More than 5,000 soldiers were treated to a “Fun Day” at Israel’s largest water park Thursday through the cooperation and funding of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) and the military.
There are 6,073 Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF today, and about 800 of them are American.
Native-born Israelis usually enlist in the IDF at the age of 18, but there are approximately 200 Lone Soldiers from around the world who decided to enlist at the age of 26 and above.
FIDF supports lone soldiers financially, socially, and emotionally and sponsors flights for them to visit their families and friends in their countries of origin.
The Fun Day at the Shefayim Water Park north of Tel Aviv benefited Lone Soldiers from all IDF units and featured a pool party with leading Israeli DJ Eran Barnea, gift care packages, an all-day smorgasbord of barbeque and desserts and a concert by the band Hatikvah 6.
High-ranking officers also attended the festivities.
“FIDF supporters have made it their goal to serve as the adoptive family for all Lone Soldiers serving in the IDF. This special day saluted them – and offered a brief respite,” said FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov is determined to ensure the loyalty of judges in the State of Israel. He declared Thursday after his selection to the committee to select judges for the secular courts that “anyone who refuses to sing ‘Hatikva’ is unfit to serve as a judge.”
Ilatov’s appointment to the committee comes as part of a coalition deal with the party.
“In my view, a judge who is unwilling to sing Hatikva cannot be a judge in the State of Israel, which is the nation state of the Jewish people,” Ilatov said in an interview with Galei Tzahal Army Radio on Thursday.
“I have no problem with those who have already been appointed to the bench. I will not appoint someone who on principle is opposed to the idea of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. I don’t need to aid and abet this. So we will have an Arab judge who sings Hatikva. What’s the problem?”
The issue came to the public eye following an incident in which Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran refused to sing the national anthem during his own swearing-in ceremony.
Justice Minister and MK Ayelet Shaked of the Bayit Yehudi party was diplomatic in her response to Ilatov’s remarks when asked about his position in a follow-up interview on Galei Tzahal Army Radio, but did not endorse the hard line.
“Yes, there was the episode with Salim Jubran,” Shaked said. “There are many excellent Arab judges in the judicial system. A judge needs to stand during the national anthem, but I won’t be looking to see if he is mouthing the words to Hatikva or not. A judge needs to be selected first and foremost according to skills and criteria,” she said.
Shaked added that it is important to have Arab judges in a nation with a 20 percent minority.
The spiritual leader of the Shas Sephardi Haredi party told party supporters Sunday night that the “HaTikvah” national anthem is “stupid,” reported the Walla! website, which also provided an audio of the rabbi’s remarks.
Rabbi Shlomo Cohen’s aides defended the observation he made when describing a meeting with Shas’ founder and late spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 1955.
Rabbi Yitzchak Nissim had been appointed Chief Sephardic Rabbi at the time, and Rabbi Cohen said people stood up and started singing HaTikvah at the end of the inaugural ceremony.
Rabbi Cohen told listeners at Netivot that he said at the time, “What a bunch of nuts! Is this the Prime Minister?” He said he did not stand and asked Rabbi Yosef why he stood. Rabbi Yosef replied, “I was saying “Aleinu,” the prayer recited while standing at the end of morning, afternoon and evening prayers.
Rabbi Cohen explained that the Rabbi Yosef “didn’t want this ridiculous song to influence him.”
That shows the difference between Rav Ovadia – who had the good sense not to insult the majority of Israelis, religious as well as secular – and Rabbi Cohen, who does not have the sense to shut up.
Rabbi Shimon Baadnie, a member of the Shas Council of Sages, tried to explain that Rabbi Cohen really did not intend to say that HaTikvah is stupid but that it simply “is sung in a stupid way.”
However, there was no explanation to justify or rationalize Rabbi Cohen’s vicious attack on the national religious community. The good rabbi compared the “knitted kippa” Jewish community with the influence of Amalek, Israel’s eternal enemy.
Shas is stinging from the desertion the influential Sephardi Rabbi Yoram Abergil, who has announced he is supporting the Yachad party led by former Shas leader Eli Yishai.
Here are the words from HaTikvah that Jews all over the world sing and with which Rabbi Baadnie has a problem:
As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope – will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem
Rabbi Baadnie said, “People say words and don’t understand what they mean.’Free in our land.’? Where is our freedom when we have sorrow from Arabs. The People of Israel are not free because Arabs, Americans and Europeans drive us crazy.”
It would have been more impressive if Rabbi Cohen had said something like, “We are not free because the Third Temple has not been built” but how could he think of such a thing with politics on his brain?
Nevertheless, the rabbi is right to a certain extent, but being “right” often is being stupid, even more so than the song may seem to Rabbi Cohen.
That is exactly what Shmira Imber, daughter of HaTikvah composer Naftali Herz Imber, told Walla! in response to Rabbi Cohen’s remarks:
“It is stupid to say that,” she said.
Below is a Barbara Streisand’s rendition of HaTikvah, stupid or not.
Israel set itself up for humiliation last week by staging a visit of the Barcelona soccer team at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield stadium without the playing of the HaTikvah national anthem.
The visit was headlined around the world as another effort by the Peres Peace Center to try to convince itself that the Palestinian Authority really wants co-existence with Israel. The soccer team also played in Bethlehem, where the Palestinian Authority anthem was sung, according to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot newspaper.
Obviously, the Israeli anthem would be sung in Tel Aviv, Israel’s capital according to the entire world outside of Israel, but it was not so obvious to the office of President Shimon Peres and the Foreign Ministry.
Before the game in Tel Aviv, a meeting was held at the stadium, where representatives from other governments said that if the Israeli anthem were to played, then the same honor would have to be extended to the Palestinian Authority , Spain and an autonomous community of Spain, with the official status of a nationality.
“After discussions with the production team and the Foreign Ministry it was said that said it would be unpleasant,” senior officials from the office of President Peres reasoned. After all, playing four anthems would drag things out a bit, so they got by with playing only the Catalan anthem.
But why didn’t the same reasoning apply when the Barcelona team played in Bethlehem?
No one really had an answer for that, but it can be assumed that the Palestinian Authority would have threatened to cancel the soccer team’s visit if anyone had dared even mentioning the word HaTikvah.
Israel, of course, is always ready to make peace, and who needs a Zionist anthem anyway? That would only contradict chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s terms for peace.
So even though organizers had agreed for it to be sung in Tel Aviv and even though singer David D’or was to sing HaTikvah, the announcement arrived that that it was cancelled.
Education Minister Shai Piron, of the Yesh Atid party, was not so condescending and announced that his ministry would not pay its share of 1 million shekels to finance the visit.
“If there is someone whose feelings are hurt hearing the Israeli national anthem, then they shouldn’t come at all,” ministry officials told the newspaper. “It is first-class chutzpah to come to the heart of Tel Aviv and then ask us not to play our anthem. And it is even a greater audacity by the organizers and the people of the Peres Center that they lowered their heads and agreed to it. It’s a scandal that would not have passed quietly in any civilized country. “
Yishai is joined by alternative peace activist Yehuda HaKohen to discuss Israel’s national anthem. Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem is holy, but is it dated? Is the message out of touch? Can Israel become more Jewish while embracing the non-Jewish world?
Sovereign peoples act accordingly, but, “When you have no self-respect, you cannot expect anybody else will respect you,” as Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo noted last year concerning Operation Pillar of Defense.
Why did Israel agree to a cease-fire with Hamas in November? Why did it surrender Joseph’s Tomb in 2000 and destroy Gush Katif in 2005? In present day, why has Israel granted terrorist Samer Issawi early release following a hunger strike?
A common response from supporters of Israel is that these decisions result from pressure by the American government. In response to the Palestinian Authority’s current demand for 120 terrorists to be freed, MK Orit Struck (HaBayit HaYehudi) has made a similar claim.
The assertion of American pressure in these contexts is simultaneously valid, irrelevant, and pernicious. Of course different American governments have pressured Israel—all too successfully—to make decisions that endanger citizens’ lives and betray Judaic duties.
But why has American pressure succeeded? To borrow from the national anthem, it is because Israel does not conduct itself as an am chofshi b’artzenu (free people in our Land). Rabbi Bar-Hayim has described the preoccupation with American pressure as “a remnant of the galut [exile]” and elaborates as follows:
The extent to which the Americans can really influence our actions is in my view almost entirely dependent on ourselves. If we give them the reason to believe…that we can be pressured into doing something, they’ll of course do as they wish to do. If we, however, conduct ourselves in such a way by which we make clear to all and sundry that we’re not about to listen to what anyone has to say about what we should do—but rather we’re going to do what we think we should do—I believe in a very short space of time most of these pressures would cease to exist. (See 1:18:10 here.)
Focus on American pressure is pernicious because it evades from holding Israeli leadership accountable for its failure to protect citizens. This often turns into rationalization by way of “explanation”—the “Bibi’s hands were tied by Obama” sort of mentality. The evasive focus on America then perpetuates a state of affairs where Israelis suffer anxiety about mundane activities like children walking to school and driving in fear of lethal rock attacks.
When Israel decides to be a sovereign country in substance and not just name, these disgusting realities will change. Blaming foreigners, however hostile they may be, yields only further self-delusion and suffering.