No cabinet ministers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government attended an event held Sunday at Mount Herzl to mark the 44th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, with former prime minister Ehud Barak expressing outrage at their absence.
מביש ומרתיח. ביזוי הלוחמים שנפלו. איפה ביבי ושריו? עסוקים בחוק הג׳ובים? בטקס הפוליטי בגוש עציון? בקעקוע ׳העליון׳? שפל מוסרי. זמן ללכת הביתה. https://t.co/BrWTghcFIK
— אהוד ברק (@barak_ehud) October 1, 2017
“This is shameful and infuriating,” Barak wrote on Twitter. “This shames the soldiers who died. Where were Bibi and his ministers? Too busy making political appointments or at a political ceremony in Gush Etzion? This is a new low.”
Labor leader Avi Gabbay added that “a government that does not respect its past and does not have an impressive present does not have much of a future.”
Gabbay said none of the ministers thought it important enough to look into the eyes of the relatives of 2,222 fallen soldiers.
The government also sent no representative to the annual September 11 memorial event for the fallen victims of the attacks in the US last month.
Amb Friedman speaks at a ceremony to remember 9/11 in Israel (Ziv Sokolov/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)
The Ministry of Defense responded to the absence of a cabinet minister at Sunday’s ceremony by saying protocol required only one state representative and that President Reuven Rivlin and Deputy Knesset Speaker Hilik Bar were both proper representatives of the state. Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel said she attended a different ceremony for the same war at the same time.
At the ceremony, Rivlin said that while the means of warfare have changed, the need to defend Israel’s security remains constant.
Rivlin characterized the war as “the most bitter yet most beautiful hour of the people’s army.”
When the military intelligence network collapsed and the generals conducted the war, faith – the need to fulfill the mission and wonderful examples of individual heroism – flourished, said Rivlin.
The President lamented the decline in this sense of mission and the lack of motivation among today’s rookie soldiers to join combat units.
This lack of motivation is worrisome said Rivlin because today, just as during the Yom Kippur War, it is imperative for Israel to have a strong army. “This has not changed,” he underscored. No one knows what awaits Israel in the future, he added, as the possibility of surprise always exists, and Israel cannot afford to be lax in the protection of the homeland.
“We must find ways to restore the motivation of new recruits so that they will want to serve in combat units. This is a national challenge. We need you now,” Rivlin declared, addressing himself to grandsons and even the younger sons of veterans of the Yom Kippur War. “We want you determined, moral, courageous and believing in the justice of what you are doing. We cannot succeed without you.” Rivlin conceded that there are times when soldiers do not act in accordance with the basic values of the IDF, “but these are our values for success and for resilience.”
Speaking directly to the families of the fallen, Rivlin said, “We lost our best combatants in the Yom Kippur War. For them and for you, that war will continue forever. Hopefully, we will be deserving of their sacrifice.”