I just stood for the 11 am siren on Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day. I am by myself in the house, so it may seem odd to stand to attention, yet I feel the need to do so to commemorate the fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism who have died for the independence and sovereignty of our country, Israel. In fact there have been 23,741 fallen soldiers and 3,150 victims of terrorism in the history of our Land since 1860, when the return to Zion began and when statistics started to be counted.
These numbers may seem high and the effect of them and the tens of thousands injured (not counted) have certainly been traumatic for the families and friends bereaved. Yet, as I like to remind people, the number is only a small fraction of the 6 million Jews murdered in Europe when they had no army to protect them. Having arms and soldiers turns out to be much safer than not having them.
After the memorial ceremonies, the national one being held in Jerusalem with ceremonial torch lighting, there will be the sudden change to celebration when Yom Ha’atzmaut, Indpendence Day, begins this evening at dusk. There are usually fireworks and major events all over the country, as well as the national celebration in Jerusalem with marching bands and singers. There are no longer street parades of military equipment as there used to be in the early days of the State (which I witnessed in 1964-6 when I lived here), since it is no longer considered appropriate and in fact is no longer necessary to impress everyone with our military capability.
So Israel is now 71 years of age, and the total population has passed 9 million! Of these ca. 75% are Jews and ca. 20% Arabs and the rest mainly non-Arab Christians. Israel is ranked highly in military power, economic development and innovation. It lags in several other areas, but overall is one of the highest countries for citizen satisfaction. Happy Independence Day!