The Day In Israel: Memorial Day Edition

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Memorial Day ceremony on Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill:

Netanyahu
Getty Images

“Twice we have paid a heavy price in order to release the blockade on Jerusalem. The first time in the War of Independence and the second time when the city was bombed during the Six Day War.”

“Forty-three years ago Jerusalem was a divided city with a wall at its heart. Today, along that same route the tracks are placed for the light rail, which will connect the thriving neighborhoods that have been built over dozens of years.”

“Jerusalem, once a divided city, has become a city of life, productivity and rejuvenation.

“Not a day has gone by in which we have not extended our hand in peace to our neighbors. That hand is still reaching out to those who want peace. Over the years we have learned that olive branches of peace will be obtained only if we remain strong and prepared to defend our country.”

“The fighters of Ammunition Hill, as well as the other fighters, gave up their lives for the State of Israel. They believed in the righteousness of protecting the Jewish nation’s only state.”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

11:44PM: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s interview with “Good Morning America” anchor George Stephanopoulos.



The full interview transcript is here.

5:32PM: Jimmy Carter and fellow anti-Israel clowns – take note! (hat tip: Daled Amos)

Dr. Mohammed Wattad, an Arab Israeli  Muslim who is a senior  lecturer at Zefat College’s School of Law  and editor of the International Journal on Medicine and Law  told an audience here  that Israel is not an apartheid state.

The very articulate Dr. Wattad spoke at the University of Manitoba during Israel Apartheid Week [IAW], but  virtually none of the  IAW organizers and supporters came to hear his lecture.

Dr. Wattad said that “As an Israeli citizen, I belong to a political entity…I have no other home than the State of Israel. I am a proud Israeli citizen but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it…At the same time I am a proud Arab national. I like Arab culture, people, etc… Whenever something wrong happens to the Arab world, I feel it. These are not contradictory things.”

He added, “Don’t tell me Israel can’t define itself as Jewish and democratic… This doesn’t mean that Israel is innocent in all of this [conflict], but there are others here that also aren’t innocent.”

Dr. Wattad, who was sponsored by the Jewish Students Association/Hillel  pointed out that “Israeli Arabs, for example in the Galilee, decided upon the State of Israel’s birth to stay and take citizenship, to be an Israeli citizen or not…That was their choice…”

In 2007, Dr. Wattad, was the recipient in Italy of the an award for  the ‘‘Best Oralist for Legal Arguments” given by  the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Science.  At the University of Manitoba he spoke about the difference between discrimination and apartheid.

“Is there discrimination in Israel? Yes-there is discrimination against women, elderly, Arabs, Russian Jews, Christians,…But the same goes for Canada. Is it good-No?  But it means we have to deal with the problem from within…. The existence of discrimination in a state does not mean it is an apartheid state…There is a big difference between apartheid and discrimination,” he said.

“In an apartheid regime, there is no possibility of judicial review, because the judges are appointed by the regime and all serve one ideology. This is not the case in Israel…There is a very strong, independent Supreme Court in Israel.  In an apartheid regime [unlike in Israel] there is no place to go to argue against the government,”  Dr.  Wattad added.

He further noted for example that in the case of   Israel’s security “fence”, there were “‘more than 163 judgments of the Supreme Court where they decided that the fence  had to be re-routed/rebuilt.” He also said that Egypt also has a fence between it and Gaza.

4:04PM: Here’s what it looked like at Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s central market, when the Memorial Day siren sounded at 11:00AM this morning.

3:16PM: Tourists stranded in Israel due to the volcanic ash have been given the opportunity to witness Memorial Day in Israel.

2:44PM: Breaks my heart.

The mother of Israel Defense Forces Major Eliraz Peretz, who was killed last month in the Gaza Strip, on Monday marked her first memorial day since his death and the twelfth since her eldest son Uriel was killed in Lebanon in 1998.

“The dilemma I now face is inhuman: Beside which grave do I stand on Mount Herzl,” Miriam Peretz said in interview with Army Radio, referring to the annual memorial ceremony at the military cemetery.

“I am indeed not an angel. I can feel pain only in one place, to be comforted only in one place,” she said. “Eliraz always came to be with me on Memorial Day, except when he was in military action.”

“It was always me, my husband and Eliraz, there to salute Uriel,” added Peretz, whose husband died of an illness several years ago. “This year, I am without Eliezer and without Uriel.”

12:05PM: Sweet.

Some 20,000 flowers donated by American Christians and Jews who were upset by the reportedly poor treatment that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received in the White House last month will be distributed on Remembrance Day.

Jerusalem florist Richard Kovler allocated the flowers on Sunday to army units, Border Police and organizations helping victims of terror, for memorial ceremonies that will be held Monday across the country.

“It’s a nice gesture of friendship at a time of bereavement to let Israelis know that Americans care about them,” Kovler said.

More than 2,100 dozen roses, totaling more than 25,000 flowers, were donated in a campaign led by US radio host Janet Porter’s Faith2action organization. About 6,000 flowers were distributed to Jerusalem hospitals on April 11, and one bouquet of 100 flowers was symbolically given to Netanyahu.

In a thank-you letter to Porter, Netanyahu said he had no doubt that the flowers had touched the hearts of those who received them and that her unwavering support for Israel was deeply appreciated

11:55AM: Former British PM Tony Blair is reportedly stranded in Jerusalem due to the volcanic ash cloud over Europe.

I wonder if he’ll spend the time he’s stranded the same way his sister-in-law did – eating.

11:40AM: With Israel’s iPad ban being ridiculed by many, perhaps this explains it:

The reason the Communications Ministry is blocking the entry of iPad tablet computers into Israel is that the device’s wireless communications could interfere with frequencies used by the military, said MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) yesterday.

Nevertheless, if that is reason, Ilatov does not seem to be concerned by it:

He wrote a letter to Communications Minister the Moshe Kahlon, calling on him to allow the importation of Apple’s new computers, which the ministry banned last week. Ilatov said the ban had harmed Israel’s image around the world, and kept Israelis from using cutting-edge technology.

9:06AM: Ahead of Israel’s Independence Day starting tonight, Hillary Clinton speaks of her “deep personal commitment” to Israel the teleprompter.

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