UIA Yom Ha’atzmaut mission strengthens participants and the People of Israel

06 June 2024

This article was first published on May 28, 2024 by J-Wire.


Despite the ongoing turbulent and stressful situation that Israel is currently facing, UIA and its supporters felt compelled, more than ever before, to show their unwavering support for our brothers and sisters in Israel at a time that they need it most.

UIA Yom Haatzmaut Mission


From 7 until 16 May 2024, 34 participants from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth participated in a UIA Yom Ha’atzmaut Mission to strengthen the People of Israel with the participants experiencing a journey that will remain in their hearts and minds for years to come.


Between sightseeing and taking in the tastes and textures of the Holy Land, participants heard from high-calibre speakers who gave professional and personal insights into the fields of politics, security and culture. This included Sarit Zehavi from the Alma Centre which specialises in Israel’s security challenges, who ran a simulation of the complex situation in the North as well as Yuval Rotem, the former Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Michal Uziyahu (guest speaker at UIA’s 2024 Gala events) from the Eshkol Regional Council which forms part of the Gaza Envelope, accompanied the group through the ruins of Kibbutz Nir Oz to witness the devastation left behind. Additionally, Maayan Dee, a survivor of the Nova Festival Massacre on October 7, accompanied the participants to the Reim Nova Festival Memorial to get a heart-wrenching but informative understanding of the atrocities that occurred there. Other prominent guests and speakers that Mission participants heard from and met included Nimrod Palmach, CEO of ISRAEL-is. an organisation dedicated to improving global perceptions of Israel, as well as Iris Haim, whose son Yotam was abducted by Hamas from Kibbutz Kfar Aza and then fatally shot in error by the IDF.


Yom Hazikaron was equally poignant as participants joined in a moving memorial ceremony with 6,000 participants from Masa Israel Journey. This was the largest English-speaking ceremony in Israel and paid tribute to the brave IDF soldiers and victims of terror who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of our people.


Highlights from the experience included a special Erev Yom Ha’atzmaut event celebrating inspirational Israeli heroes with other Keren Hayesod-UIA Missions from around the world at Attura Mini Israel in Latrun. Participants were also given the opportunity to pack care packages for soldiers in the North with Keren Hayesod-UIA Missions from Brazil, Mexico and Panama before meeting with evacuees in Kiryat Shmona.


UIA Yom Haatzmaut Mission


Participants also saw and felt the impact that UIA-supported projects are making on Israeli lives and society. From a visit to Net@ Kfar Saba which provides technological training to disadvantaged high school youth to a visit to Hadassah Neurim Youth Village, which helps students with integration difficulties to become contributing members of Israeli society; to Amigour in Tel Aviv which provides subsidised housing for Holocaust survivors and senior citizens, participants received an in-depth understanding of how their philanthropy is supporting those who need it most.


Other places that Mission participants were taken to included Hostage Square, a plaza located in Tel Aviv where exhibitions calling to bring back the hostages from Gaza are displayed, the ‘cemetery’ of the burned cars from the Nova Festival and a graffiti tour in Tel Aviv, including the Walls of Hope murals dedicated to the children kidnapped by Hamas. The Mission also visited the Hostage Forum to meet families of those currently held in Gaza by Hamas. There was also an exclusive and once-in-a-lifetime visit to an IDF Navy Base in Haifa.


Mission participant Brenda Taback reflected on the experience: “I had no idea what to expect but this trip surpassed all expectations. From the education to the inspiring talks and the ability to see Israel so thoroughly from the inside, it has been a life-changing experience,” while Geoff Midalia added: “I’ve learned so much about this wonderful country these past two weeks, and even more about its beautiful people; especially the resilient young who will have the responsibility of rebuilding it. I’ve also gained more knowledge of how much UIA does for the country and I give thanks for taking us on such a brilliant, heart-rendering, joyful and tearful journey.”


UIA NSW Shlicha and Executive Director Gily Rosenberg added to this sentiment by saying: “It was so heartwarming to see, hear and feel the gratitude that the People of Israel showed us for coming to support them at such a critical moment in our history. It was a privilege to see how our work impacts lives there which gave us the motivation we need to keep going – it’s going to be a journey, but we’ll get there together.”


The UIA's next Solidarity Missions will run in October 2024. You can find out more information and register your interest in participating in a UIA mission by visiting our UIA Missions page. 


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