In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2008, 133 members of the security forces - police, IDF, Border Police, Israel Security Agency and other organizations - have been killed in the service of the state. The last soldier to have died in the line of duty was Capt. Yehonatan Netanel, a deputy company commander in the Paratroopers Brigade, who was killed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in January."
This quote can be found on the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
I find it upsetting for many different reasons, not least because it highlights the lie perpetrated by both the Arabs and the media that all the Jews and Arabs who have died defending the land, did so within the last 61 years of Israel's existence. In fact, a fair number had been killed by the time 1948 rolled in, 88 years after the very first returnee to the sacred land laid down his life, simply for being a Jew who wanted to live in the ancient homeland.
It makes a mockery of the claim that the establishment State of Israel is the reason for the Arabs sanguine lust of Jewish blood. In 1929, whilst the world was unaware of the impending Wall Street crash, these same Arabs massacred the ancient community of Hebron - 19 years before 1948.
Tonight is the commencement of Yom Hazikaron, the annual memorial day for the boys and girls who fell defending our land, before 1948, during 1948 and ever since.
Yet, 22,570 lost souls have not convinced us to leave our land. Six million Jews have not convinced us all to give up and assimilate, though tragically many have and still, after 149 years, the Arabs can't get the message. Ahmedinejad doesn't understand that he can talk the talk, ape Hitler's speeches and sway many a naive state (and Obama isn't scoring too high on my cards either) but he's dealing with a proud, stubborn and resolute nation, who doesn't believe in giving up - irrespective of the sacrifice we have to endure.
And we recite the names, remember the faces, shed the tears but know, in our inner hearts that, as Hannah Szenes wrote:
"My God, My God
May these things never end:
The sand and the sea
The rustle of the water
The lightning in the sky
Man's prayer never ends, just like the forces of nature that are marshaled by our G-d.
Our prayer for peace - Oseh Shalom - accompanied us through the millennial exile - and is still the beat that fires us to continue on our journey as Jews every single day.
22,570 men and women have passed, but millions live on. In Israel. In the Diaspora. 149 years later, two millenia after we left Jerusalem, we are back in our holy land because that's the way the good Lord wants it and one hundred Ahmedinejad's can't do a damn thing to budge us, nuclear weapons or not.
Yehi Zichram Baruch.
May their memories be (forever) blessed.
Let's hope the number stays the same next year.