JERUSALEM (Apr. 20)
The somber mood of Israel’s national remembrance day for those who fell in defense of the country shifted Tuesday night, with the opening of celebrations for the country’s 51st anniversary.
A beacon-lighting ceremony held at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl bridged the transformation from Yom Hazikaron, remembrance day, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence day.
This year’s independence celebrations highlighted the 50th anniversary of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as a symbol of tolerance and democracy.
Addressing the assembly, Knesset speaker Dan Tichon stressed the importance of cooperation among Israel’s various political parties, especially in light of the current election campaign.
Tichon, who is leaving parliamentary life following the May elections, said the real test would be after the election, when the parties would be called upon to cooperate. He urged his colleagues to act beyond short-term objectives and interests.
Tichon’s remarks were followed by the traditional lighting of 12 beacons, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, by individuals who have promoted democracy and tolerance.
An entertainment segment, topped off with a fireworks display concluded the ceremony, and launched the nationwide celebrations.