Hamas War

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Israel's Memorial Day Isn't Just About Dead Soldiers

My husband and I made aliyah in 1970 to a very different Israel. The State of Israel was just twenty-two 22 years old. It had recovered from the early days of rationed food and finally, post 1967 Six Days War, had defensible borders and a Capital City that wasn't jaggedly ripped and threatened daily by enemy snipers. New neighborhoods, like a regal crown, were under construction in recently liberated Jerusalem, and a new road safely and relatively quickly connected it with the more affluent coastal plain, including Tel Aviv. 

In those days, Israel's Memorial Day only commemorated, remembered soldiers who had been killed during army service. It took almost fifty years, 1997, to broaden it officially and rename it Yom HaZikaron LeHalelei Ma'arkhot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot HaEivah יוֹם הזִּכָּרוֹן לְחַלְלֵי מַעַרְכוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וּלְנִפְגְעֵי פְּעֻלּוֹת הָאֵיבָה‎,  'Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of the Wars of Israel and Victims of Actions of Terrorism.' That means that victims of terrorism are included, too. Not only are terror victims included in the ceremonies, but the families get more help from the government than previously.

Please don't think that there's always that much difference between the heroism of the dead soldiers and dead civilians. Some of the dead soldiers had spent their army service at very safe desk jobs, or were killed in civilian-type accidents, and some of the civilians died trying to save others in a terror attack. And we must all remember that Arab terrorists don't distinguish between soldiers and civilians. For them there's no difference between a toddler, bus driver and sniper, as long as there's a chance that they are Jewish/Israeli.

Unfortunately, as part of the antigovernment campaign, the opposition has demanded that no minister who hadn't done active army service represent the government in memorial ceremonies. By making such a distinction, the antigovernment activists are going back a quarter of a century and removing victims of terror from Israel's Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, many people who should know better have joined them. I'm rather surprised at Miriam Peretz among others. Peretz has joined the antigovernment campaign to marginalize/boycott the democratically elected government. 

There are all sorts of opposition groups campaigning hard against the government, and one of their "weapons" is that many of the prominent government ministers had never served in the IDF (not that they ever protested about Shimon Peres) and therefore have no right to publicly mourn/speak at Memorial Day ceremonies/events. 

This opposition totally ignores that Memorial Day also mourns victims of Arab terror. Arab terrorists don't distinguish between soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, Jews and non-Jews nor Israelis and tourists. 

Why is the opposition making two or more classes of victims? Where's the unity? According to Jewish Law and custom, the dead are buried wrapped in simple cloth, preferably without even a coffin, because there shouldn't be distinctions between rich and poor, prominent citizens and ordinary people. IDF dead are buried in the simplest wooden coffin to constructed to disintegrate quickly into the earth, because not all the dead bodies can be neatly wrapped up in the traditional shrouds. 

All dead are equally dead; don't distinguish. 

Israelis mourn on Memorial Day, each in their own ways. Some of those we mourn were killed as Israeli soldiers, while others were civilians, random victims of Arab terrorism, and other stories are much more complex. 

There's something else, which is very important to me:

I have been saying for a long time that the present coalition should publicly apologize for their horrendous behavior when they were in the opposition last year. That would be a good step in unifying the citizens of the State of Israel.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Holocaust, "HaShoah" Thoughts after a Visit to Yad Veshem

I wasn't raised with any awareness of the Holocaust, the Nazi murder of six million 6,000,000 Jews during World War Two. It's not that they were hiding any past, not at all. My parents were born in the USA, born in Brooklyn, New York, the same place I was born. Their parents all immigrated to the United States early in the 20th century. After the war, no surviving relatives joined them in New York. From what we can surmise, close to eighty 80 years later, none of the family which had stayed in Europe survived the war. 

Until very recently I felt rather shut out of Holocaust memorials. You had to be a survivor, pre-death camps escapee or descended from them to have a story. Since those who had actually experienced the Holocaust are quickly reaching the end of their lives and their children are grandparents and great-grandparents, their stories of survival and revenge over the Nazis have become legendary and inspiration for the growing genre of Holocaust literature. 

Ever since I first began learning about the Holocaust, as a child when The Diary of Anna Frank became popular and a short time later when Adolf Eichmann was captured then tried in Israel, the Holocaust seemed no more connected to me than Judah Maccabee of the Chanukah story. 

My parents did have relatives who had been living in Europe, mostly Belarus, which was then part of the Soviet Union. After World War Two, nothing was heard from them; they weren't found. In recent years, when I tried to join the Holocaust talk, I was told that my family story didn't count. I'm not in the club, since none of my relatives survived.

Last week I met a visiting cousin and his wife in Yad Vashem. Yad Veshem isn't my favorite place. That's because during my last visit, quite a while ago, I found myself very upset by their use of words about which I blogged Words, They Were All People and Praying to a Non-god. Please read them and tell me what you think in the comments, thanks.

We were taken around by one of their guides and given a very good history lesson. We passed a map of Belarus, and I managed to find Rogachev the city where both of my grandmothers had lived before moving to the United States. 

My paternal grandmother, Anna Brynien, was the second of six daughters. The four eldest and their parents immigrated to New York early in the 20th century, but my grandmother's two youngest sisters had been enthusiastic communists so they stayed in the Soviet Union. My maternal grandmother, Ida Vishnefsky, was from a large, relatively wealthy family. Her father was what was known as a barber-doctor. Everyone stayed in Belarus except my grandmother and one brother, who had immigrated to London. My grandmother followed her first husband to New York with their eldest daughter after visiting her brother in London. When the war ended, no survivors from my grandmothers' families were found.

My maternal great-grandfather

my maternal great-grandmother
One of the exhibits we toured was the Hall of Names dedicated to the dead.  I'm not sure that any of my missing family members are included in the names, but our guide told us that there are still boxes waiting for more names. 

Doesn't that make me and my cousins and children and grandchildren part of the Holocaust story?

The greatest tragedy of the Holocaust is that so many Jews may have no descendants; they didn't survive. That's what happened to my parents' aunts, uncles and cousins. The survivors in my family left Europe before the Nazis were a power. That's how my family survived. 

Hitler's plan was to kill all Jews, not just European ones. He had envisioned conquering the world; thank Gd he failed. 

The Jewish People have survived and thrived. Despite the murder of Six Million Jews by Hitler, the State of Israel was established with the Help of Gd just a very few short years after the Nazi defeat. 

The Jewish People survived and that makes ALL JEWS SURVIVORS!

Thank Gd, because Gd is our secret weapon.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

I'm Being Targeted

Apparently someone is targeting my old posts here, when I had commented on facts, news reports of Arab terrorism. Then they report them to Blogger as going against "community guidelines", and the blogger police automatically "unpublish" the posts. Each time I discover this, I contest it. The first was republished. I'm waiting to see what happens with the most recent ones.

Apparently Blogger doesn't read the posts carefully before unpublishing.

Does anyone else have these problems?

Where's Blogger going?