Peres: Be on the right side, our side
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks during a Remembrance Day ceremony at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem on Monday
Remembrance Day ceremony held at Western Wall as nation observes minute-long silence in honor of 22,570 fallen. 'We don't want war, but if war is forced on us, I suggest to our friends and enemies to be on the right side, on the side that has always won and will always win,' president says in opening address
The ceremony marking the commencement of Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism began Monday evening as the wail of the siren accompanying the nationally observed minute-long silence faded. The ceremony, held by the Western Wall, was attended by President Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
On the eve of Remembrance Day the number of fallen soldiers and civilians since the year 1860 stands at 22,570. Over the course of the past year 133 were killed.
The ceremony began with the lighting of the memorial torch by the widow of Captain Jonathan Netanel, who was killed during Operation Cast Lead
in the Gaza Strip. President Peres delivered the opening address. "We do not want war, but if war is forced on us, I suggest to our friends and enemies, as one, to be on the right side, on our side, on the side that has always won and will always win," he said. "For 61 years now we have been burying our children and there is no end in sight. This year still, our existence is under threat. From near and far they rise to destroy us – and to their astonishment, we are not frightened, we are not running away from the fight," Peres said.
Soldiers by the Western Wall this evening (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Peres asked to address the bereaved families, saying: "The Hebrew language has yet to find the right words to ease the pain in your eyes, the ache in your heart that you carry. The words may come from the heart, and maybe they even go into the heart, but they are just words. And you go back home and the words do not bring your dear son, your wonderful daughter, home. We wish you would find comfort in the knowledge that an entire people, an entire nation, sees itself as sharing your tragedy."
Peres was followed by Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi. "Here, standing opposite the rows of stone that form the Western Wall, beats the heart of the Jewish people, the answer to the prayers of the entire nation for thousands for years. I stand here and beside me stand all the IDF's regular and reserve soldiers, and we salute our friends who gave their lives so that tomorrow we can all celebrate another year of independence.
"We are a nation accustomed to struggle, a nation that must still live by its sword and that knows all too well the bitter taste of loss and longing," Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi said
Earlier in the day at a memorial service held in Jerusalem held on Ammunition Hill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said: "Our existence as a nation and country depends on our unity." He vowed that the government would spare no effort to "track down the missing Israeli soldiers and bring kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit home.
Addressing the bereaved families who attended the ceremony, Netanyahu said "the battlefields of Israel's ongoing war, in which the protectors of the land have fallen, are scattered throughout the country and its borders. It did not help those who hate Israel. The State of Israel triumphed.
"The price we have paid and are still paying is unbearable, I know," the PM said. "My family has also been struck by bereavement; your sorrow is my sorrow. I feel the pain deep in my heart and carry with me the memory, the yearning and the burden of the loss."
The formal state ceremony will be held on Tuesday at 11:00 am at the Mt. Herzl military cemetery. The ceremony will start with the a two-minute silence, sirens will sound throughout the country. Memorial ceremonies will be held in all the military ceremonies. At 1:00 pm a state ceremony honoring the victims of terror attacks will be held at Mt. Herzl
10 am in Mea Shearim
Neturei Karta protest during moment of silence
Members of radical anti-Zionist stream hold protest in Jerusalem during moment of silence for Holocaust victims, saying 'Zionists cynically abuse the Holocaust for their own purposes'
Why haredim don't honor Memorial Day
Ultra-Orthodox don't participate in national Memorial, Independence Day not out of spite, but because these days mean nothing to them
The folklore that accompanies Israel's national Memorial and Independence Days, includes the perpetual question: What's the ultra-Orthodox's opinion? Will they stand for the moment of silence? Do they respect the memory of the fallen? Do they celebrate Independence Day? Do they rejoice in it?
The ritual question, which finds its expression through the images of those haredim who walk during the memorial siren, or through the heated statements of young haredim in Bnei Brak and Jerusalem, sparks a seemingly unexpected outrage among the state's secular residents: "Why don't they care?" "Why don't they stand up during the siren?" "Why are they indifferent towards Independence Day?" And so on.
And the truth is, dear seculars, that you're totally right. The haredim don't care. Memorial Day and Independence Day are not part of their historical chronology. The ultra-Orthodox don't stand up in silence during the siren, not because this is a "gentile custom"; they don't stand up in silence because this day symbolizes nothing to them, because on this day young haredim also don't recite Mishnayot or hold other religious ceremonies in memory of the fallen.
The haredi street does not celebrate Independence Day not because haredim think – like the eccentric minority that calls itself Neturei Karta – that this is a sad day, but because Independence Day, which for many is a national day and a highly important historical date, is for them a day like any other.
Many of the sector's members barbecue on Independence Day not because they wish to take part in the joyful holiday spirit, but mainly because it's an opportunity to light fire on a day off that's not a Shabbat.
Do the haredim do so out of alienation, disgust, or even wickedness? It appears not. The haredim do not celebrate or mark these holidays because they feel no connection to them. Most of them have never served in the army, and their parents did not take part in Israel's wars. Very few are the fallen, the injured or the combatants among the haredi family or neighborhood. So who have they got to remember and commemorate?
The ultra-Orthodox have never been involved in the crucial decisions of Israel's history, whether because they didn't want to be or because nobody asked them. Israeli democratic processes, which for the secular teenager seem trivial – such as party institutions, courts, primary elections, or even a student union, are alien to the haredi adolescent. What have they got to celebrate?
The two poles, which are so far apart during the rest of the year, aspire for unnatural synthesis on holidays and festivals. The haredim ask the seculars to be sad on Tisha B'Av, abstain from bread on Pesach, and study Torah on Shavuot. The seculars, who are, justifiably, unable to produce sorrow on the merry days of July-August and wail the destruction of an ancient house of ritual that means nothing to them, practically demand of the haredim to produce joy or sorrow on days that the haredim have no relation to.
So, dear seculars, get off our backs on memorial and Independence Day. We truly have nothing against them. We have no reaction to your grief, and we do not despise your joy, but however – they mean nothing to us.
Turkish-Syrian exercise prompts Israeli review of sophisticated arms sales to Ankara
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
April 27, 2009, 3:21 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israel's Mark 3 Chariot tank
Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak commented Monday, April 27, that Turkey's decision to hold three days of military maneuvers with Syria is "disturbing."
And that is not all. The exercise will be accompanied Monday or Tuesday by the signing of a letter of intent between Turkish defense minister Vecdi Gonul and his Syrian counterpart Hassan Turkmani for cooperation in the defense industry.
DEBKAfile's military sources report that the signing and the exercise are major landmarks on the shrinking road of military and trading ties between Turkey and Israel. In 2009, Ankara pared exchanges down to $2.2 billion in 2009 and expanded its trade with Syria to $2.6 billion.
Israel is now in a hurry to slash its military exchanges with Turkey to prevent the leakage of military secrets to an avowed Arab enemy.
Ankara is furthermore defaulting on payments for military purchases and other contracts. It has piled up a debt of several million dollars to Israel's military and air industries, in payment for a $5 billion deal to build a Mark 3 Chariot plant in Turkey. Production of 1,000 Israeli tanks, to have been Turkey's main theater tank, should have begun in early 2009.
Construction is now halted.
Israel will also discontinue sales of its world-class unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and sharply reduce its military ties with Turkey which go back to the 1960s.
DEBKAfile's military sources report that Ankara deliberately played up the scale of the joint exercise, in which Turkish and Syrian border units rather than substantial military forces are involved. Its disclosure was a strong statement of the Erdogan government's policy of trading its extensive strategic relations with Israel for ties with Syria.
For DEBKAfile's original exposure of the joint exercise click
Our sources stress that this trend began to emerge three years ago, although the Sharon and Olmert governments did their best to keep it out of sight. DEBKAfile's Ankara sources report that the indirect Israel-Syrian peace talks brokered by Turkey last year were used by prime minister Ehud Olmert to conceal this setback in Israel's foreign relations.
Furthermore, Israel's defense and foreign ministries as well as top IDF ranks held on to the conviction that the installment of a pro-Islamic government in Ankara would not detract from the long-held ties of cooperation and trust between Turkey and Israel.
DEBKAfile's intelligence sources report they misread the signals. The Turkish armed forces is no long the body it once was. The generals of today are in harmony with Recip Tayyep Erdogan's decision to turn Turkey's back on Israel.
NATO member Turkey and Syria hold first joint military exercise
DEBKAfile Special Report
April 26, 2009, 5:41 PM (GMT+02:00)
Turkish tanks head for Syria
The joint Turkish-Syrian tank and armored infantry exercise backed by air power begins across the Turkish-Syrian border Monday, April 27, and lasts three days.
DEBKAfile's military sources stress that it is the first joint military maneuver any NATO member, including Turkey, has ever carried out with Syria. It appears to have received a nod from the Obama administration and another first: Never before has an important NATO power staged a joint exercise with any Arab army.
Ankara's decision to launch the drill on the day Israeli commemorates its war dead - in league with Iran's leading ally - is a measure of how far Turkey's longstanding strategic pact with the Jewish state has fallen by the wayside of recent changes.
Washington's approval underscores its new policy of boosting the strength of the Syrian army as partner in a strong a three-way military coalition with Turkey and Lebanon.
Ankara made its announcement while US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was on a short visit to Beirut.
It comes only four days after another first US step: Tuesday, April 22, DEBKAfile's exclusive sources reported that the Obama administration had just approved a large Turkish arms sale to the Lebanese army assigning Turkish military instructors to train Lebanese army units (half of whose personnel are Shiites sympathetic to Hizballah.)
For full item click HERE
Neither of the Obama administration's actions took into account Israel's vital security interests; nor was Jerusalem consulted about the strategic changes on its borders - or even informed.
DEBKAfile reports that both US drastic policy reverses are causing extreme consternation in Israel's top security echelons, which are criticizing the new Netanyahu government for taking too long to respond to the dire security setbacks piling up around its borders. The most troubling development confronting Israel in years is the grouping together of the Turkish, Syrian and Lebanese armies.
According to the statement from Ankara, the joint exercise "aims to boost friendship, cooperation and trust between Turkish and Syrian land forces and to increase the capability of border troops to train and work together."
In recent weeks, too many developments are closing in too fast and too dangerously for Binyamin Netanyahu to put the whole can of worms on hold until he has a chance to figure out his policies and talk to Barack Obama in the coming month. The dynamic on the ground will be in full flight by then. Too late, the Israeli prime minister will find the security situation running out of his control. Turning back the clock will be hopeless and he will find himself fed some unpalatable accomplished facts.
'Israel must surrender to Arabs or face war'
Jordan's King Abdullah appeared to threaten Israel with war in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" program on Sunday.
Abdullah, widely regarded as by far the most moderate of Arab leaders, said that if Israel is not pressured to meet Arab land-for-peace demands it will face war within 18 months.
Abdullah did not reveal how he could so precisely predict when the next Arab-Israeli war would erupt, but earlier in the day he used that knowledge to urge US President Barack Obama to put heavy pressure on Israel to surrender to Arab demands.
Abdullah, like Obama, wants to make a Saudi peace initiative that requires a full Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, including in Jerusalem, the basis for regional peace.
Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas also chimed in on Sunday, telling Jordanian television that the next play in the peace process belongs to Obama, and he hopes the Americans will finally apply the kind of pressure the Arabs want on Israel.
"The ball is in America's court," said Abbas. " needs to ask itself if it wants peace, or to continue with the status quo."
In related news, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad surprised a few people in the region on Sunday told ABC news that he would accept the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if the Palestinians if that is the will of the Palestinians.
What was left out of the report was the fact that the Palestinians pay lip service to the two-state solution, but reject Israeli conditions for peace - such as recognizing Israel as the Jewish state - and have introduced their own unacceptable conditions - such as the right to flood Israel with so called "Palestinian refugees."
The report also failed to note that since its inception under Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority has not tried very hard to hide the fact that the total destruction of Israel remains a long-term goal.
Media fails to report terrorist shooting against Israeli settlers
An Arab terrorist shot at least a dozen bullets at a car carrying six Israeli Jews south of Hebron last week, but neither the Israeli nor the international medias paid the attack any attention.
Israel National News finally brought the incident to light after being contacted by one of the victims of the shooting.
No one was injured in the attack, and eyewitnesses said the terrorist managed to flee into a nearby Palestinian village before Israeli security forces arrived at the scene.
Security officials later confirmed to Israel National News that an attack had taken place, and that at least a dozen bullets shells had been found at the scene, but said all other details were being withheld while they hunt down the perpetrator.
But it was the Israeli media's silence that was so concerning, considering efforts in recent years to stir up contempt for religious Jewish settlers, especially those in the Hebron region, who tend to take their God-given right to the land more seriously than others.