For the first time ever, one of the official ceremonies on Remembrance Day will be a united one that honors both IDF soldiers who died in service and victims of Arab terror.
In the first five decades of Israel's existence, Remembrance Day was devoted solely to the memory of IDF soldiers who were killed in uniform, and of men and women who were killed in the line of duty while serving in the country's other security arms.
In the year 2000, the government decided to devote the Remembrance Day to victims of terror as well. However, memorial ceremonies for soldiers and terror victims were held separately. The inclusion of terror victims in the official Memorial Day for IDF Soldiers sparked controversy, with some relatives of fallen soldiers insisting that it was morally wrong to compare soldiers who were killed while serving their country bravely to people who were randomly killed while going about their civilian lives.
The debate is ongoing and emotional, and it touches on core issues of the Israeli ethos, including heroism and the meaning of military service.
The ceremony on April 18 will be jointly held by the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and the Knesset. It will be held at the Knesset Plaza and will be attended by 2,000 people, without speeches. Artists and IDF troupes will sing memorial songs.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi and bereaved relatives of fallen soldiers and victims of terror will read out poems written by their loved ones. A film will be screened and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin will read parts of the book “Yoni's Letters” – a collection of letters written by Lt Col Yoni Netanyahu, one of the IDF's greatest heroes of all time.