Over the past three years, the ultra-Orthodox community has changed its attitude toward Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers, with its leaders calling to honor the day and participate in the national mourning events.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews visit the military cemetery on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, April 28, 2009.
The results of a poll published April 11 by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 83% of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community does not consider Independence Day (observed on April 19 this year) to be a holiday, while 64% do not consider Holocaust Memorial Day, marked last week on April 12, to be a day of mourning.
On the other hand, almost all the ultra-Orthodox representatives in the Knesset and government addressed official memorial ceremonies throughout the country April 18 to mark Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. Traditionally, Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers participate in memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries across the county on that day. So, for example, Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a member of Yahadut HaTorah, laid a wreath on behalf of the government for the third consecutive year and delivered a speech at an official memorial event. In his speech at the memorial service in Kiryat Gat, Litzman emphasized unity, saying, “The entire Jewish people come together, remember and express their sense of identification with those who paid for this land with their lives. … We are all one bereaved family … regardless of age, religion or community.’’
Sound trivial? It really isn’t. Up until 2015, representatives of Yahadut HaTorah, the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox party, did not participate officially in any of these events, and certainly did not deliver speeches.
“I celebrate Independence Day and mourn on Holocaust Memorial Day and Memorial Dayfor Israel’s fallen soldiers. The poll’s results are problematic because the question defined Independence Day as a ‘holiday’; the term ‘holiday’ has religious connotations,” ultra-Orthodox journalist Shlomi Segal told Al-Monitor. “Independence Day is certainly a very happy day of national pride, but it is not a holiday in a religious sense. That’s why so many members of the ultra-Orthodox community answered the way they did.”
He said that several of the ultra-Orthodox Hasidic groups celebrated Independence Day in the past, but that the same is not true of the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community, represented in the Knesset by the Degel HaTorah faction. “Over the last few years,” he noted, “the custom of rejoicing and celebrating is making a comeback.”
Evidence of this is the barbecue grills, as Israelis like to celebrate Independence Day by grilling meat, usually in parks. People whose home has a balcony or garden celebrate there. Segal said that in the past, Independence Day was not celebrated at all in the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Illit, but during recent Independence Day events the scent of grilled meat wafted over the town, while glowing embers could be seen on almost every balcony.
Israel’s secular media often publishes on Memorial Day photos that infuriate many Israelis, or at least secular ones, showing the ultra-Orthodox refusing to stand during the siren that marks the minute of silence on Memorial Day (with some of them doing this intentionally to upset others). According to Segal, on the eve of Memorial Day, on April 17, in a supermarket in Beitar Illit, almost all of the ultra-Orthodox patrons stood during the siren, while the manager recited psalms over the loudspeaker. “In the past, you would not see anything like that,” he said.
But that was not the only place that marked the occasion. Hundreds of people participated in the memorial ceremony for fallen ultra-Orthodox soldiers, held at the cemetery in the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak. According to Yaakov Vider, who organized the event, many more people attended than in previous years. In contrast, there were also efforts by a small group of ultra-Orthodox from the most extreme groups, which do not recognize the State of Israel, to hold a protest demonstration during the Memorial Day siren in Shabbath Square (traditionally an ultra-Orthodox demonstration spot) in Jerusalem’s Meah Shearim neighborhood. But they were prevented from doing so by the police. The ultra-Orthodox website Kikar HaShabbat even called these protest attempts by extremists a “provocation.” In other words, the mainstream ultra-Orthodox media is disassociating itself from these types of behavior.
The responses to the poll’s question about Holocaust Memorial Day should also be seen within the context of religious law. When a date was selected to commemorate the Holocaust, the Chief Rabbinate asked that it not take place during the Hebrew month of Nissan, right after Passover, since it is a festive month and Jewish law forbids eulogies during that time. The Rabbinate’s position was not accepted. That’s why, when the ultra-Orthodox are asked whether they consider Holocaust Memorial Day created by the state to be a day of mourning, most will answer no. At the same time, however, many of them do mark this day.
The Chief Rabbinate chose to observe the Tenth of Tevet fasting day also as a “General Kaddish Day,” remembering all victims of the Holocaust whose date of death is unknown. Relatives of these victims can recite the Kaddish prayer for the dead on the Tenth of Tevet, which falls a week after Hanukkah.
In a video clip, ultra-Orthodox journalist Yisrael Cohen claims that the failure of the ultra-Orthodox to participate in national events such as Independence Day and the two memorial days can be attributed to the fact that “the ultra-Orthodox are not Zionists.” He said they do not consider the creation of the State of Israel as a reason for a holiday. The fact that the video clip came under sharp criticism from other ultra-Orthodox journalists and opinion-makers shows how removed Cohen is from a correct depiction of the overall mood in that community.
The clearest and most direct evidence of how deeply involved ultra-Orthodox society is in marking these national days can be found in the ultra-Orthodox media. “Look at the headlines of the biggest ultra-Orthodox websites this morning. Look at how they cover Memorial Day with respect, sensitivity and awe. It’s nothing less than moving,” wrote Minister Gilad Erdan on his Facebook page.
In fact, on both Holocaust Memorial Day and Memorial Day for Israel’s fallen soldiers, ultra-Orthodox websites devoted most of their content to these events, while emphasizing the role played by the ultra-Orthodox. Even the non-ultra-Orthodox media is paying more attention to the ultra-Orthodox casualties of Israel’s wars. Ynet, for instance, told the story of ultra-Orthodox casualties such as the Mizrahi family, who lost a grandfather, Rabbi David Mizrahi, and his grandson David.
For the most part, the Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox community has always marked these days and participated in official events. Ministers from the ultra-Orthodox Mizrahi Shas Party represent the government at official ceremonies. Last week, the weekly magazine Yom Leyom, which is one of the most prominent outlets of Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox Judaism, devoted almost an entire issue to the Holocaust, while this week’s issue is devoted mainly to Independence Day. The magazine’s editor, Yochai Danino, told Al-Monitor that part of the reason that the ultra-Orthodox are reluctant to mark these national occasions is that they feel under attack by part of the secular community and the state when it comes to various religious issues.
Yom Leyom’s Independence Day issue, which was especially festive, also discussed the debates over issues of religion and state and was highly critical of the Supreme Court. In an article by Danino himself, he gives a detailed account of the position of the late leader of the Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox community, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who accepted the idea that the establishment of the State of Israel was a “miracle” in a religious sense, too. Nevertheless, since the state that was created in 1948 does not exactly follow the guidelines espoused by the religious and ultra-Orthodox communities, participation in these national days may be expanding, but they are marked differently than many other Israelis observe them.
Iraqi Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, May 17, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Alaa al-Marjani / File.
Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday that Jews could return to Iraq if they “demonstrated loyalty,” the Hebrew news site Walla reported.
The 44-year-old Sadr heads the Saairun coalition, which won the most seats in the Iraqi parliamentary election last month.
His comment on Jews came in response to a question asked by a supporter, the Walla report said.
In the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Sadr’s Mahdi Army targeted American troops.
Iran’s base in southern Syria, as photographed by satellite imagery, in October 2017. (Screenshot)
An Arabic news source reported on the ongoing negotiations between Israel and Russia concerning the Iranian military presence in Syria, stating that Russia has agreed to “a green light” for Israeli military strikes against Iranian military target.
Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman is currently in negotiations with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow concerning the Iranian military presence in Southern Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin are also in telephone contact over the matter.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
“Paranoia predisposed him to believe in nefarious, hidden forces driving events,” the New York Times writes of Trump. “Political opportunism informed his promotion of conspiracy theories.”
But that could just as easily apply to the New York Times.
The Jewish community is in danger and so is the Free World as we know it. THE CONFLICT BEYOND ADVOCACY
The Jewish community is in danger and so is the Free World as we know it.
Reprinted from IsraelNationalNews.com.
Who would have believed that within certain communities, there could be more supporters of the radical Arab Palestinian agenda than supporters of the free, democratic and altruistic State of Israel. The relentless Arab Palestinian deceitful and well-organized propaganda, with the irrational support of many in the Western Media, may be a part of this transition.
The Democratic Party in the USA used to be a staunch supporter of the just cause of the State of Israel, but a recent Pew Research Center report showed a dangerous shift in this attitude. Within the more radical liberal branch of the Democratic party, about 38% will be anti-Israeli while the supporters of Israel will be only about 26%. When you look at the overall numbers as they relate to the Democratic party, you find that about 31% will be anti-Israeli and only 33% will be pro-Israel. On the other hand, within the Republican party, about 74% will be pro-Israel.
Yahya Sinwar, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza, speaks during a protest east of Khan Yunis, April 16, 2018.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, recently gave interviews to Al Jazeera and Lebanon’s Al-Mayadeen TV, which is close to Hezbollah, to boast about his movement’s achievements in the wake of the recent border fence demonstrations and the Great Return March. In the interviews, on May 16 and 21, respectively, Sinwar also threatened that if Hamas is forced into another round of fighting with Israel, its Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades will have a few surprises in store for the “Zionist enemy
“The Israeli nation had been constructed as a sort of gateway by which the sparks of purity would shine upon the whole of the human race the world over.” The Arvut, Baal HaSulam
The Trump-Kim summit generated a renewed sense of hope along with questions about the future. Will we witness a new and peaceful North Korea? Will Trump’s deal-making skills become instrumental in promoting world peace? And specifically among Israel analysts: Will Trump be able to make a deal to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
On May 22, Susanna Maria Feldman went missing. It was the day after the Jewish holiday of Shavuot which celebrates G-d’s revelation of the Ten Commandments to Moses and a nation of freed slaves.
The fifth commandment is, “Honor thy father and mother.” The sixth is, “Thou shalt not murder.”
And in the German city of Mainz, whose Jewish community dates back to Roman times, a worried mother waited for the worst. Susanna had gone off with her friends. They came home. And she didn’t.
What can one learn from the controversy? Basically, that it is safer to be a member of Hamas than to be gay. Palestinian leaders would much rather see young Palestinians trying to kill Israelis than talk about gays in their own society. In the world of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, there is no room for comedy or satire.
On June 8, an estimated 250,000 people attended the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. Tourists from all around the world came to Israel to watch and participate in the event. The theme of this year’s event is “The Community Makes History” — a reference to the LGBT community in Israel.
Fifty one years have passed since the Six Day War, fifty one years during which Israel has advanced on every front, in economics, technology, its society (it switched from a socialist to a nationalist regime) and, most significantly, in its geo-political situation: Two Arab countries bordering Israel, Jordan and Egypt, signed peace treaties with the Jewish State, and a number of Arab states have relations with Israel behind the scenes. Israel is an honored member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its per capita GNP approaches $40,000 per annum.
The anti-Israel boycott is despicable. In the past, the Jews were boycotted by the unenlightened. Today, the unenlightened are not alone. They’re in a coalition with the pseudo-enlightened.
Jibril Rajoub, the man who announced that if he had an atom bomb he would drop it on Israel, won a huge victory, because the game against Argentina was supposed to be the jewel in the crown. It was supposed to join the Eurovision win in proving that Israel doesn’t have to give a damn about the rest of the world. But no, it does.
We must admit that Rajoub is not the only one who defeated Israel. Israel defeated itself. Because when you do things to spite other, you end up paying the price. And we’re paying it.