April 27, 2009

The Minutes Israel Stood Still
Giv'atayim, Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Oh, these Israelis and their love of time off and remembrance.

Day of Atonement… Passover… Holocaust Remembrance Day… Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day… Jerusalem Day…

With so many holidays (24 public holidays, by my count) it feels like there's yet another reason for celebration or depression commemorated every other day.

The other day it was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and tonight begins Memorial Day (aka: Yom Hazikaron, Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day).

Now what's interesting is that while Memorial Day (Weekend) is pretty much known as the best time to go see a new blockbuster movie, in Israel, it's actually taken pretty seriously. Since mandatory military conscription is a way of life for Israelis, most have know a friend or loved one that has been directly impacted by a duty-related death.

My hosts warned us not to be scared tonight, just as we were warned about a week ago. The government would again be activating the air raid sirens for two minutes, signaling for the population to observe silence and stop moving as a sign of personal remembrance.

(…rather Orwellian, if you ask me.)

…sirens are sounded throughout Israel for two minutes. During this time, people cease from action and stand at attention; cars stop and drivers exit their vehicles, even on the highways; and the whole country comes to a standstill as people pay silent tribute to the dead.

Inside the apartment, just after dinner, our hosts stood up from the couch and looked out the window in silence as the siren wailed…

( video: Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) Siren )

( video: Rememberance day in Israel - May 2006 )


The United States


August 14th, 2009

So do people in Tel Aviv have a higher proportion of hearing impaired? The siren running constant for two minutes seems absurd and to me it would take away from the ability to stand silently and solemnly.

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