Address by Rabbi Raymond Apple at the 2017 ANZAC Day commemoration at the Jewish graves, Commonwealth War Cemetery, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem.
The First World War was more than a lifetime ago.
Those who fell in combat were mostly boys. They are still boys. Age never wearied them, unlike those who came home and grew old.
The Jewish ex-service community in Australia used to call the survivors the AKs, for reasons you can work out for yourselves.
In time the AKs passed away and even the YKs from the Second World War, such as are still with us, are AKs themselves.
Both groups are part of our commemoration on Anzac Day.
But we are in two minds about it.
Nearly a hundred years since the so-called Great War we are proud of man’s great, memorable achievements of culture, science and technology.
The AKs would be proud that they helped to make these achievements possible.
At the same time they would be ashamed of the world’s great, memorable failures, especially the limping lack of success of the rhetoric of 1945 that the United Nations would save the world from the scourge of war.
Everywhere there are conventional battles – including the cruel internal conflicts that tear nations asunder; the terrors of noon and night that shatter man’s safety; the wars of words that sloganise the world and scandalise decent human beings; and the outlaws all over the globe who can’t or won’t be reined in.
We still haven’t learnt how to hold back the hatreds, to eliminate the enmities, to counter the cruelties.
The AKs and YKs would shake their heads and sadly remind us that they stood for the Jewish principle, “See in each other the face of a brother or sister, yearning to sit peacefully under their vine or fig tree with none to make them afraid!”