Female Arab-Israeli trailblazer among Independence Day torch lighters


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Arab-Israeli woman will be among the 12 Israelis to light a torch at this year’s official Independence Day ceremony.

Lucy Aharish, 33, is the first Muslim-Arab news anchor on Israeli television. Her announcement as a torch lighter has raised the hackles of both the far right and far left, with the right saying she is not loyal enough to the state, and the left and Arab communities saying she has sold out to the Israeli establishment.

Israel will mark the start of Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, on Wednesday evening at the close of the solemn Memorial Day observance with a ceremony at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem.

Torch lighters are Israelis who have made significant contributions to the state.

Other torch lighters include Rami Levy, the philanthropic owner of a chain of discount supermarkets; Ehud Shabtai, the creator of the Waze navigation app; Dr. Danny Gold, creator of the Iron Dome anti-missile system; and Gal Lusky, the founder and CEO of Israel Flying Aid, which provides emergency disaster relief around the world.

The Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies in announcing the torch lighters last month called Aharish a “trailblazing Muslim journalist, who brings a discourse of tolerance and interdenominational openness to Israel’s public agenda.”

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