Tuesday, May 10, 2016

10-May-16: Stopping to remember

A country stops to remember [Image Source]
Tonight (Tuesday) here in Israel, sunset marks the start of an extraordinary period of 48 hours.

An entire country first stops, remembers and mourns collectively and individually the thousands of lives taken from us in the several wars and many terror attacks that have for generations – starting long before Israel came into existence as a separate country - characterized the extreme animosity expressed towards us by the surrounding Arab states.

That’s Yom Hazikaron, Israel's national Memorial Day.

Then, barely pausing for breath, the mood changes dramatically as the sun sets Wednesday evening and we go straight into a day of national joy” Israel's 68th Independence Day, starting Wednesday night.

Last year at exactly this time, Arnold Roth was an invited keynote speaker at Toronto's community-wide commemoration of Israel’s national days. After participating, we can say that Toronto does a really fine job: a formal occasion, very well attended, and marked by full-hearted solemnity and celebration. It felt a tremendous privilege to take a role.

In his speech, Arnold reflected on what some consider the strangeness of a day of deep sadness being bracketed closely with national jubilation. His speech, under the title Remembrance and Redemption, is the subject of the video embedded below. In it, he touches on the song that Malki, our murdered daughter, composed in the last year of her life: several versions of it, all freely downloadable, are here, along with some of the background to its creation and aftermath.

He also shared aspects of a not-so-pleasant experience - as Israel's representative - addressing an international conference on terror and its victims, convened in New York City by the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2008. (A Haaretz report of that conference and of Arnold Roth's speech is here.) That speech is the source of the audio track accompanying a short introductory film clip that was shown to the audience in Toronto and which takes up the first 4m 20s of the YouTube video below.

This video was first published a year ago on the blog of the Malki Foundation, a really fine charity worthy of your attention and support. (Full disclosure: we are among its founders. Our roles - Frimet's and Arnold's - are honorary. From its inception, the foundation has always had a top-notch, but tiny, professional management team which does a great job.)

To put some concrete data around the pain that Israelis will be remembering tonight and tomorrow, the official military data (via Ministry of Defenserefer to 16,307 bereaved families: 9,442 bereaved parents, 4,917 widows and 1,948 orphans (below the age of 30). Soldiers who fell from 1860 to May 6, 2016 number 23,447. More than one-and-a-half million people will be visiting some 52 military cemeteries across Israel tomorrow.

The first official memorial events will begin shortly after the first siren blast this evening (Tuesday, May 10 at 8:00 pm. There will be a two-minute-long siren tomorrow (Wednesday, May 11) at 11:00 am, when anyone who cares to look will be able to observe that remarkable sight of highways throughout the entire country stopping to flow, pedestrians standing with heads bowed, a nationwide hush in the midst of a bright, sunny, warm and busy day in a Middle Eastern country that has not forgotten to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

No comments: