The Day In Israel: Tues Apr 28th, 2009

Click refresh to see new updates during the day

Israeli President Shimon Peres at the main Memorial Day ceremony:

“They say the pain dissolves as times moves on, as years pass. And I know it isn’t so: Pain just becomes sharper as the days and years go by. You see a soldier in IDF uniform in the street and your eyes well up.”

“You hear steps in the stairwell and you think maybe he returned, maybe he’s coming home. But no, it’s not him. You participate in a family gathering and your heart is broken. Everybody dances and laughs and you make an effort to break into a smile so as not to spoil the fun.”

“This year, also, we lost the best of our boys and girls, some of them in Operation Cast Lead. This year also we returned to the cemeteries, to bury our dead, mourn their loss and cry with the families.”

“For 61 years we have been burying our children and the end is still not on our horizon. Again and again the boys are called to protect their fathers and mothers; again and again the commanders lead their troops and fall in battle, because the best of our men always go down first.”

“This year, too, the threat to our existence persists, and yet, we do not run away from the battlefield. We do not want war, but if it is forced upon us, I suggest to our enemies and friends as one, to be on the right side, our side, the side that has always won and will always win.”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

6:55PM: Israeli health authorities fear that a third case of swine flu may have been discovered – the 5-year-old niece of one of the people already diagnosed with it.

6:13PM: We now have a confirmed second case of swine Mexican flu in Israel.

5:47PM: Here is a list of some good causes to which to donate on this Yom Hazikaron (or any time of the year, in fact).

One Family Fund

IDF Widows and Orphans Org

Friends of the IDF

Connections Israel

If you would like to suggest any other causes related to the IDF and/or terror victims, please do so in the comments.

5:35PM: You can find more on those Israelis killed in terrorist attacks here. You’ll also find a donate button over there. Just sayin.’

3:25PM: Ma’an News reports:

A special Palestinian Authority (PA) military court in Hebron in the sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after he was found guilty of selling land to Israeli settlers on Tuesday.

This is the first time a Palestinian court has handed down a conviction for treason in a case relating to land sales. The suspect is from the Hebron area.


The military court held a hearing session on 21 April, on the charge of “leaking lands to Israel.”

The PA announced just over a week ago that it is investigating Palestinians who sell land to settlers.

If this was a news item about Israel prosecuting someone for selling land to Arabs, there would be hell to pay. And notice how I said “prosecuting”, which is not on the same level of depravity as “sentencing to death.”

The Left really should reevaluate for whom it wants to throw its support, especially if it wants to convince those of us with the ability to think that it really cares about human rights.

1:12PM: The Health Ministry has confirmed our first case of the swine..err Mexican flu.

26-year-old Tomer Vajim, who had been hospitalized at the Laniado Hospital in Netanya with flu-like symptoms after returning from Mexico, is reportedly in good condition and being kept in isolation and receiving medication.

Doctors are still awaiting test results for a second Israeli who returned from Mexico with flu-like symptoms on Sunday and was hospitalized at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

9:40AM: Here’s a nice piece on Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s Memorial Day) from a new Israeli blogger:

Is a memory something you have or something you’ve lost? – Woody Allen (Spoken by Gena Rowlands (as Marion) in ‘Another Woman’)

Today we think of who we do not have and why, and then what that lack demands of us.

Tomorrow, about how we celebrate being alive to meet those demands.

Today is Memorial Day in Israel, honoring fallen soldiers and victims of terror, observed here a day before Independence Day. The connection is essential since it is widely recognized that without the former, celebrating the latter would be impossible, while always hoping that one day, this will not be the case. That there will be no more names on next year’s list of the fallen. It is, in other words, a sacred day we wish with all our hearts we didn’t need to observe, and in fact grapple with its necessity all the time.

Here’s something I wrote about potential loss and war when my husband was commanding an APC in Lebanon II. I was essentially the least supportive war wife ever, because I didn’t believe in the war. I later learned, from the Disney franchise of all places, that Hassan Nasrallah was counting on people like me to behave exactly as I did. (What does Disney have to do with the IDF and Hezbollah? Think Mufasa / Scar / Simba / Pridelands / Hakuna Matata / Circle of Life… Or just read the essay.)

In any event, Israel is not quite Western and also has a very small population – death by war is not something distant and abstract, since everyone has either lost someone or knows someone who has. As such, there are no Memorial Day sales and no Memorial Day home games and no Memorial Day picnics. There are, instead (not in addition), countless public ceremonies, school observances, lots of sad TV documentaries (and little else on) and public moments of silence when traffic stops all along the nation’s highways. It’s not a case where some of the country mourns its fallen sons and daughters and some of the country shops or watches baseball.

Memory is pervasive around here, fraught. It is as much something as it is a lack of something.

The mood shifts dramatically sometime around 5 pm, as people get ready for Independence Day, an out and out celebration, complete with picnics, barbecues, parties, fireworks, etc. Much like the Fourth of July.

(But stores: Still closed.)

It seems that Israeli memory is about a conscious decision to always be remembering and forgetting all the time, in the same instant, a constant argument between absence and presence that sometimes results in the type of massive virtual memory overload that can causes one to freeze. Independence Day is, to continue that metaphor, like one big national reboot.

In truth, I sometimes miss the days of memory being something you celebrate at Macy’s, unless, of course, you had someone die in Vietnam or Iraq, in which case your day might look a little Israeli.

In any event, this silence and seriousness and restraint and celebration of life that nearly everyone does around here is very intense and it makes me want to hide some days.

But then I forget that I need to. Memory is like that.

5:53AM: ABC News interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Part One:

Part Two:


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media