Speaker of the Knesset

éĺůá-řŕů äëđńú Speaker of the Knesset Speech for the Eve of Independence Day 5763 – Mt. Herzl Happy Independence Day, my brothers and sisters of Israel:

Our flag has just been raised to full mast, and once again it is flying proudly over our Holy City, on the mount of memorial and heroism, as though it were natural and self-evident; as though it were always so. But the “Yizkor” [memorial] prayer, and the sad trumpet fanfare still echoing in our ears; and the distress of Memorial day, still in our hearts – these remind us, today, as they do each year, how far all this is from self-evident. At this time, during this ongoing war against terrorism, we are not, unfortunately, in need of any reminder. For this year, like last year, we remember well, on each and every day, the terrible price of our freedom. This freedom, on whose alter were offered up such heroes as the soldier of the 51st Golan Battalion, 1st Class Sergeant Matanya Robinson, of blessed memory, who fell in the battle of Jenin, only a year ago; and Master Sergeant Tiran Arazi, of blessed memory, from the Nachshon Battalion of the Fifth Infantry Brigade, who fell the following day, on Holocaust Day last year, together with twelve other heroes, in that terrible alley of death , in the Jenin Refugee Camp. May God avenge their blood. Yardena, the twelve-year-old sister of Matanya (who was twenty two when he fell), and Mor, the eleven-year old daughter of Tiran (who was thirty three when he fell), may they live long, good lives, are standing here at my side, as we close the gates of tears and sanctify the festival of our resurrection, the Day of Independence. They are honouring us with their presence and will participate in the ceremony. In every generation, each person must feel as though he himself came from slavery to redemption, to freedom, to independence. Each year, as the flag is raised here, I remember several historical flag raisings, that have been branded in our memory, in Israel’s collective memory. I recall the raising of the official flag of the young State of Israel in front of the United Nations building in full view of the whole world, when Israel proudly joined the family of nations; I remember the improvised “Ink Flag”, the flag of excited fighters that was flown at Um Rash Rash, now Eilat, when it was conquered. I remember the flag that was flown at the end of the battle, on the top of the Mt. Hermon outpost, by the members of the Golani Brigade, when they conquered “the Eyes of the State” after having lost dozens of their comrades; and I remember the flag flown at the official ceremony, in the center of Cairo, by Israel’s first Ambassador to Egypt. But this flying of our flag on high, in the open, in full view, is not so self-evident. So much meaning is encompassed in this simple act. There is no symbol more pure to express our resurrection from the ashes, from the piles of ruins, from the blood. This raising of our flag expresses hope and determination, optimism and power, pride and even a small amount of protest against the whole world: “Look and see: We are here! This is our place, and here we will stay”! Today too, even as we celebrate fifty-five years of our independence, as a sovereign nation sure of itself, we still feel the need to wave our flag in full view, just to show them all, in a very Israeli way. Perhaps this is because today, after our great and true dream of peace, of a little tranquility, has burst over our heads, and has been proved a terrible illusion; after the great sobering up – It seems that we are all returning to take a stronger grasp on our old and good Eretz Yisrael [Land of Israel], of the songs, the culture, the symbols, and, of course, our blue and white flag. And it’s true, everyone can feel it: we are once again gathering around our group bonfire; we are removing our robe of cynicism; we are returning closer to our Israeliness, in a sort of protest: against the situation, against the terrorism, against the broken dream of peace. Independence Day, despite the situation, or perhaps just because of it, has become again a day of popular, real and simple rejoicing, shared by us all; a day when we are not ashamed to express our love, – as we once did – for this Land, for our own State. And despite the situation, and perhaps just because of the situation; just because we once again understand that nothing here is self-evident – we are filled with pride, with joy and with gratitude for what we have achieved here in fifty five years. True, we had not expected to meet our fifty fifth Independence Day like this, still in the midst of a war against terrible terrorism. If only, I could truly stand here this evening, at the beginning of our Independence Day, and make a promise to all of us that everything will be fine; that the longed-for peace – is just outside our walls; and that tomorrow a new a promising dawn will break through the skies of this wounded and bleeding land. Instead we can, all of us, look reality in the eyes, and promise ourselves and our children, that as always, as we have done throughout the past fifty five years, even if sometimes we must grit our teeth, together we shall continue to dream and to try to make it happen; together we shall continue to hope and to build; and together we shall wave the flag. Happy Independence Day, Israel!