ANZAC Day in Jerusalem

April 25, 2015 by Michael Kuttner
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On Friday 24 April a large crowd of ex. pats. Australians and New Zealanders joined by visitors on UIA & JNF missions and diplomats, gathered at the Commonwealth War Cemetery on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem, to honor the sacrifice and memory of ANZACS who gave their lives for their countries.

This year is the 100th. Anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and therefore special emphasis was made of the battle in which so many Anzacs participated and died.

President Rivlin lays a wreath.   Photo:  Kobi  Gidon  GPO

President Rivlin lays a wreath. Photo: Kobi Gidon GPO

Under cloudy skies and with a stiff cold wind blowing, President Reuven Rivlin accompanied by Dave Sharma, Australian Ambassador and Gad Propper, Honorary New Zealand Consul, took their places. A guard of honor comprised of soldiers from Australia & NZ then marched slowly to take their places in front of the war memorial.

The President laid a wreath and spoke at the ceremony which took place at the Commonwealth Military Cemetery on Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem, and this year focused on the commemoration of 100 years since the Battle of Gallipoli.

President Rivlin said, “The bond between the State of Israel, and Australia and New Zealand, is historic and strong. This bond is based on the common values our nations share: The pioneering spirit, creativity, and faith.  The participation of the Zion Mule Corps. in this tragic and heroic chapter of history, was crucial to the establishment of the State of Israel. It was then our leaders learned that no nation can – nor should – stand by itself, and that the Jewish people will always have you as true partners.   We are standing here today, honoring ANZAC soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the name of liberty. The liberty, we all enjoy today; liberty that should not be taken for granted. May we always remember our heroes, the values they carried, and the cause they died for. May their memory be in our hearts forever.”

President Rivlin with Australian ambassador Dave Sharma   Photo: Kobi Gidon

President Rivlin with Australian ambassador Dave Sharma Photo: Kobi Gidon

Australian Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma said, “For Australia, Gallipoli was our first major military action as a newly independent nation.  We went on to make many further sacrifices in the First World War, and all the wars that we have fought since that time.  But part of Australia’s national character was forged, our identity constructed, and much of our national myth built, on the western shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula.  These attributes cluster around several values: endurance; courage, ingenuity; good humor – especially in the face of adversity; a healthy disrespect for protocol and hierarchy – a national trait that is as much Israeli as it is Australian; and, of course, ‘mateship’.”

Rabbi Raymond Apple

Rabbi Raymond Apple

Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, a former Senior Rabbi to the Australian Armed Forces and now resident in Jerusalem, recited a special Anzac centenary prayer. This was followed by addresses given by Dave Sharma and President Rivlin. Both stressed the enormous contributions made by the Anzacs to the liberation of Palestine which represented the first steps in the return of Jewish sovereignty and the eventual creation of Israel. The contributions made by Jewish soldiers, from General Monash to those in the ranks, towards the Allied war effort were praised.

Gad Propper recited the poem “In Flanders Fields.” This was followed by the laying of wreaths on behalf of Australia, New Zealand, Israel, UK, Canada, India and Turkey as well as representatives of various Jewish groups, including Zionist youth leaders on programmes in Israel.

The last post was sounded by a member of the Fijian armed forces and after a prayer the impressive main ceremony ended.

A short memorial service was then conducted by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple in the section of the cemetery which contains the graves of Jewish soldiers. Each grave was marked with an Israeli flag and a yahrzeit candle. Following Rabbi Apple’s short remarks, the memorial prayer for the fallen soldiers was chanted and then the entire assembled gathering said Kaddish (the prayer for those who died).

The beautiful setting of an immaculately maintained cemetery overlooking Israel’s Capital combined with a most meaningful ceremony ensured that “we will always remember them.”

With agencies



2 Responses to “ANZAC Day in Jerusalem”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Anzac Day is truly Australia’s most important official day on the calendar, one where reflection brings an essence or dimension to our consciousness that is informed by the very best men and women have to offer – the courage, endurance and ingenuity that Dave Sharma spoke of, and a realisation of what is worthwhile and possible by human effort and endeavour. That these attributes can and have been used and abused by some in authority in different arenas of war is not the point here. The point is remembering how these were qualities were summoned and applied by ordinary individuals in extraordinary circumstances and the dreadful toll in some cases that was extracted. Also, the end result in many cases that became so beneficial, such as the demise of the Ottoman Empire and pushing back of the Germans on the Western Front during the First World War and the crushing of the Nazis and their hideous regime during the Second.

    I agree with Henry Herzog – call it for what it was, a genocide perpetrated on the Armenian people. How can political diplomacy ever be more important that this fact? How can Israel in particular allow that as an excuse for using euphemism in regard to this event? And Australia, with all its talking the talk, is not one to lead the way internationally (except perhaps with whales as an issue) – New Zealand has more grit in this. The Turks need to face up to it, as the Germans did. If they choose not to and become the only country in the world with a different version of events, they will soon enough learn this need not interfere with trade and other communications. How much longer will we allow them to dictate?

  2. Henry Herzog says:

    A fitting tribute to honour our fallen service men and women who gave their lives for Australia; although in many instances, not really knowing what they were there for, as many still to this day, don’t know. But they gave their lives thinking it was for the freedom of future generations of Australians. But what an absolute shame that so many nations, including Australia and Israel, don’t have the courage, as our fallen had shown, 100 years ago, to recognize and call the Turkish genocide of the Armenians for what it was; genocide.

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