Solemnity and Celebration
Yom Haaztmaut in Israel is preceded by Yom Hazikaron, the Memorial day for Israel's Fallen Soldiers. This coming year will be particularly sad with an additional 64 soldiers who fell in Operation 'Defensive Edge' in the summer of 2014. The poem 'On a Silver Platter' sums up the atmosphere, describing how Israelis are gifted their land on a silver platter made up of the lives of its often young soliders who died so that Israel could be established and defend itself from attack.
For Yom Hazikaron you can invite a speaker who has served in the IDF or a relative of a soldier who fell in service. You could also simply do some research into the wars and battles Israel has fought and present a display on some of the soldiers who fell.
Israelis certainly know how to grieve but they also know how to celebrate and Yom Haatzmaut in Israel is often spent together with friends and family enjoying a BBQ in the park. Perhaos you will host your own Israeli style BBQ or run an Israel activity day with traditional foods such as falafel, pitta, shwarma, Israeli salad and Israeli beers.
An opportunity for Israel Advocacy
If you are going to the trouble of hosting an event celebrating Israel, why not include an educational element correcting some of the lies spread about Israel in the media. This could be in the form of presentations and a speaker, or with pamphlets available for students to read. You can be in touch with your local Israeli Embassy or consulate for advocacy materials.
Even though Israel exists in a complex and often volatile political reality, Yom Haatzmaut is a great opportunity to take a step back and look at what the country has achieved in its humble yet wondrous 66 years. Those six and a half decades have seen sand dunes developed into a high tech goldmine and a thriving robust democracy.
Add Something New
Yom Haaztmaut can be an opportunity to arrange a centrepiece event and introduce the students on your campus to a high profile speaker, Israeli musician or cultural personality. Campaigns can arranged to coincide with Yom Haatzmaut. Previous successful campaigns include Israel Peace Week - looking at the efforts Israel has made over the years to make peace with its neighbors and a campaign looking at gender equality in Israel, celebrating the plethora of high profile women in Israel.
As an IACT Coordinator, you may find that you are best placed to organize a celebration of Israel's independence on campus.
This is an amazing opportunity to blend education with a party and in many ways it can be a missed opportunity to run a Yom Haatzmaut event that doesn't have some kind of education spin or value.
Celebrating Israel on Campus