JERUSALEM (May. 11)
Cultural events took precedence over military panoply as Israel celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence. A highlight was the concert last night in the Jerusalem Theater by the world famous Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich who performed with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gary Bartini.
It was not only Rostropovich’s artistry that brought him a rapturous ovation after he concluded the program with Hayden’s cello concerto but the fact that his appearance here represented a blow against the repression of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union. Rostropovich lost his Soviet citizenship recently It was revoked because he agreed to perform in Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day.
The cellist had been one of the few Soviet artists permitted to live abroad, apparently because his liberal views embarrassed the Soviet authorities and his international stature as a musician made them reluctant to exile him officially. But the honor he paid Israel, a country he has visited many times, proved too much for the Kremlin. He was deprived of citizenship because, according to the official Soviet press, he collaborated with the “Zionist aggressors,” namely former Premier Golda Meir and President Ephraim Katzir.
The main event in Tel Aviv last night was also musical. An estimated 80,000 persons heard the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta perform Tchaikowsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannon sound-effects and fireworks.
OTHER EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY
Other festivities included a two-hour dress parade and precision drill by Israel army units and former underground fighters in the Hebrew University stadium this morning while Air Force planes performed acrobatics overhead. The latter included three formations of the Israel-made Kfir jet fighter and squadrons of American F-15s. There was a display on the ground of Israeli weapons dating from the 1948 War for Independence to the latest sophisticated tanks, artillery and rockets.
While organized events attracted thousands of spectators, most Israelis took to the beaches or countryside for the day and many others stayed home to watch Independence Day programs on television.
In Haifa, tens of thousands watched a parade of some 5000 dancers from various youth movements, kibbutzim, moshavim and minority groups. In Metullah, many of the south Lebanese Christians took part in Independence Day celebrations there, dancing and singing and expressing best wishes to Israel. One Lebanese leader said Israel’s celebrations should encourage the Lebanese to regain their own independence from Syria and the Palestinians.
The highlights this evening were the awards of the annual Israel Prize and the Bible Quiz in Jerusalem with 29 young contestants from all over the world. Eli Sarussi, a Tel Aviv high school student, won the first prize and other Israeli students took the second, third and fourth prizes. Rona Levin of Canada placed fifth, ahead of all the other foreign contestants. The sixth prize went to Yitzhak Mauas of Argentina.