Article - Memorial Day
MEMORIAL DAY 5744 (1984)
BET YAD LE-BANIM" (MEMORIAL CENTER) IN MEMORY OF THE DRUZE COMMUNITY WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR ISRAEL
The ties between the Druze and the Jewish peoples have a long history. They are mentioned by Rabbi Benjamin of Toledo in the 12th century, while in our own times the Druze have fought side by side with the Jews in their struggle to establish a Jewish state, taking part both in the fight against the British and later, in the War of Independence.
In the 1950s, the Druze community successfully appealed to the government to be permitted to send their sons to compulsory military service in the IDF and during the 1950s and 1960s, Druze soldiers served in the special minority units. All this time they pleaded to be accepted for service in the regular Israeli units.
Their request was eventually granted, and today Druze soldiers are to be found serving in most of the units of the IDF. In May 1969, Warrant Officer Lotfie Nasr ei-Deen was killed when in pursuit of a group of infiltrators who had crossed the border in the Aravah (Arabah) area on a terrorist mission. His death came as a great blow to the people of Daliyat Al Karmil, the Druze village in which he lived, and his funeral was attended by thousands of mourners including Moshe Dayan, the then Minister of Defense.
Lotfie's father, Amal Nasr ei-Deen, a member of the Knesset, decided to set up an organization, that would deal with the special problems of the hundreds of bereaved Druze families, and that would be affiliated to the national Yad Le-Banim organization which concerns itself with perpetuating the memory of Israelis who have fallen in defense of their country. In the 1970s, he turned to the Israel authorities with a request that a "Bet Yad Le-Banim" be set up in Daliyat Al Karmil in honor of the fallen Druze, similar to all those in other towns and villages in Israel.
Amal Nasr ei-Deen proposed that "Oliphant House", a 100-year-old European-style house standing in the western part of the Druze village of Daliyat Al Karmil and commanding a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and Mt Carmel, be restored and used for this purpose.
"Oliphant House", was built in 1882 by Lawrence Oliphant, a "righteous gentile", who visited the Holy Land and traveled it from end to end. He developed a deep friendship with the inhabitants of Daliyat Al Karmil, who provided him with a plot of land and helped him build a house in which he lived together with his wife and the Jewish poet Naftali Imber, who wrote the words of the Jewish national anthem "Hatiqwa". In the course of time the house had fallen into decay and by converting it into a Memorial Center, it would be preserved as an historical building.
The proposal was accepted by the authorities and the house, together with two-and-a-half acres of land around it, was put at the disposal of the Organization for erecting a Memorial Center in memory of the sons of the Druze who fell in Israel's wars. The spare land was put at the disposal of the Housing Ministry for building houses for demobilized Druze soldiers. With financial assistance from the government, "Oliphant House" was restored and prepared for its new use, and in April 1982 the Center opened its doors. Plans were drawn up for adding to the site a number of new buildings that would contain classrooms, a gymnasium, a library, a memorial room and offices, thus turning "Oliphant House" into an educational and cultural center in which activities would take place day in and day out.
"Oliphant House" draws a constant stream of visitors, both from within Israel and from abroad, and organized groups of youngsters and schoolchildren come from all over the country to learn for themselves of the contribution of the Druze community to the security of the State of Israel.
The stamp depicts the Oliphant Hosue - Memorial to Fallen Druse Soldiers. The tab inscription is: "Memorial Day for the Fallen in Israel's Battles - 1984".