Commemorating the Australian Aborigines Who Fought to Liberate the Land of Israel from the Ottoman Empire

Last Wednesday, a ceremony was held in the town of Tzemaḥ, near the Sea of Galilee, unveiling a sculpture in commemoration of the battle that took place there in 1918 when Australian cavalrymen—many of whom were Aborigines—stormed a German position as part of the larger struggle between Britain and the Ottomans for control of the land. Ofer Aderet describes the encounter. (Free registration may be required.)

Under the cover of darkness, [guided] only by the light of the moon, the Australian cavalry drew their swords and galloped toward the local train station, a strategic point in those days. The German enemy, allied with the Ottoman empire, had barricaded itself in the stone station building. But the Australians, fighting for the British crown, were undeterred. They surged forward aloft on their steeds and . . . fought face to face with bayonet and sword.

The fighting ended at 5:30 AM, shortly after dawn. About 100 German soldiers were dead and many more were injured. Hundreds were captured. The Australians paid a price, too: fourteen dead, dozens injured, and half their horses would never gallop again.

Jack Pollard, a grandson of one of the fighters, came to Tzemaḥ to inaugurate a statue, The Aborigine and His Horse, commemorating his grandfather and dedicated to all the Aborigine soldiers who fell during World War I. The sculpture depicts [the elder] Pollard holding a Bible and bending over the grave of his brother in arms. The horse in the rear also bows its head toward the fresh grave. The statue was designed by an Australian artist and manufactured using a 3-D printer.

About two years ago, during the centennial of World War I, James Lingwoodock, grandson of one of the Aborigine fighters [who fought in the Palestine campaign] visited Israel. Alongside other descendants of the fighters, he participated in reenactments of the battles.

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On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics