Several ministers have said that they will not attend the state ceremonies, typically attended by a government member, in what is seen as a concession to bereaved families before Israel’s Memorial Day, which falls on Tuesday.
Tens of grieving families have voiced strong opposition, claiming they do not want government personnel present at the ceremonies.
Minister of Housing and Construction Yitzhak Goldknopf (UTJ) declared on Sunday that he would not attend the Memorial Day ceremony.
The Kiryat Gat chapter of Yad Labanim, a representative group that honors the memory of Israel’s fallen soldiers, welcomed the minister to the ceremony.
Goldknopf decided to skip the ceremony when grieving families expressed their displeasure with the haredi minister’s attendance. Yaakov Tessler, the deputy minister for culture and sports (UTJ), likewise declared that he wouldn’t attend the Be’er Tuvia celebration.
As Goldknopf stated in his letter, “I had a strong desire to respect the memories of the fallen, to say a chapter of Psalms in their memories, and to say a few words about them and to their dear families.”
“However, I was informed that some grieving families may feel uncomfortable, in addition to others who sought my attendance as a government representative. Although it is wrong, I’d rather not offend them.
“I’m not interested in acting, God forbid, as an excuse to disturb such a special and important day,” Goldknopf continued. I will thus visit the Western Wall during the event to recite Psalms in honor of the deceased and to pray to the Creator for peace over us and all of Israel.
Many others urged the chareidi ministers to disregard the criticism and participate in the state ceremonies, including former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana and Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich. Smotrich pleaded with the chareidi ministers to disregard the criticism and to continue identifying with the grief of Memorial Day, which had begun to be recognized in the chareidi public.
Kahana said he would go with Goldknopf to the ceremony to emphasize that despite political differences, “we are one nation.”
Along with the other two UTJ ministers, Galit Distel-Atbaryan, the minister of public diplomacy, declared on Sunday that she too will abide by the dead families’ requests for her to skip a memorial service in Nes Ziona.
In response to criticism from grieving families over her not serving in the IDF, Minister May Golan (Likud) said she would not participate in the Memorial Day event in Rishon Lezion.
The government will be represented during the ceremony at the Hurfeish Regional Council by Minister Meir Porush (UTJ).
Despite strong objections from some of the departed relatives, Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir declared that he would represent the state at the Beersheva grave service.