Bereaved families: Separate mourning and celebration

Group steps up drive to institute full day between Remembrance Day and Independence Day.

April 21, 2010 07:29
2 minute read.
Miriam Peretz kisses her son Amichai during the fu

Miriam Peretz 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

Although Israel traditionally embraces the symbolism of the switch from mourning to celebration, a group of bereaved families and their supporters have recently stepped up the drive to institute a full day of separation between Remembrance Day and Independence Day.

The families explained that the abrupt turnaround prevented them from being able to truly celebrate Independence Day.

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Attorney Yosef Tamir and Shmuel Tamir-Chouraqui– the son and grandson of former justice minister Shmuel Tamir, whose IAF pilot son was killed in 1971 – initiated the effort to change the status quo a year ago. However, it’s only in recent days that public awareness of the petition has risen steeply.

“Bereaved families also have a desire to celebrate Independence Day, but the proximity to memorial day prevents us from being able to release ourselves from the feelings of pain and celebrate with the rest of the nation of Israel,” explained Tamir in a statement Sunday.

“Bereaved families are shaken up and experience great pain,” reads the petition. “Beyond the enormous psychological pain, it is also a physical effort to run [back and forth to] cemeteries, monuments and assorted memorial events. When the day is over, the bereaved want to put down their heads and rest, but instead, on their way home from the cemetery, they run into roads blocked to prepare for the Independence Day celebrations and entertainment platforms in advanced phases of construction.”

The petition acknowledges that “it is important to emphasize that our independence here was enabled by virtue of the great sacrifice made by those who fell for us, and for our life here as an independent people.”

However, it continues, that connection “will be completely maintained even if we push back Remembrance Day by just one day.”

To be implemented, Tamir’s proposal must first be approved by the Public Committee for the Commemoration of the Soldier – a civilian body appointed by the defense minister, consisting of 27 representatives of both bereaved families and the public. If the committee, which is responsible for determining the procedures for civil commemoration of military deaths, agrees to support the proposal, it will then be submitted as a bill to the Knesset.

Tamir said the families had already drafted the framework for such a bill should it reach the legislature.

But on the movement’s Facebook page – which boasts almost 2,000 members – a debate raged between the families and their supporters and numerous Israelis.

One young participant argued that “this is a terrible idea! First of all, the closeness of the two days is the entire essence! It symbolizes the fact that our existence is dependent on the price that we pay.”

He further contended that “the goal of Remembrance Day is not for the individual families to join together with the memory of their particular dead – that’s what the annual memorial [held on the day of the soldier’s death] is for. Remembrance Day belongs to all of us.”

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