By Dr. Chuck Missler
A new $11 million memorial will be built on Mt. Herzl to honor Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, receiving approval from the Knesset just ahead of Israel's birthday celebrations. The State of Israel will celebrate its 64th birthday on Thursday, April 26.
Sirens sounded on Tuesday evening as Israel's Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers began at sundown. The sirens will wail again Wednesday morning on one of Israel's most serious days. The day has great meaning for the Israelis, many of whom have friends or family who have died. Wednesday evening, however, the mourning will turn into joy as celebrations begin for Israel's Independence Day. The 5th of Iyyar marks the 64th anniversary of the State of Israel and another year of Israel's successful survival in a hostile world.
Tuesday evening began the sober day in Israel as its people remembered the 22,993 men and women who have died for Israel since 1860. That was the year Jews began to leave the safety of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods. At 8:00pm Tuesday night, a one-minute siren sounded in communities all across Israel. Vehicles stopped, and Israelis rose to their feet to remember their fallen countrymen. Again the sirens will sound on Wednesday morning at 11:00am. Again everybody will stop what they were doing and stand in honor of the fallen for two minutes. Military ceremonies around the country will begin immediately after the sirens have quieted, and other ceremonies will be held to honor the Victims of Terror as well as foreign volunteers from around the world who came to fight on Israel's behalf during the War of Independence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a ceremony in Yad Lebanim in Jerusalem Tuesday evening, along with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Netanyahu wrote to the families of Israel as he does every year, saying, "As a son to a bereaved family, Memorial Day has special significance for me. This day isn't just a national memorial day, it is also a private memorial day for me and the members of my family." The Prime Minister's brother Yonatan Netanyahu was killed during the famous Operation Entebbe raid on July 4, 1976, in which 102 Air France hostages were saved after PFLP terrorists hijacked the plane to Entebbe, Uganda.
At sundown Wednesday, Remembrance Day will end and Israel's Independence Day festivities will begin. The late Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the first Chief Rabbi of the IDF and the man who set the date for Remembrance Day, explained the transition between the two days in this way:
"We view the warriors who fall in battle as those who sprout forth life. The life of a nation grew out of this blood... This day must be more than mourning: We must remember, we must grieve, but it must [also] be a day of majesty and vision."
Stage shows and concerts will kick off in the evening, and the celebration will continue throughout Thursday. The army will hold air and sea displays, and a ceremony for outstanding soldiers will be held. The International Bible Quiz will take place in Jerusalem.
"Who would have thought that after having had to fight seven wars, endure two Intifadas and bear-up against ongoing terrorist attack that the Jewish state would remain democratic and free despite little peace with its neighbors and no resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?" writes Los Angeles Rabbi John Rosove.
Israel has had a rough 64 years, from its War of Independence in 1948, to battles for its existence in 1967 and 1973, and through the constant threat of terror acts within its borders. Israel's security forces are some of the best trained in the world. At one time, every one of Israel's near neighbors was its enemy. It faced hostile armies on all borders. Now, Israel is at peace with Jordan and maintains a relatively stable non-war with Syria as well as the new government in Egypt for the time being. It has serious enemies in the international community and among terror groups within its territories, but it also has some very strong friends. Even then, with God's help, Israel can take care of itself.
Israel's population has grown in the past 64 years. There are 7,881,000 Israelis on this year's Independence Day, up from just 806,000 when the nation was established. About 73.5 percent of Israelis are Jews and 20.6 percent are Arabs. About 161,000 babies were born in Israel during the last year, and more than 19,000 immigrants have come to live in the country, while another 8,000 moved away.
Israel is the land of the Bible, and Jerusalem is the City of David, the city in which the Messiah will take His throne. As Israel celebrates another year of its existence, it also brings us one year closer to that day when the Son of David will begin his earthly rule, and the wolf will lay down in peace with the lamb. There will be plenty of false cries of "peace" before that day, followed by great turmoil. Still, that day will come, and the Messiah will reign, praise the Lord.
Happy Birthday, Israel.
Israel marks 64 years of independence • FOX News
PM: Throughout history, Jews have overcome all enemies • Jerusalem Post
‘Because of the fallen we are able to exist,’ PM tells memorial gathering • The Times of Israel
Missions around the world celebrate Israel's independence • YnetNews
Israel Through The Eyes Of Scripture • SpiritandTruth.org (Tony Garland)