An Israeli woman visits a relative’s grave on Mount Herzl on Tuesday, a few hours before Memorial Day begins, at which point the military cemetery will be full of family and friends of the deceased.
Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’
Today is Memorial Day. If anyone should recognize the sacrifices of the American military, it is the Jewish people. It was the supreme allied commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower who led the invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach in France so as to enable the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. Omaha Beach was a virtual slaughter house as wave after wave of soldiers moved forward into massive gunfire by the enemy. Many soldiers died or became permanently injured. And yet they kept on coming until the eventually landed and overcame the enemy.
One of the images that will be seared into my memory will be the tour Eisenhower took into one of the liberated camps. What he encountered was the unimaginable and yet true events of torture that took place at the hands of the Nazis, while the German citizens looked the other way. Eisenhower went to a nearby town and forced the entire town to go to one of those camps to see what their leaders had done… and forced those townspeople to help bury the dead.
I think it is only right to think of all the sacrifices that American soldiers did for the sake of triumphing over evil… an evil directed primarily against us. We owe those men… and this country a tremendous debt of gratitude. God bless them and God bless the United States of America.
A victim of Arab terror disrupted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at today’s Memorial Day service at Mount Herzl.
Rami Cohen was stabbed by an Arab in 2000, during the early stages of the Oslo War (second “intifada”). Today, he wants answers about the release of hundreds of murderers in order to cajole the PLO to negotiate with Israel over the past nine months.
“How could you release the killers of our children?” Cohen shouted at the prime minister.
Netanyahu did not address the fact that the prisoner releases failed to appease Palestinian Authority leader Abu Mazen, and failed to secure any Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish country. But the prime minister appeared unfazed by the interruption, and said he’d expected to be challenged about the prisoner release.
“The decision we made was a tough one, one that stands in contrast to the values of justice,” Netanyahu said. “The tough reality of this region has forced Israeli governments for decades to make decisions like this one that are too tough to bear.
“(But) I viewed it as my responsibility as the prime minister of Israel to stand here to day together with you, on Yom HaZikaron with our fallen loved ones. I salute you and wish you a speedy recovery. May the memories of all terror victims be blessed forever,” Netanyahu said.
Israel’s flag is waving at half mast and the memory of 23,169 lost Israeli soldiers and victims of terror has quieted the nation on Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day.
No music plays in the neighborhoods, and children are not laughing today on the streets. A somber air is felt throughout the country as Israelis remember their fallen.
Some of those are not even Jewish. They are Bedouin or Druze or Circassians who have thrown in their lot with their Jewish neighbors. They, too, have paid the price.
Few indeed are those in this country who have not lost at least one family member in military action or terror, or are not close to someone who has, in the struggle to fulfill the mitzvah to hold this Holy Land, Eretz Tzion, Israel.
By age 16, all Jewish teens in Israel receive their first IDF notice, summoning them for exams to determine a medical, educational and psychological fitness profile. The IDF recently announced it will soon begin to send voluntary draft notices to all Christian Israelis, offering them the chance to enlist in Israel’s army as well.
By 18, most boys and girls in this country are smiling and nervously getting into fitted green or camel-colored uniforms, queuing up at central bus stations before and after Shabbat and talking about what happened in their new units “at the base.”
They’re babies, really — babies learning how to face killers; other babies fed on evil hatred since birth. Last year, 40 died, though some of those were reservists, IDF soldiers who return to serve 30 days a year to help the “newbies” and the career soldiers keep Israel safe from its enemies. “Reservists” can be soldiers in their 20s — or as old as 40.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, to show those that haven’t experienced it the size of the grief that befell us, the intensity of the shock that grasps us, and the sense of loss that fills us,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained at Monday’s ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery, attended also by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and a host of other officials.
Paraphrasing and slightly changing a well-known Psalm of King David, he said, “There, we sat at the graves of our loved ones, and wept, and we remembered our loved ones that fell for the sake of Zion.”
Sweeping the entire People of Israel into unity with Israel’s grief over its fallen, the prime minister said, “On this day, the entire people relates to the heroes of the nation. They come from all parts of the nation and from all parts of society. The simple truth that is the most concise is this: we would not be here if it were not for their sacrifice.
“Even if it means unparalleled pain, a great miracle happened here. Israel returned to her country, to her home, established a state and did wonders, but at this moment we should not forget that it is a privilege to be here.”
People came to their feet across the country as a siren wailed into the skies at 11 o’clock in the morning, reminding Israelis of the price paid for peace, and Israel’s defense.
A candle lighting ceremony at the Western Wall last night, announced by the nationwide siren at eight o’clock in the evening, also featured an address by President Peres.
“We, the Israelis, are not like every people,” the president pointed out. “Already for years a sad generation hasn’t relaxed, hasn’t been able to enjoy a time of happiness. Our joy is always missing. A cloud of sadness envelops us. It is deeply hidden, but one can see it in our eyes.”
The president spoke of parents who lost their children, “the image of the soldiers that fell in Israel’s wars… They did not have time to plant a tree. They didn’t taste the full flavor of love. They left behind you, the bereaved families… and us, the friends, to painfully remember.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu has praised the 23,169 IDF soldiers who have died in Israel’s wars.
“You are our heroes,” said Netanyahu in his address to the opening ceremony at tonight’s Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) ceremony. The prime minister. who lost his brother Yoni Netanyahu during the Entebbe rescue mission in July, 1976, then paraphrased the Book of Psalms “It is certainly very hard, perhaps impossible, to convey to someone who hasn’t experienced it the size of the grief, the strength of the shock that gripped us, the feelings of loss that filled us at the graves of our loved ones. “There we sat down, there we cried as we remembered our loved ones,” said the prime minister.
For 40 years, the family of Tzion Tayib have been fighting for proof their son was killed in the Yom Kippur war and it is his body that is buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, according to a report on Galei Tzahal (Army Radio).
Tayib’s position on the Hermon mountain was overrun in the first days of the Yom Kippur war by Syrian commandos, where Tayib served as a communications specialist, according to a detailed report on Walla.
From that position, a number of soldiers were declared missing, and 11 months later the IDF declared them dead.
According to the court papers released by the Supreme Court, the IDF claimed that they learned from captured Syrian soldiers the location of Tayib’s body, and they recovered it, confirmed his identity, and buried it.
The body of Tzion Tayib was buried without the family being present, and they were later informed that he had been buried.
The family, from the beginning claimed the IDF did not do enough to positively confirm the identify of Tayib, and it was lying to them. They felt there were discrepancies in the versions told to them.
The IDF said it had 100% confirmed that Tayib was dead and buried in his grave.
Twenty years ago, when DNA testing became reliable, the family asked that the body be exhumed to confirm that it was Tayib who was buried in the Har Herzl military cemetery, but the IDF refused.
Three months ago, the family turned to the Bagatz (Israel’s Supreme Court) for permission to exhume and test the body.
In February, the Supreme Court responded that the IDF’s presented sufficient proof that it was Tzion Tayib who was buried there, and did not grant permission to the family.
The family then decided to take action on their own.
On Friday, when the cemetery was busy with preparations for Memorial Day, the family entered the cemetery with two doctors, one of them a pathologist, as well as a tombstone maker. They carefully removed the tombstone and began digging.
They did not find the body of Tzion Tayib. They did not find any body at all in the grave.
They videoed all the evidence, and then restored the grave and tombstone so that no one visiting their lost ones during the day would be disturbed by the site of an open grave.
As can be expected, this has caused a major scandal in Israel.
During the Yom Kippur war, when many soldiers were killed in terrible battles, sometimes, such as in the case of burnt out tanks, there was very little, if anything left to bury. But in those cases, the IDF privately informed the families that they were burying an empty coffin, or were burying a tank unit together, whose parts weren’t individually identifiable.
In this case, the IDF fought the family for 40 years, claiming it did bury the Tzion Tayib’s body.
What happens next remains to be seen.
From the Ministry of Defense Yizkor site: