On Yom Hazikaron, the Memorial Day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, all Israelis have one day to feel what many unfortunate families feel all year long. The pain, the sadness, the pride, a mixture of feelings and dozens of years of Israeli heritage all converge and explode on this day.
This volcano of feelings between the sadness of a loss and the happiness of the existence of the state is unique to Israel. We Israelis know how to argue, and we do that well. On every topic and in every situation, two Israelis will have three opinions. But on this day, we are all unified -- religious, secular, Left, Right, everyone comes together for one day under the banner of bereavement.
Phrases such as "Bereavement is priceless" and "The government must do everything it can to help bereaved families" must be transformed from mere phrases to everyday reality. As a society, we must appreciate those who have sacrificied their lives. We must do everything we can to help fill the void in their lives and make life easier, even if only just a little bit, for the widows, or perhaps we should call them "lionesses," so that they can move on, raise their children, and watch over them as only lionesses know how to watch over their cubs.
For years we have witnessed many humiliating measures dealt out to widows. They were denied Defense Ministry pensions if they remarried, which prevented many from doing so.
Fortunately, this is something the current parliament has rectified through legislation. A second marriage is no longer a dark phrase and funds are no longer canceled in such cases. But the road to easing the suffering of widows is still very long and we must march down it quickly before it is too late.
There was also shocking discrimination in the area of life insurance, in which a distorted practice existed to recompense widows of soldiers who served in the air force, while widows of soldiers who served in ground units received nothing. This situation raised the issue of "blue blood" representing air force soldiers versus "green blood" representing the ground troops. Such discriminatory practices, which sound more like punishments rather than reliefs, became a routine part of the bereaved lioness's life. Fortunately, this issue was also corrected several months ago through legislation by the current parliament. Thanks to the life insurance law for widows, blue blood is no longer more valuable than green blood.
Bereaved families, unlike other families, are not complete. They do not consist of a father, mother and children. Their families have been reduced and the entire child-raising burden has fallen onto the shoulders of the widowed lionesses. Brave Israeli heros sacrificed their lives for their homeland. They sacrificed their lives, and paid the highest price one can pay, doing so in one single heroic act. But the lionesses live in a continuous battlefield each day of their lives. They deserve a special citation for each time they get up in the morning to take care of their children. Raising children, educating them without their fathers, and seeing them through their induction into the Israel Defense Forces, become significant challenges for the widows, requiring special strength and character.
The lioness widows are the true heroes. On Yom Hazikaron, we should look them in the eye with pride and salute them. They represent the true might of Israel.
The author is a Likud member, an MK, an IDF orphan, and chairman of the Knesset Lobby for Widows and Orphans.