Some 22,000 Israeli soldiers have died since the establishment of the Jewish state, including 40 soldiers between March 2013 and March 2014. The fallen soldiers are remembered each year on Yom HaZikaron, the fourth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. Among the soldiers killed during these past 12 months were 20-year-old Gavriel Kobi, a combat soldier killed by a Palestinian sniper while on guard duty outside Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs; 18-year-old Eden Atias, stabbed in the neck while on a bus in the northern Israeli city of Afula; and 31-year-old Shlomo Cohen, a Petty Officer 1st Class in the Israeli Navy who was fatally shot by a Lebanese sniper while driving near the Israel-Lebanon border fence in an unarmored military vehicle.
How is the Jewish state’s 66th birthday celebration different from all other years’ celebrations? Special plans are afoot to recognize the achievements of Israeli women, as 14 notable women have been singled out for recognition as Independence Day torchbearers for the state’s ceremony. But while Israel called the torchbearers “a unique mosaic of Israeli society,” other Israeli women interviewed by JNS.org have their own ideas of who should have made the list.
“I am certain the world will judge the Jewish state by what it will do with the Arabs,” said Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president, in December 1947, just months before the state’s founding. Indeed, despite the various contributions Israel makes to the world, the media and other forms of public attention inevitably focus on the situation faced by the country's Arab minority. Among Israeli Arabs, the Bedouin experience the highest unemployment rate. Bedouin society lacks a strong educational system, supports forced marriages of underage girls, and places cultural restrictions on women working outside the home. Yet there are programs that are beginning to change Bedouin lives for the better.