Anzac Day in Jerusalem

April 27, 2018 by Michael Kuttner
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The Commonwealth War Memorial Cemetery in Jerusalem was the site of the annual Anzac Day commemoration.

From: Michael Kuttner

Instead of the usual bright spring weather usually associated with 25 April, this year’s ceremony took place under cloudy and windy conditions with the threat of rain looming. Organized and conducted by the Australian Embassy the short but nevertheless moving proceedings demonstrated that this Memorial Day still resonated with local expatriates and visitors alike. The immaculate graves, lovingly tended, were a stark reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers in both world wars. Their heroic efforts to liberate Palestine from Ottoman rule and then years later their defense of mandated Palestine from Nazi conquest will always be remembered by Israelis.

This was exemplified by the presence of a Knesset member who also laid a wreath on behalf of the Knesset and the State of Israel. Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Australian and New Zealand Governments as well as representatives from the USA, UK, India, Canada, Turkey and Germany. In addition various groups including Australian youth in Israel at present honoured the fallen soldiers.

Included in the ceremony was a recitation of Psalm 23 by Rabbi Edward Belfer who also later conducted a short service near the graves of fallen Commonwealth Jewish soldiers. The main address was given by Chris Cannan, Australian Ambassador, who mentioned the unforgettable contribution made by General Sir John Monash and other Jewish servicemen.

The proceedings concluded with the playing of the Last Post, one minute’s silence and the playing of the National Anthems of Israel, New Zealand and Australia.

This year’s event was noticeable by the absence of any New Zealand army representative. As usual, the Honorary Consul for NZ was present but once again nobody from the NZ Embassy (based in Turkey) seemed to be able to make the short trip to Jerusalem.

Everyone participating in this annual tribute in Israel’s Capital cannot fail to be moved by the concluding lines of the Ode to the Fallen:

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning – we will remember them”