On Remembrance Day, a Tribute to the Indomitable Israeli Spirit

Today is Israel’s day of remembrance for those fallen in its wars, which, at sunset, gives way to Yom Ha-Atsma’ut—independence day. At the annual ceremony at Mount Herzl marking the transition from the day of mourning to the day of celebration, Rachel Frenkel, Bat-Galim Shaer, and Iris Yifrach will light a candle together. The respective sons of these three women were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas while hitchhiking home in the summer of 2014, in what became the opening sortie of the ensuing Gaza war. Ruthie Blum comments:

Rather than attempting to dissipate their devastation by wallowing in self-pity and casting blame in every direction, . . . Frenkel, Shaer, and Yifrach channeled it into an optimistic endeavor. Mere months after their personal tragedy, the three mothers partnered with Jerusalem’s then-mayor Nir Barkat to honor their son’s lives by launching a cash prize to recognize the “efforts of organizations and individuals in Israel and the diaspora who actively work to advance unity throughout Jewish communities and Israeli society.”

It is for this reason that Culture Minister Miri Regev made an exception to the current rule of having a maximum of two people light a single torch of the twelve that are ceremoniously lit on the eve of its independence day, the theme of which this year is “Saluting the Israeli Spirit.”

Regev explained her decision by calling the three “the heroes . . . who, in the face of heart-piercing grief, chose to open a gate of the love of Israel to honor their loved ones.” Regev was right, of course. But these women joining hands to wish their country a happy birthday straight from visiting their sons’ graves is a feat of internal strength that would better be described as otherworldly. For this, they should be granted a lot more than the opportunity to light a torch—a privilege that each would gladly forfeit in exchange for being able to hold her son in her arms one last time.

Read more at Dallas Jewish Monthly

More about: Israeli Independence Day, Israeli society, Palestinian terror, Protective Edge, Yom Ha-Zikaron


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship