Yitzhak Navon: Israeli President Remembered

Yitzhak Navon: Israeli President Remembered

On November 20, 1977, Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem to speak in the Israeli Knesset.

Remembering that historic moment spurs another November remembrance.

Yitzhak Navon

Yitzhak Navon lived from April 9, 1921 – November 6, 2015, and came from a long line of renowned Sephardic rabbis.

Yitzhak Navon in Beit Hanasi

An Israeli politician, diplomat, and author, he served as the fifth President of Israel between 1978 and 1983.

Yitzhak Navon’s image is in the garden at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s House, along with the rest of Israel’s past Presidents.

Yitzhak Navon is Beit Hanasi with flower on day of funeral

On the day of the Funeral of Yitzhak Navon  a single red flower was placed on the marble stand.

In 1978, at the age of 57, Yitzhak Navon was elected President of the State of Israel.

The first thing to come up in an internet search for Yitzhak Navon, is the Yitzhak Navon train station.

Sign for Yitzhak Navon Train Station in Jerusalem - fast train to Tel Aviv.

Navon was the first Israeli president of Sephardic heritage. Born in Jerusalem into a family who had lived in Jerusalem for over 300 years, they traced their ancestry back to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

He was noticeably younger than his predecessors, bringing to the President’s residence his wife and two relatively young children, which changed the atmosphere of the Presidential home.

Day of Yitzhak Navon funeral his children in garden look at stature

Navon was the father of a daughter, Na’ama, and a son, Erez. His wife, Ofira, died of cancer in 1993, and was a clinical psychologist. He later was remarried to Miri Shafir.

President Reuven Rivlin and Navon children day of funeral at Beit Hanasi

During his Presidency, Navon strove to act as a bridge between all of Israel’s ethnic groups, working to help those on the periphery enter into the mainstream of Israeli life.

At his funeral, this woman had to share a memory with his family and President Rivlin.

Military escort for Yitzhak Navon arrival at Beit Hanasi

In the critical years 1946-1948, Navon served as head of the Arab section of the Haganah in Jerusalem.

In 1951, he began a decade-long career in senior administrative posts in the offices of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, and of its first Minister of Foreign Affairs, Moshe Sharett.

Navon served as deputy speaker of the Knesset, and chairman of the Knesset Committee on Foreign and Defense Affairs.

In 1983, Navon turned down the opportunity to run for a second term of office. Instead he returned to politics, the only Israeli ex-president to do so, and served as Minister of Education and Culture, remaining in the Knesset until 1992.

Israeli President Yitzhak Navon funeral at Beit Hanasi

When the polls showed that Navon was more popular than Labor chairman Shimon Peres, Peres was pressured to step aside and allow Navon to take over the party leadership.

Navon’s fluency in Arabic made him especially popular among Arab and Mizrahi voters. However, at his funeral, which was open to the public at Beit Hanasi, few came early to pay respects, though more were reported attending later.

Navon was fluent in Arabic, Hebrew, Ladino, French and English. In October 1980, he visited Egypt, the first official visit by an Israeli president to an Arab state at the invitation of President Anwar Sadat. Navon impressed his hosts with his eloquent Arabic, breaking the ice and demolishing stereotypes of Israelis and Jews as a “foreign element” to the region.

He also paid a state visit to the United States at the invitation of President Reagan.

Former home of Israeli President Yitahak Navon gets blue tourist sign

November 6, came and went with little notice, three years since he died, but new signs are seen on Jerusalem streets.

Yitzhak Navon 5th president of Israel home becomes historical location

A blue historical information sign shows where Yitzhak Navon lived in his last years.

Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem Israel

The new Jerusalem Train Station has opened.

New Jerusalem fast train station

As more people ride the new fast train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv,

Fast train station Jerusalem Israel

more will see the name Yitzhak Navon, a former President of Israel who lived a long life, and excelled in more areas of arts and language than listed here.

From chasing Nazi war criminals in South America, to attending events close to the end of his long and full life, Yitzhak Navon is truly a name to remember.

We can only wonder if Navon had led the negotiations with Egypt on Sinai, would the fate of Yamit and Gaza have been the same?

 

Another Round from Gaza

Another Round from Gaza

Jerusalem, Israel, has been under siege the last two weeks, with a battle between Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovitch for the position of Mayor of Jerusalem.

As of now it appears Moshe Lion has won the election.

A very different battle has been going on in Israel’s south along the Gaza border.

Southern Israel students hold protest near Knesset after walk from Sderot

Hundreds of students from Sderot led the way on a journey to the Rose Garden, across from the Knesset, to protest growing up on the front line of a war zone, and declared: “Let Us Grow Up in Quiet.”

As I wrote last week for 17 years southern Israel has been under attack. 

Ashkelon building hit by rocket where man was killed

After Israel allowed the transfer of $15 million to Hamas from Qatar, a barrage of 500 rockets fell on southern Israel in one day.

This building in Ashkelon took a direct hit.

One man was killed and one woman seriously injured.

Micky Rosenfeld talking to media near building damaged by Hamas rocket

At the site, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld held interview after interview with the media.

Ashkelon rocket damaged building next to synagogue

But did you see that the building across the way had shrapnel marks?

Damage from rocket in Ashkelon

The heavily damaged building is next door to a synagogue, which like many synagogues in southern Israel is located inside a bomb shelter.

During the barrage of rockets from Gaza, most Israelis huddled in bomb shelters.

Damage in apartment of many killed in Ashkelon by Hamas rocket

This view of the apartment where the man was killed shows part of the destruction.

Damaged building in Ashkelon where man was killed by rocket from Gaza

The kitchen reminded me of the home in Kiryat Malachi in 2012, where 3 people were killed by a Hamas rocket that hit their building during Operation Pillar of Defense. 

Damaged apartment of man killed by rocket hit in Ashkelon

While the apartment in Ashkelon was destroyed, the fish bowl that sat on a shelf and the flat screen TV next to it were unscratched.

Room of Apartment in building damaged by rocket in Ashkelon

Besides the apartment of the dead man, other families in the building were severely affected.

Damage of home ruined by Hamas rocket in Ashkelon

The property loss to the apartments on the side of building that was hit was extensive.

Ashkelon shopping strip near damaged building.

Though restaurants in Sderot without bomb shelters were forced to close, these stores next to the damaged building in Ashkelon were open for business as politicians arrived all day to make statements to the media eager for a story.

The building which took a direct hit with a fatality got a bit of coverage and media interest.

But Ashkelon, a city of 150,000, suffered more damage. After a sleepless night with repeated warnings of incoming rockets, many properties were damaged.

Safe room in Ashkelon home damaged because of Gaza rocket

This safe room saved a family from harm.

They were not directly hit, but a rocket that hit the roof of the building next door caused their windows to shatter.

Take a few minutes and hear a father explain his pain.

Playground in Sderot empty on day of from school because of rocket attack from Gaza

There was no school in the south, but there were no children playing on this Sderot playground.

With the constant rocket barrage, staying in or near a bomb shelter was the only wise thing to do.

MDA in Sderot ready during crisis

Across the street, Yonatan Yagodovsky of MDA first gave us instructions where to go for a red alert. Only afterwards did he describe the work and dedication of MDA over the years, and especially during the last few days.

Scene of fire from gas explosion at Sderot bakery

Sderot took direct hits from from rockets this time. Thanks to the Iron Dome not all rockets from Gaza cause damage.

However, a piece of shrapnel that fell caused a fire at this bakery.

Fire in gas tanks hit by rocket shot down by Iron dome

Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi told how three gas tanks behind him exploded and destroyed the bakery. It took hours to control the fire.

Kissufim road empty during crisis in southern Israel 500 missiles in one day

Next stop was Kissufim, note how empty the roads were in middle of the day.

Sorry I missed getting a photo of the MDA ambulances parked next to a bomb shelter at a bus stop.

Ambulances were out on the roads ready to roll in an instant, but I saw no military vehicles.

Rocket from Gaza landed between these homes caused damage to trees and homes

Kissufim is a small community near the Gaza border fence.

Over night, a rocket had fallen between this row of homes.

Glass windows were shattered. Shrapnel marks were evident.

Tree branches scattered all around.

There were no serious physical injuries as all stayed in safe rooms.

Baby seat in back of car damaged by Hamas Rocket on Kissufim

At another site on Kissufim, this car window was damaged and the baby seat exposed. Here damage was from shrapnel of a rocket which landed nearby on a pile of mulch.

kissufim home near Gaza border

This is the home next to the damaged car.

500 rockets. Rockets fell on the beach. Rockets fell between houses.

I kept thinking that it was one mini-miracle after another.

Gaza piles garbage near fence with Kissufim

Our guide at Kissufim made sure to point out the mountain of garbage over the border fence, rising from the former flat fertile fields in Gaza.

Bomb shelter on parking lot at Yad Mordechai "this area is not safe"

“This area is not protected” reads the warning not to stand near the opening in this bomb shelter in parking lot of Yad Mordechai.

We missed a red alert warning which went off before we arrived at Kissufim.

As we were to leave from Yad Mordechai, a red alert went off. Instead of running into this dark shelter alone, I headed to the one inside the restaurant where everyone gathered, waited, and then dispersed.

Residents are tired of living on the front lines of an area where they are not protected.

View of Ashkelon near sunset from moving bus

We drove back to Jerusalem, past Kibbutz Saad, past Ashkelon, as the sun set.

Terror. Anger. Frustration. Miracles. Israel.