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 lived from April 9, 1921 – November 6, 2015, and came from a long line of renowned Sephardic rabbis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
November 6, came and went with little notice, three years since he died, but new signs are seen on Jerusalem streets.
A blue historical information sign shows where Yitzhak Navon lived in his last years.
The new Jerusalem Train Station has opened.
As more people ride the new fast train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv,
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?
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.
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.
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.
At the site, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld held interview after interview with the media.
But did you see that the building across the way had shrapnel marks?
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.
This view of the apartment where the man was killed shows part of the destruction.
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.
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.
Besides the apartment of the dead man, other families in the building were severely affected.
The property loss to the apartments on the side of building that was hit was extensive.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deputy Mayor Elad Kalimi told how three gas tanks behind him exploded and destroyed the bakery. It took hours to control the fire.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
We drove back to Jerusalem, past Kibbutz Saad, past Ashkelon, as the sun set.
Terror. Anger. Frustration. Miracles. Israel.