Mount Herzl

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Mount Herzl, the burial site of Theodore Herzl, Austrian visionary and founder of modern Zionism, is on the western side of Jerusalem. In 1952 it became the national military cemetery and is the site of the annual ceremony marking the sharp transition between the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Resistance Fighters and Israel Independence Day. It was here that the funeral of Israel’s assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, attended by leaders from around the world and viewed world-wide, took place. Though some state officials ask to be buried elsewhere, it is the designated resting place of Prime Ministers, Presidents and Knesset Speakers. Nonetheless, there are exceptions and deciding who merits a Mt. Herzl burial has been controversial at times. For instance it took 24 years between the death of Revisionist Party leader Ze’ev Jabotinskly in 1940 and his reinterment at Mount Herzl in 1964, when Levi Eshkol finally over-ruled strong opposition by the ruling Labor Party members. They saw Jabotinsky unfit for the honor of burial at Mt. Herzl due to his ultra-right wing philosophy and writings. Things change; today’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu is a direct political descendant of Jabotinsky.

Herzl made his wishes clear when he wrote in 1903:

"I wish to be buried in a metal coffin next to my father, and to remain there until the Jewish people will transfer my remains to Eretz Israel."

 

Herzl died a year later and was buried in Vienna, and though it took another 45 years, one of the new country’s first acts was to bring Herzl’s remains to be re-interred in Jerusalem.

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