Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’azmaut – Melbourne

April 20, 2010 Agencies
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Almost 2000 people packed the Arts Centre in Melbourne’s Hamer Hall last night, to join in celebrating the 62nd anniversary of Israel’s independence.

Dana Bar Zuri, Limor Greenfield and Aviram Grinberg at Yom Ha'atzmaut

A wonderful concert, filled with music, dancing and stunning video images of Israel and Israeli personalities, featured Israel’s greatest hits, traditional and contemporary… and the audience loved it!

On Sunday, Melbourne commemorated Yom Hazikaron in a very moving and dignified ceremony.

Danny Lamm, the president of the Zionist Council of Victoria spoke at both events and J-Wire publishes the text of what he had to say…

Yuval Rotem, Israel’s ambassador to Australia, heard Lamm address those who came to commemorate Israel’s fallen .

Lamm’s address:

“On this Remembrance Day for Israel’s fallen, we are joined together by the memory of our soldiers who fell in defence of the homeland.

How do we relate to such a great loss?

How does one cope with such sadness?

How can we understand just one tear of a mother on the loss of her son?

Can we look into the eyes of a girl who seeks one more loving embrace from her father?

We freeze as we observe the heartbreak of one solitary family.

Recently, another bloodstain was added to this path of sadness.

A further chapter was written in the heroic story of the fight between the forces of light and dark.

Major Eliraz Peretz, second son of the Peretz family, led his soldiers but fell, together with another of his Golani Brigade, in the Gaza border strip. His family had already lost one son, Uriel.

Uriel and Eliraz Peretz, two wonderful brothers, enlisted by choice in the IDF.

They wore its uniform with pride.

They served their battle unit with recognition of the justice of their path.

They carried their weapons of defence with joy.

Were their parents to ask their sons, our heroes, even today, “would you risk your lives again?” they would respond “without a doubt, when called to this flag, we will always be ready!”

Friends, “in every generation they rise to destroy us and G-d saves us from their hands.”

Tomorrow night, we will celebrate together with Israel, its 62nd anniversary.

Many challenges have accompanied the establishment of our State to it being one of the most advanced nations – a stable nation, leading the world in numerous fields.

The people of Israel yearn for life and peace.

The people of Israel have returned to the land of Israel, not for the short term, but forever.

Our soldiers have not died in vain. With their death, they demand of us to continue their mission: the support of the existence of the State.

May their memory be blessed.”

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The ambassador was also in attendance the following evening when Lamm addressed around 2000 members of the Melbourne community celebrating Israel’s 62nd anniversary…

Danny Lamm had this to say…

“Chag Sameach and welcome to Melbourne’s celebration of Israel’s 62nd Yom Ha’atzmaut.  Tonight, as we assemble to show our support and solidarity for Israel on this milestone, I’d like to take a moment to contrast the notion of a “birthday” with that of a nation’s anniversary.

Of course, celebrations and parties are common to both. Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut is festive, the streets are festooned with flags, fireworks light the skies and music fills the air. People will party in the streets and continue their celebrations at al ha’esh barbeque picnics on the day, which of course is a national holiday.

Hadas Bandel, Itai Franco, Rita Satchakova, Ari Wenig and Judith Perl

But Yom Ha’atzmaut, is so much more than a big, global birthday party. On Yom Ha’atzmaut, we take the time to reflect. We ask ourselves:

What challenges has Israel faced and what issues will she need to confront in the coming year?

What has Israel accomplished in the past year? What is our role in all of this?

Israel’s challenges in the coming decade are serious indeed. Unabated rocket fire from Hamas for 8 years into Israel’s southern communities led to Israel’s Cast Lead operation last year causing their immediate cessation, however rocket fire has resumed. Simultaneously we face the threat from Hezbollah in the north. More terrifying, of course, is the insidious threat facing Israel in particular and the west in general of a nuclear attack from Iran. We must not be deluded to believe, as elements in the world seem to, that Ahmedinejad’s threats are empty. Our people’s suffering in the shoah bears testament to the fact that we cannot ignore or underestimate his rantings. Ahmedinejad’s threats are no more or less than a modern version of those of the biblical Amalek, or the 20th century’s Nazis. Zachor et asher asa lecha amalek. We cannot ignore Iran’s threat to Israel.

In addition to physical threats, Israel faces a new tactic, one which her adversaries successfully prosecute without fear of censure or condemnation. Whilst not as physically threatening as bombs or missiles, delegitimisation is just as dangerous to Israel’s existence. It is occurring across the globe – through the internet, in diplomatic circles, media and even through the arts. It aims to undermine Israel’s right to exist, and its proponents are well resourced and active.

This is creating a situation where the “default option” for many people is to condemn Israel rather than support her.

In this context, the pressure being exerted by the Obama administration on Israel has resulted in the Palestinian Authority being discouraged from engaging directly with Israel and is therefore proving to be an impediment to progress. This, together with worldwide anti-semitism and the increasing anti-Israel direction of the European Union, presents yet more challenges.

It is our responsibility – individually and collectively – to encourage and enhance friendship for Israel, among our families, our colleagues, in the media and among business and political leaders.

There is so much good news to focus on, so many achievements of which to be proud.

Israel’s medical technology exports have saved more lives per capita than exports from any other country. In fact, Israel has saved more Muslim and Arab lives than all of the Arab and Muslim nations combined.

Israel has accomplished more for the environment than virtually any other country in the world. Israel is a vibrant society. Creative, audacious and successful.

It is also now the largest Jewish community in the world – a defining Jewish demographic moment.  Furthermore, it’s expected that soon the majority of Jews in the world will live in Israel. This is unprecedented since the days of the Second Temple. 62 in Hebrew is sav – which means grandfather. Israel has come to be like a grandfather to the Jewish world and has a paternal view of the Jewish diaspora and can be counted on to protect us, to support us and increasingly to encourage our communities.

Collaboratively, Israel and the diaspora, including Australia, are working together to reverse the trend of loss of Jewish identity, through Israel programs, Jewish education and the study of Hebrew. Over the past year, a record 315 young Australians have gone to Israel on a long term program.

Israel and the Jewish diaspora share a strong bond. We are a vital part of this partnership. Israel’s future and the future of the Jewish world depends not only on organisations, on governments, on programs and on leaders. The contribution of every single individual in supporting Israel through education, advocacy, promotion and fundraising – in short through connection to Israel, is paramount. To each of you sitting here – I speak to you as to family or close friends – we are all here, demonstrating our commitment in the simple and obvious way of being part of Yom Ha’atzmaut. We, my friends, need to take on the task of generating this commitment and involvement among the other members of our community who have not chosen to come here tonight. To paraphrase the famous saying – if not now, when, and if not us – who?

Melbourne’s Jewish organisations work cooperatively, and I take this opportunity to acknowledge the fantastic work done by the other communal roof bodies – the JCCV in Victoria and the ECAJ and ZFA on a national level. I also congratulate AIJAC, the AICC, AICE and the Australia Israel Leadership Forum on their outstanding achievements. The Zionist Council is made up of 51 Zionist organisations, all of whom appear in your programs, each of which provides Zionist connection, enriching the fabric of our community.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the supporters of this event – especially the companies and individuals who so generously contributed as Partners, Patrons and Corporate Sponsors – all of whom are acknowledged in your programs.

To the Zionist Council of Victoria Board and Executive, and to the production team, who have worked tirelessly on the event, thank you. To Ginette Searle, and the ZCV staff, to Michael Jankie, Adam Starr, Guy Dvir Ovadia, Deborah Leiser Moore and all 220 cast members – thank you for your dedication and commitment to making this event the very best. I would also like to thank the Community Security Group for their wonderful, voluntary contribution.

May our promotion of Israel and our relationships with Israel continue to grow and be strengthened. We must continue to remain staunch and proud in our commitment to Israel, and of course, to whole heartedly celebrate the fact that we are, as we sing in the Hatikva – a free people in our own land.

Chag Sameach, Am Yisrael Chai”

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