Twice Betrayed

The Ministerial Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols decided on Sunday to hold an official memorial ceremony for the victims of the Second Lebanon War. It will be held on the anniversary of the war - July 2, 2007 - to honor the memory of the 119 soldiers who were killed.

But the state will not honor the memory of the 44 civilians who died in that war. There will be no memorial for them.

The names of 12 soldiers killed by a Katyusha rocket in a parking lot near Kfar Giladi will be recorded and enshrined in an official ceremony. Those of eight civilians that a Katyusha killed in a Haifa railway depot will not.

At a commemoration ceremony at Haifa University last week 119 scholarships were distributed to students - one for each soldier. But an ordinary civilian, who died when a rocket fell on his head in the middle of the day, in the middle of the street, is not worth a combatant's scholarship.

Two bereaved parents, Yossi Zur, who lost his son Assaf, 17, in a suicide bombing on a Haifa bus four years ago, and Yossi Mendelevitch, who lost his son Yuval, 13, in the same disaster, learned by chance of the ministerial committee's decision. They could not believe it. They called the committee chairman, Minister Yaakov Edri, for confirmation. Zur and Mendelevitch, both engineers, have been campaigning against the privatization of the memory of civilian victims. The parents demand that official commemoration of the nation's fallen be extended beyond the military to encompass everyone killed in Israel's wars.

Their demands have been rejected. Yesterday they came to me and asked me to be their mouthpiece.

How can these bereaved parents complain about the ministers and their committees when the Winograd Committee itself opened its report with a eulogy in memory of "beautiful flowers, IDF soldiers, plucked prematurely in the Second Lebanon War?"

The turn of those who were killed without uniforms or ranks will come, in the final report. They can wait.

To distinguish between the circumstances of death that bring bereavement is deplorable. It is especially repugnant in the context of the last war. Wasn't it said last summer that the "strong home front" was giving strength to the fighting soldiers in the front? When the government needed the elderly and disabled and all the poor who were left behind, it praised their courageous stand, calling them the "real war heroes."

Hardly a year has gone by and already they have become anonymous heroes. The government betrayed them during the war and is betraying them now, because now they are useless, at least until the next war.