Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Days in Conflict

At An Unsealed Room, Allison Kaplan Sommer writes movingly about Israel's Memorial Day:
"The entire country mourns for generations of young people who lost their lives at terribly young ages – who will forever be age 18, 19 or 20. No generation is untouched. Some of them died in the country’s early wars, without which it wouldn’t exist. The most recent, immediate losses, the soldiers who died over the past 13 years that I have lived here are especially meaningful to me: many of them died rooting out a terrorist who might have easily harmed me or my kids.

"Israel has a citizen’s army. The people who die in wars aren’t professional soldiers, many of them had no affection for things military. They were doing what they had to do to protect their country, whether or not they agreed with ever decision their leaders made...

"On Memorial Day, no one is cool, cynical, skeptical or detached. Even the most rebellious kids with tattoos and piercings stand silent in respect for their fallen friends, neighbors, and relatives. It’s an all-encompassing experience like no other. And it shows that underneath the surface of fussing, fighting, and squabbling over politics, religion, race, and ethnicity that makes many people throw up their hands and call Israeli society hopelessly fractured, there is a strong solid core of unity and sense of shared fate that remains firm underneath it all."

That this comes so soon after Holocaust Remembrance Day only adds to the solemnity of the season, and undoubtedly makes Israelis appreciate their Independence Day even more. However, on May 2, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have their own commemoration:
"The Nakba, which means "catastrophe" in Arabic, will be commemorated with a traditional procession organized by the committee for the uprooted villagers on the land of Um Alzinat, a Mount Carmel village abandoned in 1948.

"The term Nakba refers to the outcome of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, during which about 700,000 Palestinians fled from villages and cities in the area, which eventually became the State of Israel. They were never allowed to return, and their land was seized by the government and given to Jewish immigrants.

"Marchers in the procession, sponsored by the Israeli Arab Follow-up Committee, will carry posters inscribed with the names of some 530 Arab villages that were uprooted or abandoned in 1948. The march will culminate with a large gathering of Arab MKs and representatives of the uprooted residents as well as Jewish and Arab organizations."

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Yesha Council has condemned a Nakba commemoration as "incitement," and demanded an investigation. Amidst it all, violence continues:
"Undercover soldiers from the elite Duvdevan unit surrounded the three-story house in which Abdullah was staying and fired warning shots when they failed to get a response to their demand that he come out of the building. IDF sources said soldiers discerned suspicious activity and opened fire on the house, shooting Itaf Zalat, 44, in the head and killing her. One of her four children, Ahlam, was moderately to seriously wounded by the gunfire...

"'We heard the shouts but we didn't understand who the soldiers meant, and within a short amount of time, me, the three girls and the son and two concerned neighbors came over and for an hour we tried to understand what was going on outside,' Zalat said. 'We heard the soldiers running and climbing on nearby buildings, but we didn't know what was happening or even whether there really was a wanted man in the house'...

"Yusef Zalat also said the soldiers would not allow an ambulance to pick up his wounded daughter from the building, so he and two neighbors had carried her to an ambulance stationed close to where the soldiers were standing...

"Meanwhile, the Shin Bet security service said yesterday that the would-be suicide bomber who was captured on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway on March 21 is an Islamic Jihad activist from the Jenin area who had been working illegally in Druze villages for an extended period. He is believed to have been targeting the bus stop at the Checkpost intersection in Haifa."


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