about Israel after the start of Shabbat, when he could not attend.

Israeli wounded in shooting attack in Samaria
A 28-year-old Israeli man was moderately wounded in a shooting attack on Tuesday morning in the Binyamin region of Samaria.

The terror attack occurred on the Route 60 highway at an intersection near the Israeli community of Ofra, located north of Jerusalem.

The victim was among a group of runners participating in an event commemorating fallen soldiers. He was shot in the hand from a passing car.

The Israel Defense Forces said that its personnel had set up roadblocks and opened a manhunt for the terrorists.

Five Israelis were wounded on Monday afternoon when a terrorist drove his vehicle into a crowd near the busy Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

The perpetrator was identified as Hatem Nejima, a 39-year-old Arab Israeli resident of Beit Safafa in eastern Jerusalem. He was shot and killed by a civilian passerby.

An Israeli man in his 60s remained hospitalized on Tuesday in serious condition at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

Israel is currently marking Memorial Day and will in the evening usher in its 75th Independence Day.

The Israel Guys: I BUSTED These Viral “FAKE NEWS” Videos on Twitter and YouTube
On today’s show Josiah destroys fake news videos on social media. The Temple Mount remained closed, even after the end of Ramadan, and an Israel MK torches the BBC over their inconsistent coverage of “settlers” and terrorism.

New Defense Ministry app helps locate graves of IDF fallen soldiers
Just before the Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars, the Defense Ministry presented a new app that will make finding a specific gravesite in one of the military cemeteries easier than ever.

The app is called "Memory Lanes" (Netivei Zikaron) and was presented by the Department for Families, Remembrance and Heritage in the Defense Ministry.

It allows the public to easily locate and navigate to specific grave sites in one of Israel's military cemeteries, some of which cover huge areas, and are not easily accessible or difficult to navigate.

The name of the person whose grave one is looking for can be entered in the search bar and with the click of a button, the user will receive an accessible pedestrian route from the entrance gate of the cemetery to the grave site.

The app will also link to the memory page about the Fallen on the "Yizkor" website, feature appropriate prayers for the dead, and lets one light a virtual candle in memory of a specific person, or a general candle for the memory of all the fallen in Israel's wars.

The app, which was developed by the Defense Ministry's IT and procurement division, will first begin a pilot phase in which only a limited number of cemeteries will be available for navigation.

These are: Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv and the military cemeteries in Haifa, Beersheba, Holon, Netanya, Rishon Lezion, Kiryat Anavim, Nahariya and Petah Tikva.
Sibling of Israeli brothers killed in terror attack marks bar mitzvah at their graves
Tzur Yaniv, whose two brothers were killed earlier this year in a Palestinian terrorist attack, celebrated his bar mitzvah alongside their graves in Jerusalem during Memorial Day on Tuesday.

Hamas member Abdel Fattah Hussein Kharousha shot dead 21-year-old Hallel Menachem Yaniv and 19-year-old Yagel Yaniv while they were driving near Huwara in Samaria on Feb. 26.

Hallel had just completed his military service in the navy, while Yagel was planning to join an elite unit when he was soon conscripted.

Israel Defense Forces troops tracked down and killed Kharousha 10 days later in Jenin, a hotbed of Palestinian terror.

Tzur, 13, marked the rite of passage into adulthood wearing a T-shirt with a drawing of his two slain brothers, flanked by his parents, Shalom and Esti, and sisters Rachel and Kama.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a message to Tzur to mark the occasion.

“We are all brothers. Brothers in pain, brothers in grief and also in joy. Today of all days a young boy from Har Bracha [in Samaria], Tzur Yaniv, the brother of Hallel and Yagel, reached the age of 13—bar mitzvah…. As every bereaved family does, Tzur carries the memory of his loved ones,” wrote the premier.

Families of terror victims mark Israeli Memorial Day

Israeli initiative uses stones to commemorate the fallen
As part of an initiative called 'Stones of the Human Heart,' colored stones adorn the graves of the fallen to support Israel's bereaved families

If walls could talk: The Palace of Nitzanim

Israel Defense Forces: Everyone has Someone to Remember.
In the State of Israel everyone knows someone who has fallen.

Today, all across the country, Israelis gather to memorialize the soldiers who have fallen defending Israel, and the civilians who fell due to acts of terrorism.

May their memory be a blessing

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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