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Calls To Suspend Protests On Israel’s Memorial Day

By 04/20/2023 8:36 AMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

Israel’s national memorial day approaches, but the nation is still torn by social unrest and political controversies, raising concerns that the day, which honors the tens of thousands of people who have died in Israeli wars and terrorist attacks, will be marred by strife and conflict.

Members of anti-reform organizations are requesting a suspension of demonstrations on Memorial Day in response to this. “On the coming Memorial Day, we will not protest because our hearts will be with our brothers and sisters in arms who fell in battle, we will bow our heads for them, we will cry and hug the families,” the Brothers in Arms group, which is made up of IDF reservists, said in a statement.

The organization also requested that everyone wear their protest shirts at home and avoid visiting the cemetery.

Many bereaved families have made it clear that they do not want politicians who did not serve in the IDF to speak at or attend Memorial Day events, and some have even explicitly said that they do not want them to attend.

Eli Ben-Shem, the leader of the Yad Labanim group that plans the memorial services for the slain soldiers, warned that if politicians attend these gatherings, altercations may result.

Speaking on Kan Radio, Ben Shem stated, “I very much hope that they [the government] understand that these places are dynamite,” about Memorial Day military celebrations. Politicians who did not serve in the IDF attending these memorial events, according to Ben Shem, would be “lighting a bonfire in a cemetery” and should be avoided.

The new proposed law that would decrease the exemption age for chareidim, thereby allowing them to enter labor at 23 or even 21 instead of the present exemption age of 26, has increased tensions on the topic.

Ben Shem and other bereaved families wanted to stop lawmakers from attending ceremonies, but Defense Minister Gallant, who is working on the legislation, denied their request.

According to Ben Shem, seven such ceremonies will be attended by politicians who did not serve in the IDF, including the one at the Beersheva cemetery where Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir is scheduled to speak.

The Defense Ministry has not made public the list of public figures who will be attending these ceremonies. Because of his right-wing actions before reaching military age, Ben-Gvir was turned down by the IDF.

Otherwise, a tragedy will occur. They must use common sense. If we consider [the military] graves to be the State of Israel’s holiest of holies of the State of Israel, if we will see violence and shouting over the graves of our children — I would want to die,” said the Yad Labanim chairman, who is himself a bereaved father.

Ben Shem said last week that over 8,000 parents had gotten in touch with his group to ask that lawmakers not show up to the funerals. Ben Gvir’s attendance in the Beersheba celebration was met with particularly vociferous criticism, according to some of the grieving relatives, who threatened to bring eggs to throw at the politicians if they attended.
Other grieving parents criticized those who were against the politicians’ arrival. Yossi Tzur, who lost his son Assaf in the No. 37 bus bombing in Haifa in 2003, stated on Ynet that “Memorial Day is too sacred to degrade it with threats and sanctions.”

Tzur also emphasized that politicians attending memorial events do not represent their views or parties; instead, they represent the state, and this is how the state honors its fallen. Tzur continued, “political divides are temporary, and in previous years ministers went to places with different political orientations and were honored to speak.”

He added that “political divides are temporary, and in previous years not the participation of the politicians, but rather the demand to prevent them from participating is politicizing the national memorial day.”

Benny Gantz, the head of the opposition, emphasized that as part of their responsibility as elected authorities, MPs must attend the state ceremonies on Memorial Day.

To attend the festivities and execute our duties, Gantz stated, “We public officials have an obligation and a national responsibility… [We must] do our best and attend, coalition alongside opposition, to show that we are all unified today.

In spite of his assertion that he appreciated and accepted criticism of grieving families “with love,” he argued that on Memorial Day, cultural differences needed to be set aside.

“We should all enter the cemeteries for the Memorial Day ceremonies with our collective grief, both personally and nationally, and leave the public debate outside, if only for that one day.”

The suggestion of banning politicians from speaking at Memorial Day ceremonies was also rebuffed by Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter, who asserted that he and others will go “as publicly elected officials,” although acknowledging the delicate nature of the situation and the existing societal tensions.

“We are talking about state events that have a clear and recognized format, a tradition that has been in place for decades, and with all the difficulties and all the sensitivities we should not damage this tradition on Memorial Day or Independence Day,” Dichter stated on Kan Radio.




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