Fallen Kiwis remembered in Israel

March 11, 2010 by Yitzhak Treister
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There were definitely some warning signs, Shoshan Purim in Jerusalem, a bizarre spy episode in Dubai, but the surprises that awaited me in Ness Tziona took me totally off guard.

It all began when I parked my car near the event last Monday and the first sight I saw was a man in a kilt with bag pipes and a Scottish regiment jacket. At first glance he seemed to be Sephardi and Israel so I assumed that they celebrate two days of Purim in Ness Tziona and this was someone just getting in to the spirit! However, my next thought was there is no doubt about this place; there are no walls from Joshua’s day here and no way is Shoshan Purim celebrated here.

I moved to investigative mode and asked him in Hebrew what exactly he was doing here. Appears the lad is a doctor by the name of Uri who lives in Ness Tziona and learnt the bagpipes whilst studying medicine for a few years in NZ. He had been drafted for the day’s ceremony.

What a moving ceremony; a 90 year old, long overdue wrong was righted. To honour the memory of 50 brave young Kiwis who gave their lives in battle, about  150 of us gathered together. Yes, they deserved the presence of the  NZ Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Murray McCulley and yes, they deserved the presence of Ms Andrea Smith the NZ ambassador to Turkey and Israel and yes, they deserved to have deputy Israeli prime minister Silvan Shalom there along with the mayor of Ness Tziona. Indeed it was a very appropriate and moving ceremony including the unveiling of a memorial for the soldiers and the naming of a street in Ness Tziona after them.

Silvan summed it up very nicely when he drew a parallel between the mission sent by Israel to Haiiti a few weeks ago and these soldiers who came from half way around the world. Both had no real connection with the place they were sent to, both contributed in significant ways that made a difference, both did what they did to uphold the principles of justice, freedom and to help those in need.

Such bravery and concern for others is rare to find in today’s world. Although far in distance, NZ and Israel are close in mind.

Silvan also noted that the new Israeli ambassador to NZ Mr Shemi Tzur is soon to go to NZ, and this ceremony could not have come at a better time.

To the sound of “Uri’s” bag pipes, wreathes were laid by many including the Habo kids on the one year programme here in Israel.

All went well till I heard a very familiar tune. Afterwards I went over to Uri and told him that he had stolen the show and that I really enjoyed the sound of the pipes but……….had those poor Kiwi soldiers been able to do it when they heard the tune “Walzing Matillda”, they would have reached out of their graves and shot him!!!!!

Oh well what can you do!!!!

On a sadder note Mr Nissan Kropskey the tireless instigator of the event and former mayor of Ness Tziona and Ambassador to NZ was unable to attend as his beloved wife had passed away a few days earlier.

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