Memorial day 1984

  • Issue: April 1984
  • Designer: R. Dayagi
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 77
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

"Bet Yad Le-Banim" (Memorial Centre) in memory of the Druse Community who gave their lives for Israel

The ties between the Druse and the Jewish peoples have a long history. They are mentioned by Rabbi Benjamin of Toledo in the 12th century, while in our own times the Druse have fought side by side with the Jews in their struggle to establish a Jewish state, taking part both in the fight against the British and later, in the War of Independence.

In the fifties, the Druse community successfully appealed to the government to be permitted to send their sons to compulsory military service in the IDF and during the fifties and sixties, Druse soldiers served in the special minority units. All this time they pleaded to be accepted for service in the regular Israeli units.

Their request was eventually granted, and today Druse soldiers are to be found serving in most of the units of the IDF. ln May 1969, Warrant Officer Lotfie Nasr el-Deen was killed when in pursuit of a group of infiltrators who had crossed the border in the Araba area on a terrorist mission. His death came as a great blow to the people of Daliyat Al Karmil, the Druse village in which he lived, and his funeral was attended by thousands of mourners including Moshe Dayan, the then Minister of Defence.

Lotfie's father, Amal Nasr el-Deen, a member of the Knesset, decided to set up an organisation, that would deal with the special problems of the hundreds of bereaved Druse families, and that would be affiliated to the national Yad Le-Banim organisation which concerns itself with perpetuating the memory of Israelis who have fallen in defence of their country. In the seventies, he turned to the Israel authorities with a request that a "Bet Yad Le-Banim" be set up in Dalyat Al Karmil in honour of the fallen Druse, similar to all those in other towns and villages in Israel.

Amal Nasr el-Deen proposed that "Oliphant House", a 100-year old European-style house standing in the western part of the Druse village of Dalyat Al Karmil and commanding a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean and Mt Carmel, be restored and used for this purpose.

"Oliphant House", was built in 1882 by Lawrence Oliphant, a "righteous gentile", who visited the Holy Land and travelled it from end to end. He developed a deep friendship with the inhabitants of Dalyat Al Karmil who provided him with a plot of land and helped him build a house in which he lived together with his wife and the Jewish poet Naftali IMBER, who wrote the words of the Jewish national anthem "Hatiqwa". In the course of time the house had fallen into decay and by converting it into a Memorial Centre, it would be preserved as an historical building.

The proposal was accepted by the authorities and the house, together with two and a half acres of land around it, was put at the disposal of the Organization for erecting a Memorial Centre in memory of the sons of the Druse who fell in Israel's wars. The spare land was put at the disposal of the Housing Ministry for building houses for demobilised Druse soldiers. With financial assistance from the government, "Oliphant House" was restored and prepared for its new use, and in April 1982 the Centre opened its doors. Plans were drawn up for adding to the site a number of new buildings that would contain classrooms, a gymnasium, a library, a memorial room and offices, thus turning "Oliphant House" into an educational and cultural centre in which activities would take place day in and day out.

"Oliphant House" draws a constant stream of visitors, both from within Israel and from abroad, and organised groups of youngsters and schoolchildren come from all over the country to learn for themselves of the contribution of the Druse community to the security of the State of Israel.

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Memorial day 1984