They were showing the flag a lot in Israel this week. And a lot of flags.
Preceded by Yom HaZikaron, the annual day of remembrance for the soldiers who have fallen in Israel’s defense, Yom Ha'Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, marked the country’s 60th birthday.
There were fireworks and torch lightings, concerts and speeches, a bike race and Bedouin festival, TV documentaries and parachute shows.
And it all began with the raising of the state flag at Mount Herzl.
In the pages of The New Yorker, a cartoon shows an Orthodox Jew with a protruding nose walking away from his just-spanked son. The child is holding a drawing of a sack of money. "So let that be a lesson to you, Abie," the father warns. "It is forbidden to depict the profit!"
The cartoon is the work of Art Spiegelman, who is Jewish.
Online, a call goes out for the best anti-Semitic cartoons in the world. The contest is sponsored by a Tel Aviv comic books publishing firm. Only Jews can enter. All the firm's owners are Jewish.
A green hatchet, some red Cedars of Lebanon, some poetry, some cartoons, some photographs, some blog journals printed out on pink sheets of paper.
In the weeks since the war in Lebanon began, a wide variety of artistic and non-artistic types have expressed their feelings about the fighting — and the 92nd Street Y’s Makor Gallery on the Upper West Side has put many of their expressions in 8-by-10-inch wooden frames and hung them in a public display.
The Kaminer family of Kiryat Bialik, a Haifa suburb, needed a new place to live, temporarily, on short notice.
A Katyusha missile fired by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon exploded near their apartment two weeks ago. It was 20 yards away. “It was a miracle no one was injured,” says Chaim Kaminer, a 59-year-old businessman. His home wasn’t damaged, “thanks God,” but his family’s psyche was. “It’s driving you crazy to stay all day in the shelter.”
Full-scale wars, which Israel has fought many times in the past, and major army operations, which Israel has found itself in during recent weeks in Gaza and Lebanon, usually bring stories of troop maneuvers and military analysis, call-ups of the reserves, and civilian sacrifices. The human side of war is often hard to picture from a distance, particularly when the fighting involves Israel, a country that few Americans, even American Jews, have visited.
As far back as the Munich Olympics of 1972, Palestinian terrorists and their supporters have used kidnapping as a political tool, abducting Israeli civilians and soldiers to be used in potential prisoner swaps and to obtain other concessions from Israel. Following is a chronology of prominent Israeli kidnappings and MIA cases:
1972: Members of the Black September terrorist group sneak into the Olympic Village in Munich and take 11 members of the Israeli delegation hostage. All 11 are killed.
In most countries, a new highway is just a stretch of asphalt. In Israel, a new highway is a source of national debate.
Israel is building a unique four-lane highway through the West Bank, east of Jerusalem — two lanes are for Israelis, two for Palestinians.
Separated by a tall wall of concrete that looks like Jerusalem stone, the nearly completed road will keep the nationalities separate from each other, allowing Palestinians to travel through Israeli-held land with few exits along the way.
The conviction of Haim Ramon, former Israeli justice minister, on an indecency charge this week, may lead to a shakeup of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government and a re-examination of the country’s sexual harassment laws, Israeli politicians said.
Ramon, 56, a close ally of Olmert, was found guilty Wednesday by Tel Aviv’s Magistrate Court for forcibly kissing a 21-year-old soldier at a party six months ago. He faces three years in jail, and is expected to appeal the verdict.
Discharged Israeli soldiers, on spiritual sojourns in the Far East after they leave the service, usually carry backpacks.
Last week some Israelis carried political posters, in Tel Aviv, on behalf of Tibet.
In separate rallies outside the Chinese embassy and the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, Israelis joined young members of Tibetan families in protests against recent Chinese violence in Tibet.