This is the first in a two-part series that takes us through Israel’s short but dramatic history. Over the last few months, we’ve spent many hours, in all kinds of archives, learning all we could about Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The result is a mosaic of stories that took place on Yom Ha’Atzmaut itself, in ten year intervals, and that in some way reflect their era.
Our story begins with the first Israeli radio broadcast, which aired at 3:59pm on May 14, 1948. We’ll take you to Israel’s makeshift national radio station, just before David Ben Gurion declared the State of Israel to a hushed, listening nation. Yet using pilfered, broken British radio equipment, Israel’s first radio announcers broadcasted this heroic speech from the least glamorous of places… the bathroom of the Tel Aviv Museum.
On Israel’s 10th anniversary, a delegation of Persian Jews presented President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi with an elaborate Persian rug, shlepped all the way from Iran. Our search for this gift brought us to a carpet empire run by one of the 30,000 Persian Jews who came to Israel in the 1950s. Esther Shkalim tells us the story of her father, Peretz Shkalim and how his bicycle, piled high with Persian rugs, lead him to become Tel Aviv’s King of Carpets.
Nearly a quarter of Israel’s population gathered to watch the 20th anniversary military parade in a newly unified Jerusalem. Thousands of IDF troops marched, showcasing weaponry and tanks as fighter jets flew overhead. This was Israel’s largest Independence day parade, and also it’s last one. We’re taken back to that day by Shimon Giller, one of the soldiers—to him this day was a triumph over European anti-semitism. But for Ali Qleibo, a Palestinian who was 14 at the time, the parade underscored the trauma of occupation.
On Yom Ha’Atzmaut 1978, the legendary Israeli basketball player Tal Brody retired from the sport. His number one fan, Mishy Harmon tells the story of childhood heroes, fantasy championships, and of course, basketball. Join us at the 1977 Maccabi Tel Aviv game against the mighty Red Seska Moscow team for an incredible underdog story and even a quick lesson in Hebrew grammar.