OPINION: Remember those who fought to survive

HOLY DAY: An ultra-Orthodox Jew performs a Jewish ritual called 'Kaparot,' performed before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement,  in Beit Shemesh, Israel.
HOLY DAY: An ultra-Orthodox Jew performs a Jewish ritual called 'Kaparot,' performed before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in Beit Shemesh, Israel. ABIR SULTAN

FRIDAY and Saturday of the past week marked the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. It probably passed here with hardly anyone realising, especially as it was Grand Final weekend.

Most non-Jews in Australia would remain unfamiliar with the words Yom Kippur if it were not for the war that went by that name. And even then, that pivotal event in modern Israeli history would be vaguely remembered as just another "skirmish” between Arabs and Jews.

Maybe even fewer of us down under would be aware of just how close the Israelis came to being overrun by vastly superior numbers of Syrian tanks on the Golan Heights at the Valley of Tears Battle fought between the 6th and 9th of October 1973.

And as we look even more closely at this profoundly historical, military engagement, few indeed would appreciate the severely straitened circumstances of the beleaguered forces of Israel or be awed by the inexplicable withdrawal of the Syrian Armored Brigades when victory was in their grasp.

Many in the battle believe they saw a Divine Hand in this deliverance.

We have grown up here in the Antipodes with a somewhat parochial view of history and the present generation might even reject the reality that our past and the past of the state of Israel are closely linked.

At the end of this month in 1917, exactly 100 years ago, the Australian Light Horse achieved a stunning victory at Beersheba, setting the scene for Israeli statehood.

Wisdom dictates we do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought and to consider the twists of history that shaped us.

Two of my grandparents belonged to the most persecuted ethnic groups in our world.

My maternal grandfather Jacob, a young Jew, fell in love with a gypsy beauty and sealed their fate as both of their families rejected the marriage union.

In remembering them I'm inevitably drawn into remembering the history of those who have had to battle for their survival nearly every day of their existence.

Al Byrnand


Topics:  letters to the editor yom kippur

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