Tonight begins Yom HaZikaron -- Memorial Day. It is a day for remembering all those who have fallen for our nation: Those who have fallen in battle, and those who have fallen at the hands of terrorists. A siren will go off at 8 PM, at which point everyone is expected to stand silently; another will go off at 11 AM tomorrow. Public establishments will be closed for the night -- most especially places of recreation such as restaurants and theaters, but even stores. We become a nation in mourning: the deaths touch us all. A formal ceremony will take place on Mt. Herzl at the national cemetery.
This year we will be mourning 22,993-- soldiers who have lost their lives and civilians who have died in terror attacks.
Paula Stern, has a blog, "A Soldier's Mother," and, with great eloquence born of the deepest of feelings, she has written the following -- http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/2011/05/standing-for-fallen.html -- about Yom Hazikaron:
"It is a strange and wonderful thing we do each year as we stop and thank those who gave their lives so that we could live here in this land. We will stand tonight and tomorrow, for those who have fallen. It is the least we can do - and the most. But perhaps in this modern world of hustle and bustle, the greatest thanks we give them is in how we as a society remember them, honor them, and mourn for them.
"It is a good thing that our hearts break this day - it is, I remind myself often, so much of what defines our country. May the defenders of Israel be blessed and those who have fallen forever be remembered not just for their sacrifice, but for who they were in the short time they lived. May they be remembered and honored and may their families know no more sorrow." (Emphasis added)
To which I say Amen!
(With thanks to Israel Matzav for calling my attention to the above.)
The price we pay for living in our land. The ultimate price. Our young people understand this. It is too much already, but we know that we are not yet done...
There seems to be an increase of late in the violence directed at us by Arabs. I mentioned yesterday my need to make decisions about what to write about. Because there is so much to discuss, I don't catalogue every incident of violence. But sometimes I wonder if I should.
Last night, over 1,000 people went to pray at Kever Yosef -- Joseph's Tomb -- outside of Shechem (Nablus) in Samaria; they were accompanied by a substantial IDF guard. The Tomb has a painful history, including the murder of Ben-Yosef Livnat by PA security people a year ago. Last night an Arab shot at a member of the IDF.
Also last night -- in the hours before dawn -- an Arab, apparently in Israel without documentation, hailed a cab. When they arrived at their destination in Kfar Saba (near the Arab city of Kalkilyia), the Arab stabbed driver in his upper body several times, leaving him critically wounded. He did not rob him, which tells us we're looking at terrorism.
Less than a week ago, in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik, an Arab stabbed a yeshiva student.
A common means that Arabs -- especially young Arabs -- use for attacking Jews is stone-throwing. I've written about this with regard to the Mount of Olives cemetery, but it's more pervasive than this. It seems to happen particularly in Judea, in Gush Etzion. Just last Thursday there was such an attack, when a family was driving home to Tekoa, in daylight.
What is regrettable is that such stone throwing is sometimes minimized -- as if it were pebbles being tossed. But we're talking about rocks, chunks of concrete and even bricks that can crash a car windshield, and kill.
In point of fact, Israel is contending right now with a very painful, contentious and messy trial -- taking place at the Ofer Military Court -- that involves death via rock throwing.
Last September, Asher Palmer, of Kiryat Arba, was driving in his car with his baby son, Yonatan, when Arabs hurled a heavy stone through his windshield. It hit him on the head, causing him to lose control of the car. Father and son died in the resultant crash.
It took a while, but ultimately the police determined that this was not simply an accident, but a terror attack. The two Arab men who threw the "stones" were apprehended, and charged, and are now to be tried -- with delays and postponements ensuing.
Asher is an American citizen (the son of Americans) and here, as with the terrorist-generated deaths of other Americans, there is also a US interest in seeing justice done.
Asher's father, Michael, is seen in a video clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebIySofmzho&feature=relmfu .
His final words on this video are that Asher was about "building Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) and the love of the land...and we have to make sure his message keeps going and work harder and harder for it to be realized."
This is noteworthy for two reasons.
First, because it seems typical of so many Israelis who have suffered losses from terrorists. Rather than rage and lament, they work to achieve positive goals in memory of the one who is gone. I am in awe of this.
And then because it makes an exceedingly important point: Whatever I have described about Arab attacks on Jews here in Israel should not in any terms be used to paint Israel as a dangerous or negative place. We here are aware of the possibility of "something" happening, but we proceed with normal life, joyous for being here. And the great majority of the time, nothing happens. I certainly walk the streets of the Jerusalem I love without compunction.
When you love Israel, there is only determination to fight the fight that must be fought, and to make it all that it should be. This is, perhaps, the over-riding theme of Yom HaZikaron. There is no surrender.
In his message for Yom HaZikaron today, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"...our loved ones, who fell in the battles of Israel, did not fall for nothing. Thanks to them, the state was established. Thanks to them, the state of Israel continues to develop and flourish, and thanks to them, the young generation will be able to live their lives in security and peace.
"I can tell you, 'Be comforted, be comforted, my people.' Take comfort in the building of the land, take comfort in the building of Zion, and may you know no more pain." (Emphasis added)
And so, some tentatively good news, which is very relevant:
Yesterday I kept reading in the news that there was nothing the government could do about the demolition of Ulpana, because there was a court order for that demolition and the Civil Administration had promised.
"Come on!" I thought. "What there is genuine determination to accomplish here, can be accomplished," I wrote.
"Can't the government go back to the court and request time to re-evaluate the situation?" I asked of someone with legal expertise. "They can...," was the answer, "if they want to." Ah! I waited, not terribly hopeful.
Now the news is that the Ministerial Committee that was appointed to consider the situation has instructed the prosecutor's office to return to the High Court next week and ask for a delay in the evacuation. During that interim, a special committee will look into the situation, seeking alternate solutions.
This is not a final reprieve for the residents of Ulpana. But it's a step in the right direction. With creative thinking and sincere intent....
This business that the neighborhood "must" be evacuated because it's on "Palestinian" land is maddening. There is no proof of anything of the sort. This is based on a perverse principle that must be re-examined.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.