The Earliest Memorial to the Zionist Movement’s Fallen Soldiers

Today is Israel’s Day of Remembrance for those who died to protect to the Jewish state, which at sunset gives way to Yom Ha-Atsma’ut, the day of independence. Allan Arkush tells the story of how some early Zionists sought to memorialize a group of Jewish guards who were killed by Arab raiders in 1909:

The earliest literary commemoration of Zionism’s fallen heroes was a book titled Yizkor, published in Palestine in 1911 by members of Po’alei Zion (Workers of Zion). . . . The Yizkor book echoes the traditional memorial prayer [of the same name], but it doesn’t repeat it. Instead of calling on God, it begins, “Let the people of Israel remember.” As [the historian Anita] Shapira writes, “This is a collective memorial service of the people, and the people is supposed to derive conclusions from the death of its heroes and apply them to its new life.”

While Yizkor doesn’t seem to have had a significant impact in the Yishuv, a couple of rank-and-file members of Po’alei Zion found it very useful a few years later. Expelled by the Turks from Palestine at the beginning of World War I, David Ben-Gurion and Yitzḥak Ben-Zvi had made their way to the United States, where they were struggling to put their party on the map. With this aim in mind, they initiated in 1915 the publication of a Yiddish translation (for who in America could understand Hebrew?) of Yizkor. As Tom Segev writes in his recent biography of Ben-Gurion, it was “a huge success. Memorial evenings were held all across America, and Ben-Gurion became a sought-after guest.”

More remarkable is the story of how the book came to be translated into German, which can be found at the link below.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: David Ben-Gurion, History of Zionism, Yom Ha-Zikaron

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7