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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Independence Day’

PM Netanyahu’s Independence Day Message (+Video)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Israel’s Independence Day is a time for celebration. And for justified pride in Israel’s many amazing successes.

For some two millennia the Jewish people had been stateless and powerless, and, of course, defenseless in the face of its enemies. After 2000 years of exile we returned to our historic homeland to re-establish our independence and sovereignty.

Yet we didn’t only create a state.

We have ingathered into our homeland a people that had been scattered around the globe.

We have defended ourselves against the attacks of hostile neighbors, overcoming threats faced by no other country.

We have built a vibrant democracy in which freedom is sacrosanct, guaranteeing equality under the law and the rights of every citizen. We have created a robust economy, a global technological superpower.

We have signed peace treaties with two of our Arab neighbors, while we quietly talk with many more.

And while doing all this we have enjoyed the passionate friendship of so many around the world. Jews and non-Jews alike have united to speak out for Israel’s right to security and a peaceful future.

This support from our friends, together with Israel’s vibrant democracy, free economy, strong army and commitment to our shared values, form the foundation of our national strength.

So on this 66th Independence Day, I want to thank Israel’s many friends around the globe for their steadfast support for the one and only Jewish state.

And I would like to send special greetings to our special friends who have gathered at Phillips Square in Montreal to celebrate with us. Your show of support for Israel today reflects the strong friendship shared by the Israeli and Canadian peoples. The bond between us was strengthened even further this past January when I had the pleasure of hosting my friend Prime Minister Harper here in Jerusalem.

On behalf of the people of Israel, thank you all for your friendship and for your support.

Thousands of Israelis Usher In Yom HaAtzma’ut

Monday, May 5th, 2014

At community centers, public parks, city squares, and in private homes, Israelis returned the national flag to full staff as darkness fell tonight, marking the end of Yom HaZikaron and ushering in the Yom HaAtzma’ut (Independence Day) holiday.

In addition, thousands of Israelis attended festive synagogue services as day turned to night. A variety of religious customs have developed to mark the day when Jewish sovereignty returned to the Land of Israel, including celebratory Shofar blasts to conclude services tonight and the recitation of the Hallel prayer tomorrow morning.

For the first time, Reform Jews in Israel have followed suit and have moved to invest Yom HaAtzma’ut with religious meaning: “Rabbi” Gilad Kariv, director of the Reform movement in Israel, said Reform congregations would conduct “havdalah” services tonight to mark the transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzma’ut. Reform cantors will also perform operatic renditions of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

Speaking at a Yom HaZikaron ceremony this morning, President Shimon Peres said Israel is “a wonder to the world,” and predicted the country is on “a runway to a greater future for the next generation.”

Peres then repeated the prayer of every Israeli for peace, but re-iterated that the country must still live by the sword.

“The battle is not over, we have not reached our goals,” Peres said.

With the onset of the holiday, downtown Jerusaelem came to a halt, as tens of thousands of revellers welcomed the holiday in bars, restaurants, open-air cafes and public spaces. As in previous years, rowdy teenagers – and more than a few young-at-heart adults – banged plastic hammers on the heads of strangers and sprayed silly string at passers-by.

Tomorrow, on Yom HaAtzma’ut, police expect heavy traffic on roads around the country as Israelis celebrate a rare non-religious holiday. With temperatures above 30 degrees Centigrade (86 Farenheit) expected around the country, beaches, national parks, tourist sites and natural springs are expected to be packed to capacity by the mid-morning hours.

What is the Link between 17th of Tammuz, July 4th and Lincoln?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

A rabbi delivering a Shabbat sermon on the coincidental dates of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fourth of July in 1863 used the phrase “four score and seven years ago” before Abraham Lincoln made it famous, according to an historian.

British Prof. Marc Saperstein, who is a visiting professor of Judaic Studies at Yale, wrote in the Huffington Post  Wednesday that Rabbi Sabato Morais delivered his message in Philadelphia after the Battle of Gettysburg was fought but before its outcome was known.

“His sermon contains a phrase that might well have influenced the most celebrated speech in American history,” according to Prof. Saperstein.

The Fourth of July usually falls during the three-week period when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. On an average of about once every 10 years or so, Independence Day falls on the first day of the three weeks, the Fast Day of the 17th day of Tammuz and which also was on the Sabbath in 1863.

Without knowing whether the Confederate army had won in Gettysburg , a victory that would have allowed it to threaten Philadelphia, Rabbi Morais said in his sermon that he was asked to refer to Independence Day.

However, since it was the 17th day of Tammuz, even though the fast is postponed because of the Sabbath, Rabbi Morais explained he could not deliver an encouraging address that was recommended by the Union League. It suggested that clergy quote the uplifting verse form Leviticus that is inscribe on the Liberty Bell: “”Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Instead, the rabbi chose the lament from King Hezekiah in Isaiah, “This is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and derision,” which he also meant as a reference to the Battle of Gettysburg before knowing the Union forces had won.

Rabbi Morais made sure to refer to Independence Day, 87 years after the United States was founded. “’I am not indifferent, my dear friends, to the event, which four score and seven years ago, brought to this new world light and joy,” he said in his sermon.

The King James translation of Psalms 90:10 translates a Hebrew in the psalm as “threescore and ten.”

Prof. Saperstein  explained that when Abraham Lincoln spoke to a small group of people three days later, he said that it was “eighty odd years” since the founding of the United States.

The professor wrote,  “Needless to say, some three months later, for the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, Abraham Lincoln elevated the level of his discourse from ‘eighty odd years’ to “four score and seven years, our fathers brought forth to this continent,” possibly borrowing from the published text by the Philadelphia Sephardic preacher who, without knowing it, may have made a lasting contribution to American rhetorical history.”

July 4, Day of Operation Entebbe, Israel Upgrades Uganda Airport

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

An Israeli firm won a contract this week to upgrade systems at Uganda’s Entebbe airport, where a daring IDF mission on July 4, 1976, rescued 105 hostages from a hijacked airplane

Trilogical Technologies won the bid to integrate and implement systems that cover manpower, vehicle and equipment serving the airport’s ground services,  according to Israel Defense.

It said Trilogical’s software and hardware products will be integrated for management of existing resources  and carrying out missions in its airspace. Its computer system will be installed for the first time in Entebbe’s luggage, passenger and maintenance departments.

Ironically, the control systems will be installed “for control and warning in the event of operational or security irregularities” according to the report.

“There is a great deal of symbolism in the date when we are beginning the project,” said Trilogical CEO Erez Lorber.

The ability of the Israeli commandos to land at the airport without being detected was the key to its success, which was marred by the death of the commander of Operation Entebbe, Col. Yoni Netanyahu, brother of the prime minister.

One of the officers on the mission, a neighbor of mine, recently told me that almost no one in the hand-picked units believed that they would take off for the rescue operation because the scheme was “beyond imagination.”

The hostage crisis began on June 27 when Arab terrorists, helped by a German revolutionary cell, hijacked an Air France plane en route from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens and demanded the release of prisoners in Israel in return for releasing the Israeli hostages.

After a week of planning, Operation Entebbe began on July and lasted approximately one hour. Besides the death of Netanyahu, five commandos suffered injuries and three hostages were killed.

The commandos landed in the dark of night, killed 45 Ugandan soldiers and destroyed 30 Soviet-built MiGs to prevent them from being used against the Israeli force.

Israeli firms had helped build the Entebbe airport, and their possession of blueprints of the facility was crucial towards the operation’s success.

When the Israeli planes, a cargo plane rolled out a black Mercedes that was a duplicate of Uganda President Idi Amin’s vehicle.

The element of surprise enabled the commandos to eliminate opposition forces and rescue the hostages, except for two who were killed by IDF fire and a third who was caught in crossfire.

The raid has been attributed to putting a stop to the wave of international terrorist hijackings, but United Nations Secretary General at that time, Kurt Waldheim, condemned Israel for “a serious violation of the national sovereignty of a United Nations member state.”

From Joy to Sorrow and Back Again

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

I close my eyes and am transported back to Israel, where I spent the past six weeks.

For me, Israel always feels like home, and even six weeks is not enough time to do all I would like and to see family and old friends as often as I wish.

Pesach is a beautiful time in Israel. It’s springtime and everything is in bloom. During the weeks leading up to the holiday people are busy selling their chametz, kashering their pots and pans, etc. This year things were a little more complicated for us Jerusalemites as President Obama picked an inconvenient time to visit, necessitating the closing of main thoroughfares for hours on end. But finally the holiday arrived, bringing a feeling of joyous thanksgiving.

I was privileged to hear the Priestly blessing on the second day of Chol HaMoed at the Kotel and felt enveloped in holiness. I was delighted to see the signs on buses wishing all a Chag Pesach Sameach. But one of my best “Only in Israel” stories was told to me by my friend Tzviya.

Supermarkets all over Israel sell their chametz and cover over all the shelves that have chametz on them. My friend was in a supermarket on Chol HaMoed when a woman somehow reached behind the covering and took out a box of chametz. The cashier made several attempts to enter the item on her cash register, but each time the words “Chametz – Not For Sale” came up. Finally the cashier told the customer she was unable to sell this to her this week and to please put it back.

The holiday passed all too quickly and then wherever one looked, the beautiful blue and white flag of Israel could be seen blowing in the wind. The country was getting ready to celebrate 65 years of independence. I bought a flag and proudly hung it on my car window.

The most moving experience of all for me took place on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s memorial day for its fallen soldiers. It takes place a day before Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s independence day. For those of us who grew up and live in the U.S., memorial day in Israel is vastly different from what we are used to. It is sad and solemn; theaters are closed, as are many restaurants and stores. A siren sounds in the evening to usher in the day and again in the morning for two minutes of silence.

Aside from the public ceremonies, many people visit the cemeteries. Every year my son Dovid drives from his home in Ginot Shomron to the military cemetery on Har Herzl to visit the grave of his teacher Shlomo Aumann, Hy”d, who was killed defending Israel in the 1982 Lebanon war.

The year the war broke out Dovid was a young boy of 14, about to graduate 8th grade in the Chorev School. Shlomo Aumann , the eldest son of Nobel Laureate Professor Robert (Yisrael) Aumann, was the students’ favorite teacher. His death was a major blow to the entire class but Dovid took it particularly hard. He has never forgotten him and now, so many years later, he brings his children with him.

It is hard to describe the feeling one gets walking past thousands of graves of young men and women – 18, 19, 20 years old. We finally came to Shlomo’s grave. He was 25 when he was killed, leaving behind a two-year-old son and a pregnant wife ( a girl was born a few months after his death). Some family members were already there. Dovid spoke about his teacher and then my granddaughter Elisheva began to play her violin. There is something about the violin that touches the soul as no other instrument can. She played “V’Zakaynee L’Gadel Banim” and Shlomo’s sister told us her brother’s two children are a wonderful credit to his memory. At the sound of the violin, people visiting other graves came over sing with us.

From there we went to the section in memory of Chana Senesh, the heroine who rescued Jews in Europe during World War II before being caught and tortured to death. A group of schoolchildren and their teacher were there and when Elisheva played “Kayli Kayli,” one of the songs Chana Senesh wrote, the entire class sang along. Once again, at the sound of the violin people came from all over to stand alongside us.

The Story of Israel’s Independence

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Scene 1

Enter the shackled. Enter the despondent, wretched souls. Enter the man and woman, boy and girl, deemed “menace to society,” destined to roam endlessly about. Number the stars upon their lapels and the Chai’s upon the chains that grace their necks. Note the fire in their eyes and the resilience in their hearts. See the laws they transcribed from the lips of Hashem, the bulwark of civilization.

Let the backdrop be constructed, the set pieces raised onstage. Livid and malevolent minor characters fill the void, the dark world of apathy and contempt. They seek redemption, to purge themselves from their nightmares and their guilty conscience. They would fly away if they had the means. But instead, they gather scapegoats and project their hate onto the usual suspects. These be our antagonists.

Scene 2

Enter the dreamer, the conceiver of a noble and ambitious project. Distraught over the subjugation of his people, he deems it necessary to act and to will the dream into being. There are no doubts in his mind, no second thoughts. He is sure of the task in front of him and the weight he must carry. The weight of millions alive and yet to be born. He is blessed with a burden, an obligation to freedom. He yearns for the soil, the earth that gave birth to his people.  That old-new land inspires the once and future kings and queens of Zion.

Our protagonists dash. Like lightning, they hurry across the stage. They ascend and journey to that land, that they read of in their Book, that land that they dreamed of in their slumber, that they trembled for, that they dared to desire in Godforsaken places, where evil men attempted to quench their spirit. “Next year,” they whispered. “Next year in Jerusalem.” They come and go in waves. They come by the thousands. But the dream is not yet fully realized.

Scene 3

Let the lights be dimmed and the sea of humanity be tossed and turned about. Let the audience wretch at the putrid stench of the bodies stacked miles high. Feel the flames of the ovens as the sparks hit your flesh. Hear these screams, these shrieks that will remain nameless, faceless. A grandmother here or there. A young boy cursed by his age. A Rabbi made to dig his own grave. A ravine from which they must all jump. Breathe in this air, this foul air. Let it consume your lungs. But avert not your eyes, for you must always remember this, this carnage, this culmination of libels and pogroms. Etch these souls onto your bones. See this and engrave these six million in your heart.

Look how our protagonists now command the world’s attention. See how the globe convulses at its crimes. Of apathy. Of evil. Of genocide. Yet, see how the longing for the land increases, how determination abounds. Let the new Exodus begin, the glorious journey to Zion. Let the ground bring forth its food and the towers be constructed. Let the ancient settlements spring forth anew and the first to Zion rejoice. Let humanity sing, and The City of Peace be painted in gold. For our protagonists have done it. They have triumphed.

Epilogue

This is for you. This is for you, oh man and woman, boy and girl. I can trace the laugh lines of your 65 years across your beautiful terrain. I know your worth and your virtue. They speak of you in paradise. Your spirit is infinite.

So take my hand and walk this land with me. For this is a production of epic proportions. This is Judah’s manifest destiny. This is the uncanny persistence of his youth, the anthem of his old. The memory of his fallen, the battle cry of his founders. The depth of his texts, the blast of his trumpet. This is the no more huddled, no more wretched. This is Judah’s voice, no longer whispered but bellowed. No longer stifled but liberated. So sing it, scream it, shout it until your lungs bursts, not of gas but of joy. Not of sorrow but of delight. Let Judah roar and his enemies quiver in fear and let the song of his people resound throughout the earth. Am Yisrael Chai.

Israeli Children Returned to School, Hence the Rockets

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

The terrorists who are building up men and material resources in the chaos of today’s Egyptian Sinai struck again this morning. Two GRAD rockets were fired into – and struck – the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat.

Memo to those lacking historical, geographic or political background: Eilat is not and never has been claimed by Palestinian Arab terror apologists as “occupied territory”… other than by the many extremists who see all of Israel as the territory that is occupied. The readers of the Lebanese Al Manar news website for instance, are seeing a report at this moment headlined “Rockets Hit Occupied Town of Eilat“; Al Manar is a mouthpiece of Hezbollah. The semi-respectable Palestinian Maan News Agency has called Eilat occupied too, though never in the English language.

Times of Israel is reporting that one of the two missiles crashed into a residential neighborhood; the other in an open area on Eilat’s outskirts. Reuters says both hit open areas. Ynet says there were three rockets, and two landed in residential areas. Israel’s Army Radio, which is broadcast throughout the country, is quoted saying that a rocket “had also hit the nearby Jordanian city of Aqaba, but a spokesman for the Jordanian Civil Defense denied the suggestion.”

Fortunately, and this is a matter of divine intervention and human failure, no injuries are reported, at least  not so far. Damage is said to be light.

The IDF’s assessment, hardly surprising and certainly not for the first time, is that the attack on Eilat was made from the nearby Sinai Peninsula. The situation there is chaotic and dangerous, and growing steadily worse; we have written numerous times about Sinai’s spiral downwards into terrorist-driven anarchy [hereherehere and hereamong numerous other posts]. As a matter of consistent policy, the Egyptian authorities always respond to media inquiries with firm denials that rockets were fired from Egyptian territory; this morning they did the same again.

Israel’s security authorities saw today’s attack coming. An Iron Dome anti-missile defense battery has been stationed near Eilat for the past two weeks; there are ongoing intelligence assessments that warned of an act of terrorism like this morning’s. The system however was not utilized today, presumably because the Iron Dome controller knows to compute the expected damage in real time and to avoid firing if it is reasonable to do that.

The IDF created the Eilat Regional Brigade this past December to provide military protection, to the extent such a thing is doable against a jihadist enemy operating under the cover of a neighboring country’s government. The most recent rocket attack on Eilat’s civilian population (the only kind that it has) was an especially worrying one in August 2012; those which came before it are detailed in this Wikipedia entry.

Visit This Ongoing War.

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