"The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly…"
– In memory of those who have fallen while on duty in the Israeli Foreign Service
7-8 May 2008 – 2-3 Iyar 5768
Israel Independence Day is celebrated annually, according to the Hebrew calendar, on 5 Iyar, the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. As this date falls this year on the Sabbath, celebrations have been moved up to Thursday, May 8 (3 Iyar). The day preceding this celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence.
On Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day, which will begin on Tuesday evening, May 6, the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence. It is a day of collective and personal anguish mingled with awe and honor for the fallen.
The official events begin on Tuesday, May 6, at 8:00 PM with a moment of national silence heralded by a one minute siren. The following morning, ceremonies commence at 11:00 AM at 43 IDF military cemeteries located all over the country and at the Bedouin Soldier’s Memorial at Movil Junction following a two minute blast of the siren.
A total of 22,437 men and women have been killed defending the land of Israel since 1860, the year that the first Jewish settlers left the secure walls of Jerusalem to build new Jewish neighborhoods.
In the past year, since Remembrance Day 2007, 132 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 State of Israel
Israel’s 60th Independence Day celebrations will commence on Wednesday evening, May 7, when the state flag is raised to full mast at a national ceremony on Mount Herzl, at which twelve torches are lit.
With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence, lost two thousand years earlier, was restored.
Independence Day is a celebration of the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish people. In this land, the Jewish people began to develop its distinctive religion and culture some 4,000 years ago, and here it has preserved an unbroken physical presence, for centuries as a sovereign state, at other times under foreign domination. Throughout their long history, the yearning to return to the land has been the focus of Jewish life.
The events and projects for Israel’s 60th anniversary reflect the Government resolution that they will center around the "strengthening of Israel’s children".
The Israel at 60 events are designed to reach all the citizens of Israel wherever they may be, and a major proportion of the events shall be held in outlying regions. The events will showcase Israel’s achievements over the 60 years since its founding. Special emphasis will be placed on Holocaust survivors and other sectors of the population.
The events and projects to mark 60 years of Israel’s independence will focus on inculcating educational, cultural and artistic values among the youth. Emphasis shall also be placed on strengthening religious tolerance and civic awareness, strengthening the connection with the history of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and strengthening awareness of nature, heritage, landscape and environmental values. Part of the budget for the Israel at 60 events shall be earmarked for infrastructure projects, that will bear fruit in the coming years.
Population of Israel: 7,282,000
On the eve of Independence Day 2007, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced that the population of Israel has reached 7,282,000- 132,000 more than last year.
Upon the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the population numbered just 806,000.
– Jews 5,499,000 (75.5%)
– Arabs – 1,461,000 (20.1%)
– Others – 322,000 (4.4%)
Over three million people have immigrated to Israel since 1948, more than one million of them since 1990; approximately 18,000 immigrated in the past year.
In 1948, Tel Aviv was the only city in Israel with a population of over 100,000. Today, 44% of the Israeli population lives in cities numbering 100,000 or more residents. Five cities have a population exceeding 200,000 – Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Rishon Lezion and Ashdod – with a total combined population of 1,810,300.
Hatikva souvenir sheet
For the first time in Israel – the stamp in this souvenir sheet is perforated in the unique shape of the Star of David.
This beautiful souvenir sheet is part of a worldwide "Hatikva" project, encompassing Jews who will unite throughout the world to mark Israel’s Independence Day. The innovative design of the Star of David is set against a background of the words to the State of Israel’s national anthem and the images of Theodor Herzl and David Ben Gurion.
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Greetings from President Shimon Peres on the occasion of Israel’s 60th Anniversary
As we stand poised to celebrate Israel’s 60th Anniversary, we can only but look back on our achievements with a great deal of pride. From its inception, practically rising from the ashes of the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, Israel has had to fight for its survival through 7 wars and relentless attacks on its very existence. Yet we persisted in turning the vision of a homeland for the Jewish people into reality. We have created a model democracy, an independent judiciary system and set ourselves at the forefront of fields such as science and technology, hi-tech, agriculture and medicine, to name but some of the areas in which Israel excels.
But we should not allow ourselves to rest on our laurels. We must seek to educate our younger generation for leadership roles in our 3 Tomorrows: The Israel Tomorrow, The Jewish Tomorrow and The Global Tomorrow. We must bridge the growing social gaps in our country. We must cultivate stronger ties with the Jewish Diaspora and engage the young in these communities to connect with Israel. We must initiate breakthroughs in spheres such as nano-technology, desalination to alleviate water shortages, find alternative sources of energy, green the desert and make inroads in ever more sophisticated medical applications. During these years, we have made peace with Egypt and Jordan and hope that the peace negotiations with the Palestinians will bear fruit.
We must be true to the values dictated by our prophets, a legacy that has united the Jewish people through the ages and that must continue to serve as our beacon for the generations to come.
As Israel celebrates 60 years of independence I wish the citizens of our country, the Jewish people and our friends throughout the world a peaceful and prosperous anniversary year.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Message to the Diaspora Communities
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It gives me great pleasure to send you warm greetings from Jerusalem – the vibrant and beating heart of the Jewish people and the eternal capital of the State of Israel – on the occasion of the State of Israel’s 60th Yom Ha’atzmaut.
As we celebrate this milestone in the history of the State of Israel, this is an excellent time not only to look back at the tremendous accomplishments of the past 60 years, but also to look ahead to what the future holds in store for Israel and for the Jewish people.
Over the past 60 years, Israel has developed into a modern, vibrant country – one with a strong and stable economy; one which is a world leader in agriculture, science, hi-tech and medicine; one which welcomes and absorbs Jews from around the world and which embraces the diverse cultures from which they came.
Even with all these achievements, we still have much to accomplish. We must exhaust all possibilities for peace with our Arab neighbors, while always safeguarding the security of our citizens. We must work to ensure a more just and equal society; one which rejects all forms of discrimination and bias. We must ensure that the State of Israel fully embraces the challenges and wonders of the 21st century, to assure its status as a "light among nations".
Our greatest natural resource and our best chance to guarantee the future of the State of Israel and the Jewish people are our children. We must invest in Jewish-Zionist education, develop programs which strengthen the affinity of Diaspora youth for the State of Israel and work to strengthen Jewish identity and continuity.
To this end, we must strengthen the historic partnership between our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. For it is only together – striding forward shoulder-to-shoulder – that we can secure our common future, become stronger as a people and as a nation and fully realize the promise of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country.
PM Ehud Olmert’s Message to Diaspora Children
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I am happy to send you my warm greetings from Jerusalem – the eternal and undivided capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people – on the occasion of the State of Israel’s 60th birthday.
Sixty years ago, brave Jews from all over the world fought for the independence and freedom of the State of Israel – and won. Since then, the State of Israel has become a modern and vibrant democracy.
Some of you may wonder why the State of Israel should be an important part of your lives. There are many reasons. The modern State of Israel ties us to our proud history in our Land – from the glorious days of the Kings of Israel, through the ancient height of our civilization and to the heroic stand of the Maccabees. The modern State of Israel serves as a safe haven for Jews across the world and embraces and absorbs their cultures – beginning with the Holocaust survivors of Europe, the Moroccans, Yemenites, Russians, Ethiopians, and Jews of every color and speaking 110 different languages. The Jewish people, wherever they may be, belong to each other – we are truly brothers and sisters – and we must ensure that we always have somewhere to come home to, even if we live in different places.
I invite you to become a part of Israel – learn our shared history and language and come visit us. We need each other to ensure our future as a people and as a country, and I call on youy to play a role in this important mission.
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Related documents and websites
- Izkor – Memorial to Israel’s Fallen (in Hebrew)
- In Memory of the Victims of Terror in Israel (in Hebrew)
- Remembrance Day/Independence Day – Selected Readings
- "The ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly…"
– In memory of those who have fallen while on duty in the Israeli Foreign Service
- The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
- Fascimile of the Declaration of Independence (Hebrew)
- The State of Israel Is Born: Headlines from the world press May 1948
- Israel at 60 – Official website
- Map of Israel within Boundaries and Ceasefire Lines – 2006
- ISRAEL at 60: A Statistical Glimpse
- FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL: The State
- FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL: History – Independence
- Israel’s wars