The United States established Memorial Day in 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War. Memorial Day was first called “Decoration Day,” as it was meant as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.
Israel established its Memorial Day shortly after the founding of the State of Israel in remembrance of the individuals who sacrificed their lives defending the newly founded Jewish state from attacks by its Arab neighbors in reaction to the 1947 UN partition plan: as soon as the British left the country, five Arab armies — Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, and Iraq — immediately invaded Israel.
“It will be a war of annihilation,” said Azzam Pasha, secretary general of the Arab League, as Israel’s enemies invaded. “It will be a momentous massacre in history that will be talked about like the massacres of the Mongols or the Crusades.”
On April 18, when Israelis recognize those who died defending the country, they will be commemorating not only the soldiers who died in the distant past, but also those who have died since, including the two soldiers who were killed just last March, when a Palestinian driver rammed his car into a group of four soldiers patrolling on the side of the road.
“We will tear Israelis’ hearts out,” declared Hamas leader Yehia al-Sinwar earlier this month, highlighting the Israeli reality that the war of annihilation that Pasha declared against Israel 70 years ago continues until today.
As Americans, this should serve as a wake-up call and a call to action against any form of extremism on our soil. Since the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, in which 2,996 people died and more than 6,000 were wounded, there have been 6,915 US troops killed in the global war on terrorism.
None of our soldiers have been killed on our own soil. But one of them was killed on Israeli soil. Taylor Force, 29, who survived Iraq and Afghanistan, was stabbed to death in a Palestinian stabbing spree against Israelis in Jaffa.
In the time I have spent with members of the Israeli army in connection with my service on the board of American Friends of LIBI — a volunteer organization providing Israeli soldiers with Jewish and cultural awareness, welfare support, education, social and financial assistance, recreational activities — I have learned the meaning of a term that should be important for Americans when reacting to what some claim as Israel’s “disproportionate response” to the recent Gaza protests. The term is asymmetrical warfare.
Asymmetrical warfare occurs when “low-tech forces” (terrorists or other insurgents) aim at the most vulnerable targets (civilians) and launch their attacks from among their own vulnerable population. When “high-tech” forces (an army) responds to defend their own civilians, they may end up killing enemy civilians.
If you kill civilians you lose support for your efforts.
Read the rest of Karen’s opinion piece here.