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Israel is paying its respects to Polish President Lech Kaczynski, who was killed in a plane crash.

Lech Kaczynski IsraelPresident Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi joined other world leaders and top-ranking military officers in extending condolences to the government, people and army of Poland as well as to the families of the victims of the plane crash that took the lives of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, Maria, and other senior dignitaries and military personnel.

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Netanyahu, who met with Kaczynski in Poland and sat alongside him less than three months ago at the International Holocaust Awareness ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, issued a statement, saying, “I knew Kaczynski as a Polish patriot, a great friend of Israel and a leader who did much for his people and to further world peace and prosperity.”

Netanyahu said Kaczynski led an important process to begin a new chapter in relations between Poles and Jews, and between Poland and Israel.

Lieberman and Barak also issued statements mourning the loss, with the foreign minister praising Kaczynski as a “true friend” of Israel who proved his friendship in both words and deeds.

Barak said Kaczynski’s death was a “great loss to his people and to the entire world.”

Peres, who had spent a considerable amount of time with Kaczynski in April, 2008, when Peres paid a state visit to Poland for the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, expressed Israel’s shock at the tragedy that struck Poland.

“The news of the tragic accident that has taken the lives of my friend, President Lech Kaczynski, his wife Maria Kaczynska, and prominent members of Poland’s leadership and its parliament, has been received with a great deal of pain, shock and distress,” said Peres.

“This tragic event is a dreadful blow to the Polish people and to the world at large. My friend, President Kaczynski, was among those who led and advanced change in his country, and represented free Poland, democratic Poland and modern Poland.”

Peres also praised the work of Kaczynski and his wife to promote closer ties between the Poles and Jews by helping to “heal the scars of the past,” and emphasized that bilateral ties between Israel and Poland had been strengthened during Kaczynski’s presidency.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev made the point that Kaczynski, who visited Yad Vashem twice, saw importance in maintaining the memory of the Holocaust, and that the subject of Righteous Among the Nations was particularly close to his heart.

Kaczynski was an ardent promoter of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, for which he gave the land when he was mayor of Warsaw. The museum is being built alongside the Warsaw Ghetto monument.

It is not yet known who will represent Israel at Kaczynski’s funeral. According to protocol, it should be Peres, who is leaving for Paris on Tuesday for the dedication of a square to be named in honor of his mentor, and Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben Gurion. He may continue on to Poland if the funeral is held later in the week. A spokesperson for Beit Hanassi told The Jerusalem Post that the situation is still unclear.

Among the other victims of the tragedy were Chief of the Polish Army’s General Staff Franciszek Gagor, the Ground Troops’ commander Gen. Tadeusz Buk, Air Force Commander Gen. Andrzej Blasik and the special-purpose troops’ commander Gen. Wlodzimierz Potashinski.

In a condolence message to the Polish Defense Forces and their commanders, as well as to the family of Gagor, Ashkenazi said that he had met with Gagor several times over the past three years. He recalled in particular a NATO conference and a time when Gagor had hosted him while Ashkenazi was in Poland to participate in the March of the Living.

Ashkenazi described Gagor as “a superb army man” and remarked on his keen interest in IDF officers who participated in the Witnesses in Uniform program in which the IDF teaches its young officers about the Holocaust by taking them to the death camps and explaining what happened there. Ashkenazi said that he and Gagor had conversed at length on the program, and it had been of importance to Gagor that the officers meet with counterparts in the Polish Army so that they could realize that Poland’s new generation was also being educated about the lessons of the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, the upcoming March of the Living in Auschwitz will go on as planned, while also honoring the victims of the plane crash.

“In the keynote event we shall give expression to the sorrow, mourning, and condolences over the disaster that happened here,” March of the Living Director Aharon Tamir said. “We will attach black ribbons to our flags in order to properly honor the Poles’ pain. President Kaczynski was a great friend of the March and received delegations. I personally met him three times.”

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Meanwhile, Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz delivered an address in memory of the Polish plane crash victims during a ceremony in Krakow honoring Righteous Gentiles.

The minister spoke of the late president’s “special friendship” with Israel, and stressed that Kaczynski was “undoubtedly one of Israel’s greatest friends.”

“Even though we cannot compare the current times to the Holocaust era, we can refer to him as a Righteous Gentile,” Hershkowitz said.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

8:22PM: The official Yom Hashoa ceremony at Yad Vashem is taking place now. You can watch it live online here.

3:25PM: Israelis have been arriving at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv to show their support for the people of Poland.

Memorial candles and flowers were placed at the building’s entrance, as well as a note from “the Tel Aviv neighbors.” Several embassy clerks also arrived at the site. The Polish flag was flown at half-mast.

Urshala Lavdonska, a polish immigrant who made aliyah three years ago, placed flowers and lit candles at the site. “It’s very sad. Kaczynski was a president we all loved,” she said.

Avraham Ladar, a Ramat Gan resident who was born in Poland also came to pay his respects. “I immigrated from Poland 60 years ago and it’s still very painful. Kaczynski was a great friend to the Jewish people. It’s very symbolic that he died a day before the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

Tzvia Halachmi from Ramat Gan said she came to sign a memoir book which is due for release by the embassy on behalf of her friend, a 70-year-old Holocaust survivor from Haifa.

“Israel doesn’t have many friends in the world like the Polish president. We are shocked and mourning the fact that he of all people has gone. We lost an avid supporter who always lent us a warm shoulder,” she said.

Zoya Namensikov, a native Ukrainian said, “How is it possible that such a thing has happened? Letting a president fly in a plane that crashes? It feels like war.”

Oren Patoka from Haifa went an extra step and placed the Polish flag on his house porch. “I am the third generation of Holocaust survivors. I always had mixed feelings about the Polish people, but they were also the ones who saved my grandmother.

“When I heard about the crash I checked up about Lech Kaczynski and discovered he made honest efforts to commemorate the Shoah. He wanted to build a Holocaust museum in Warsaw. I felt a tingle in my heart for those Polish people who did help, not the anti-Semites.”

Patoka also noted that by placing the flag he was honoring the unknown Righteous among the Nations.

11:05AM: According to Ha’aretz, the Shin Bet has requested that an Israeli Arab man working as part of the cleaning staff in former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s gym be transferred from the premises to a different workplace due to security sensitivities.

Here is perhaps some important contextual information that Ha’aretz sees fit to omit.

11:00AM: Further reasons why Gaza is not like a big concentration camp.

#22: Clan brawls.

#23: Horse-drawn wedding ceremonies.

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36 thoughts on “The Day In Israel: Sunday April 11th, 2010”

  1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

    Since the WMD's were brought up, I thought I would post this quote I recently saw from Joseph Shattan:

    "I was having lunch with Dr. Laurie Mylroie, one of America's leading students of terrorism in general, and Iraqi terrorism in particular. Laurie was beside herself with anger. Why wasn't the Bush administration citing Gen. James Clapper, the Director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, who said that satellite imagery proved conclusively that shortly before the war's outbreak, Iraq had transferred its weapons of mass destruction to Syria? Why wasn't it quoting Gen. Georges Sada, deputy chief of Saddam's air force, or Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's chief-of-staff, both of whom also claimed that Saddam's weapons had been transferred to Syria? Why was it so tongue-tied, so unsure of itself, so unwilling to answer its critics? Didn't anybody in the White House realize that if the Democrats' charges went unanswered, they would fatally undermine the entire case for the war?

  2. Michael Zvi Krumbein

    By this time, however, I had left the White House, so I had to tell Laurie the truth: Her revelations about Generals Clapper and Sada (though not Ya'alon) were news to me, and I had no idea why the White House wasn't citing them."

    This was in context of Karl Rove's book, where Shattan says Rove brings all of the above and says he was deletict in not bringing it up. Shattan suggests that Rove (whom he likes and admires) is the man most responsible for electing Obama.

          1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

            There are three people, quoteted by two other people, one of whom is NOT Rove. I only brought Rove as back-up.

            Are you saying that Ya'alon, Clapper, and Sada did not say these things?

  3. Michael Zvi Krumbein

    George Mitchell is supposed to have said that Arab leaders bring up Iran first, yet Obama is mainly obsessed with us? Anybody have any idea why? You think that perhaps he would prefer that the Iranians wipe us out?

    1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

      No Moslem theories please. Assume he is a member of one of the liberal religions (which, coincedentally, do seem to be trying to wipe us out).

        1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

          It's been suggested, but it doesn't matter. His form of Christianity bothers me more than his slight Moslem background.

          Meanwhile, the white, Catholic version of Wright, Dr. Michael P. (sorry, I can't spell it), was just given an award by his Cardinal.

    2. Maybe it only seems like an Obama obsession when you compare his approach to George W. Bush's, which can be summed up in one word "indifference." You think W. really cared all that much about Israel? He made no meaningful effort to orchestrate any kind of real peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Besides, how much oil does Israel control anyway?

      1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

        This sort of caring I can do without. So you like people who force people to do things they don't agree with "for their own good"?

        1. Here's some advice I offer as a friend and offer it "for your own good," Michael. Come back to the Liberal instincts of your youth. It is empowering to be part of a political movement that fights for the little guy over the monied interests of the other side. The truth will set you free!

          1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

            ?? I was a conservative from day one. Or perhaps I should say I was a '40's liberal like my Dad, which is more or less a neo-conservative.

            There are few liberals left, only leftists. A leftist loves humanity, but has contempt for individual human beings. I prefer the little guy in Beit-El than the monied interests of Abbas and Obama. (You do know that the Democrats raked in the cash from Wall Street.) But mostly I believe in increasing the size of the pie, rather than fighting over pieces of an every-shrinking one.

            And now we have the New Feudalism, people like Gore who live in huge mansions but want the rest of us to freeze in the dark. People like Robert Kennedy, Jr., who like windmills as long as they aren't where he sails his yacht.

            1. Well I do have contempt for guys like Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, two top-flight right-wing hacks who would rather cash in by name calling and Obama bashing than to foster any kind of genuine political debate. However, I like you Michael because you want to have a dialogue. You just have not come over to my way of thinking….yet!

                1. Well, maybe in your little circle, Shy Guy, but I have hope for you as well. I'm with the "hopey-changey" guy, not the guy who couldn't remember making any mistakes while president (and the guy who hired a whole White House full of co-dependent enablers who made sure he didn't remember anything, either.)

                  1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                    You mean the guy who was a gentleman (like his father), and didn’t blame his predecesor or successor, while they were all busy blaming them?

                    1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                      September 11, for starters, although Republican carping about Clinton's miltary adventures did not help.

                      With all that Clinton and Obama tried to blame everything on their predecessors, they generally kept silent. Clinton has not done this.

                    2. That was completely on Bush. His administration fully ignored warnings given months before by a dozen intelligence agency domestic and abroad and a full briefing. They decided it was better to give tax cuts and take vacations.

                  2. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                    He has a point. You have a problem accepting that the “other side” may also be able to find original sources, et. al., and perhaps may not interpret your “obvious facts” the way you do.

                    By the way, Mark Levin does have some great stuff in Men in Black. I particularly like the discussion about the Dred Scott decision and the list of Supreme Court judges who served while – literally, not politically – senile.

                    1. Let me try something novel. Because I genuinely like you and Shy Guy and I very much want to continue our conversations in the future, let's agree not to characterize each other in any way. Certainly we should all feel free to disagree and point out where we think the other is off base. I also recognize that as Israelis, you have much more at stake than I do in how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. I really don't believe I am naive, doctrinaire, a hypocrite or insensitive to the feelings of others. I just have a different world view in general and on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in particular.

                    2. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                      I don't mind your view. The red line for me is when you support it being imposed on us.

              1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                He (or do I have the wrong Kennedy?) opposed a another, conventional plant that would have provided needed jobs for people not as fortunate as he bacause the wires would ruin the sight lines.

          2. Michael Zvi Krumbein

            Actually, it's the people who said "the truth will set you free" who tried to "help us for our own good". For example, in Christian Spain from 1391 to 1492.

      2. A comment I wrote elsewhere:

        I would say that Bush reached out plenty [to the Arabs] but nowhere near as much as Obama. I would also say Bush’s motivations were more strategy and greed than Obama’s motivations of ideology and principal.

        Bush knew camel shit when he saw and smelled it.

        Obama eats it for breakfast.

        1. Your comments made me laugh, Shy Guy. You're the sage of our times. (But I still disagree with you on Obama.)

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