Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers. An opportunity to censure the memory
Ben-Dror Yemini

The enemies of commemoration

Op-ed: Those who call for erasing the Israeli memory of the Holocaust and of Israel's fallen soldiers are usually those who preach in favor of raising awareness of the Nakba; they are not very good with facts nor with logic.

As always, the days between Holocaust Remembrance Day and Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers are another opportunity to censure the memory. The explanations repeat themselves: Education for nationalism, separatism, fascism, bla bla bla. "The education minister's initiative to teach the Holocaust in kindergartens" is presented again as an example. The lie is repeated 1,000 times, and it wins.



The simple truth is that the Education Ministry wanted to adopt an educational initiative of Yad Vashem, whose main goal, among preschoolers, is to nurture respect for the other and the different. But to hell with the facts. Here's another opportunity to claim that Israel is a fascist country.


The marches of the living are treated similarly. The enemies of the memory continue to claim that these marches encourage nationalism, because one student said that Kahane was right. The majority of participants actually reached an opposite insight. A study which examined the influence on the youth found a rise in the approach that "every person should be seen as a citizen of the world, regardless of his national affiliation," and 71% of participants said the visit made it possible for them to understand the universal ramifications of the Holocaust.


There are additional figures pointing to the humane influence, and there is no contradiction between humaneness and nationality – nationality, not nationalism. That doesn’t help. Incitement wins.


March of the Living at Auschwitz. Encouraging nationalism? (Photo: EPA)
March of the Living at Auschwitz. Encouraging nationalism? (Photo: EPA)


Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers receives a similar welcome. In Israel, it should be noted, death is not a cause for celebration. No one gets caught in illusions about 72 virgins. Families don't set up a tent and hand out candy for their son becoming a shahid. The direction is completely different: In their death they willed us life.


But don’t worry. Those who suggest that we erase the Israeli memory are usually those who preach in favor of raising awareness of the Nakba. They are not very good with facts nor with logic. This isn't a matter of left or right. The enemies and disrupters of the memory belong to a small minority, which is highly involved in the public discourse. And that's a shame. In the left, let there be no doubt, there are much more sane voices, and even a connection between memory and commemoration and helping people in distress.


That is, for example, the story of Orna Shimoni. She made it into the public consciousness following her activity in the Four Mothers organization. Many people don’t have fond memories of the organization members, claiming that they sent the entire country into a frenzy of a hasty pullout from Lebanon. Others remember them favorably, saying that their civil and public struggle shortened the unnecessary entrapment in the Lebanese mud. Shortly after Shimoni began her activity, her son, Eyal, was killed in Lebanon.


In recent years, Shimoni has been devoting all her time and effort towards Beit Eyal, a huge project which is also an amazing commemoration site for fallen soldiers from northern Israel and an institution for disabled people and people with special needs.


Several months ago, Shimoni called me and asked me to deliver a lecture at the place. We don’t pay, she informed me in advance. I arrived there. I witnessed with my own eyes the special combination between the commemoration of fallen soldiers and moments of satisfaction for disabled and disadvantaged people. that was my reward.


A week ago, Shimoni completed another project: The Cedars of Lebanon Route, which commemorates 1,566 soldiers who were killed in Lebanon and in attacks by terrorists who infiltrated from Lebanon. An event was held. Shimoni was sad, because not a single word was written about it.

With 1,001 more urgent problems, with a herd of "enlightened" people who are waging a campaign against commemoration and memory, her situation is grim. But her life's enterprise deserves more than zero mentions in the media.


So if you happen to be in northern Israel, pay a visit to this wonderful place she established, Beit Eyal, in Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov Meuhad. She deserves it. We deserve it.


פרסום ראשון: 04.20.15, 23:53
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