Wednesday, March 27, 2013

From Tel Aviv to Atalit to Tiberias in One Day

Site of Rabin Assassination in 1994

We began the day early with our first stop at Kikar Rabin, Rabin Square, where Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in November 1994.  It was renamed a year later and  is the site of many rallies and parades still to this day.  We then made an important stop at the Independence Hall where David Ben Gurion declared  Israel's independence on Friday May 14, 1948.  We had an animated guide, Tali who taught the history of the building, Meir Dizengoff's first Mayor of Tel Aviv's house turned Art Museum turned historical site.
The State Is Born
Friday, May 14, 1948, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. At 4 p.m. - eight hours before the termination of the British Mandate in what was then Palestine - the members of the People's Council and Executive and invited leaders gathered in the museum hall. They listened with emotion as David Ben-Gurion, head of the People's Council, the Zionist Executive and the Jewish Agency, declared the creation of the State of Israel.
After the reading of the declaration of independence, Rabbi Fishman-Maimon recited the Sheheheyanu (a Jewish blessing of thanksgiving) and members of the People's Council and Executive signed the scroll. The ceremony concluded with the singing of "Hatikva."

The WHOLE group outside the Hall of Independence

Our soldier guid
Our next stop was the Palmach Museum which again gave us the history of the  first organized fighting force of pre-state Israel.  It is an experience where we saw a multi media presentation which also told us the story of the War of Independence.  It is not told through pictures or displays but through the account  of a fictional group of young people in the Palmach, through the displays and visual effects.  I am always hit hard at the end of the tour with Natan Alterman's poem: On A Silver Platter which was based on a quote attributed to Chaim Weizman,  "The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter," Ha'aretz newspaper ran this story on December 15, 1947, soon after the UN decision to partition Palestine.

Here are the words to that poem:

The Silver Platter: Natan Alterman

And the land grows still, the red eye of the sky  slowly dimming over smoking frontiers

As the nation arises, Torn at heart but breathing, To receive its miracle, the only miracle

As the ceremony draws near,  it will rise, standing erect in the moonlight in terror and joy

When across from it will step out a youth and a lass and slowly march toward the nation

Dressed in battle gear, dirty, Shoes heavy with grime, they ascend the path quietly

To change garb, to wipe their brow
They have not yet found time. Still bone weary from days and from nights in the field

Full of endless fatigue and unrested,
Yet the dew of their youth. Is still seen on their head
Thus they stand at attention, giving no sign of life or death 

Then a nation in tears and amazement
will ask: "Who are you?"
And they will answer quietly, "We Are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given."

Thus they will say and fall back in shadows
And the rest will be told In the chronicles of Israel

We continued up the coast to Atlit and visited this living museum to the pre-state illegal immigrants to Israel.  They had replicas of the barracks, the boats and our last multi media presentation of the day. 
Today the Atlit Detainee Camp is a museum dedicated to the pre-state illegal immigration, telling the story of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe, finaly reaching Palestine, only to be incarcerated in camps similar in appearance to the death camps they have just escaped.

We had so much Jewish history I was temped to give a test at the end of the day.  We ended our day in Tiberias and off to Tzefat in the Boker.