Israel Goes from Remembrance to Celebration in One Day
Dear Christian Leaders,
Last week, Jews and all people of conscience observed Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah. This is a solemn annual day of remembrance in honor of the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis simply for being Jewish.
Yom HaShoah serves as a warning of the terrible cost of not having a Jewish state because it reminds us all how vulnerable Jews were in the diaspora without the safe haven of the State of Israel.
This week, Israel observes two more days that are full of significance for the Jewish people. Memorial Day, or Yom HaZikaron, began yesterday evening and is observed all day today, Tuesday, April 25th. Israel came to a standstill yesterday evening as Memorial Day began with a minute-long silence in honor of the country’s 28,468 fallen soldiers and terror victims since the founding of the Jewish State.
All day today, Israelis will remain in a state of solemn observance in honor of those who have died in defense of the State of Israel and civilians who have been murdered by terrorists. Commemoration ceremonies are held across the country and flags are lowered to half-mast.
Yom HaZikaron is a sad reminder of the cost of having a Jewish state because of the number of people who have given their lives in defense of that state and innocent civilians who have died at the hands of terrorists, simply because they were Jews who wanted to live in their ancient homeland.
Last year at this time, the Defense Ministry released the total number of those who had died in defense of Israel since the founding of the Jewish State. The number was 24,068. This year the number is 28,468. That's an increase of well over 4,000 people in one year who have lost their lives in defense of Israel or have been victims of terror attacks carried out by Palestinian neighbors.
This shocking number of deaths is high by any standard, but it is extremely high relative to the total population of Israel. It is also quite significant in light of the fact that the vast majority of Israel's population has relatives and/or close friends who have either died defending the State or have been murdered by a terrorist. The sad reality is that nobody in Israel lives without having been personally impacted by one or more of these deaths.
The somber observance of Memorial Day ends this evening and the joyous celebration of Independence Day begins immediately. Israelis go from the mourning of Yom HaZikaron to the joy of celebrating the existence of the Jewish State in just one day. The juxtaposition of these two days is a poignant reminder of the fact that Israel's national independence is directly dependent on the sacrifice of the fallen and their families.
This year's Yom Ha'atzma'ut is particularly exciting as it marks the 75th anniversary of the declaration of Israel's independence on the same day the British Mandate came to an end. On the 5th of Iyar, (which was May 14th in 1948 according to the Gregorian calendar for that year), Israeli Prime Minister David ben Gurion read the proclamation that established the Jewish State of Israel.
The way for the proclamation of independence was paved by the passing of a resolution by the UN General Assembly on November 29th, 1947, in which the assembly called for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel and required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution.
Here is the text of the proclamation David ben Gurion read 75 years ago today:
ACCORDINGLY WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE'S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.
WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People's Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People's Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called "Israel".
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.
WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations.
WE APPEAL - in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months - to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
WE EXTEND our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.
WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream - the redemption of Israel.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN THE "ROCK OF ISRAEL," WE AFFIX OUR SIGNATURES TO THIS PROCLAMATION AT THIS SESSION OF THE PROVISIONAL COUNCIL OF STATE, ON THE SOIL OF THE HOMELAND, IN THE CITY OF TEL-AVIV, ON THIS SABBATH EVE, THE 5TH DAY OF IYAR, 5708 (14TH MAY,1948).
In the picture, Ben Gurion is seen reading the proclamation while standing under a picture of Theodor Herzl, the founder and president of the Zionist Organization and author of Der Judenstatt (The Jewish State), published in 1896. In 1897, Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress to initiate steps to establish the Jewish State. As a result, Herzl is mentioned in Israel's Declaration of Independence as the "author of the vision of the Jewish state.”