Israel’s loud Independence Day celebrations will be a little quieter this year.
Although fireworks are generally a mainstay of parties across the country, this year many twinkling but loud displays have been canceled due to concerns from some military veterans who say the crackle and popping add to the horrors of the battle, especially for those with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The deluge of fireworks is the same as a flurry of gunfire for us,” Ehud Amiton, a former soldier with PTSD who worked to cancel the Israeli Army Radio, told Israel’s Army Radio on Monday. fireworks. “We don’t oppose celebrations, we oppose noise.”
Israel celebrates 74 years since its creation on Thursday, and the festivities begin the night before.
The country’s main ceremony in Jerusalem, which usually boasts a grand fireworks display, will instead stage a quiet pyrotechnic show. The seaside metropolis of Tel Aviv, where locals take to the rooftops to watch the twinkling spectacle, has also scrapped fireworks this year.
Israeli Culture Minister Chili Tropper announced last month that he sided with veterans, saying it was Israel’s duty to respect veterans and recognize their struggle with PTSD, especially as the country celebrates its independence day.
“For most Israelis, fireworks may be a beautiful sight in the sky, but for them it’s the sound of gunfire and battle,” Tropper wrote on Facebook last month, announcing that this year’s national ceremony would bring down the fireworks. “They’ve fought hard enough. They’ve paid a heavy price. This year, we’re reaching out to them.”
Israel’s Independence Day comes a day after it marks its Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism. It is one of the darkest days on the calendar, as bereaved families visit cemeteries and the country comes to a standstill for a solemn moment to remember the dead. Restaurants, theaters and other places of entertainment close, and television and radio play melancholy music and stories about Israel’s wars and deaths.
The Israeli army is mandatory for Jewish men and women and the country having fought many wars over the decades, many soldiers have seen battle and almost every Israeli knows someone killed in battle.
The melancholy mood ends abruptly in the evening with a burst of jubilant Independence Day celebrations, which usually include fireworks.
The decision to cancel fireworks in many cities drew criticism from some nationalists, who saw it as an attempt to reduce Israeli patriotism.
“There is some interest here in tempering Independence Day celebrations,” Yair Netanyahu, the son of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a prominent nationalist voice, wrote on Twitter. “There have been fireworks on Independence Day for 70 years and it has never been a problem!”