JERUSALEM (May. 10)
Fireworks lit up the skies over Jerusalem tonight as Memorial Day ended and festivities began in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Israel’s independence. The transition from solemnity to the joyous mood of “Yom Haatzmaut” was marked at sundown by the kindling of a torch on Mt. Herzl by Knesset Speaker Yitzhak Shamir.
In rapid succession, 12 other torches were lit by the children and grandchildren of Israeli fighters since the days of the pioneer Hashomer. The torches symbolized the Twelve Tribes of Israel. As the flames soared into the air, a switch was thrown illuminating a giant “Shalom” sign on the hillside overlooking the capital.
Israelis, by tradition, each year precede their Independence Day celebrations with a day of remembrance for the war dead. The tributes to the fallen began last night. Today, thousands of bereaved families assembled at military cemeteries and in various arenas and auditoriums around the country for memorial services.
President Ephraim Katzir attended services in Jerusalem. Premier Menachem Begin went to Safad to honor underground fighters executed by the British Mandatory authorities in the pre-State years. Memorial parades and ceremonies were held at all military bases. The day was observed even in Cairo where a small Israeli military mission has been stationed since talks with the Egyptians were broken off last January. Yesterday, a memorial service was held in Ravenna, Italy, at the graves of 33 soldiers of the Jewish Brigade who died there during World War II.
Defense Minister Ezer Weizman addressed the families of war dead at the Haifa Memorial Garden. He said that after 30 years of war and fighting, Israel has reached a point where peace is possible. But to achieve it, Israel must be strong, he declared.
300 FESTIVITIES PLANNED
About 300 Independence Day festivities will be
There will be no massive military parade such as have been held in previous years and government plans for other grandiose events have been toned down for lack of funds. But pre-State underground veterans will march at the Hebrew University stadium tomorrow and there will be a display of some of Israel’s latest weaponry including the Merkava tank and F-15 jet fighters.
The 1978 Israel Prize will be awarded to 10 recipients at the Jerusalem theater tomorrow. President Ephraim Katzir will receive the foreign diplomatic corps at his residence in the afternoon and Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem will receive the public at David’s Tower in the Old City. More than 30,000 soldiers, police, border police and civilian guards are on special security duty for the 24-hour period. The public has been alerted to keep an eye out for suspicious-looking objects or activities.
In an Independence Day message to the nation, Katzir expressed confidence that a true and lasting peace will eventually come in spite of the “short-term crises in the negotiations.” The President added, “While we celebrate, we must reflect on how to improve society and make it more inviting for Jews abroad.” In a special message to diaspora Jewry, Leon Dulzin, chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive, stressed the need for aliya to preserve Jewish life into the 21st Century.
CELEBRATIONS AROUND THE WORLD
Israelis are not alone in celebrating their 30th anniversary. Avraham Shenker, chairman of the WZO’s Committee for Independence Day Festivities, announced that more than 300 events will take place in Jewish communities abroad.
These include “Shalom Israel” celebrations in Paris, Marseilles, Lyon, London, Geneva, Brussels and in major cities of the United States and Canada. Thousands of posters have been sent to those communities and Israeli documentary films were made available.
About 100,000 letters were sent recently by Israeli school children to Jewish students abroad as part of a Jewish National Fund campaign for the Jewish Children’s Forest. The WZO’s department of education and culture has issued a special prayerbook in Hebrew and English honoring Independence Day.