Reality – 9 May

9th of May poster, courtesy of Mr. Arcadi Gaydamak

Hebrew: Keeping the heritage

Russian: Thanks for your valiant feat

These signs were put all around Jerusalem by Mr. Arcadi Gaydamak. Remember him? This time he is organizing a parade of The Great Patriotic War veterans, which the municipality of Jerusalem allegedly tried to cancel.

Gaydamak has money, so the design of these signs is very good. The writing is in Hebrew – throughout the whole city i’ve seen only one in Russian. There’s an Israeli flag too. But what is that Yellow-Black stripe? And the flowers? And what heritage is the sign talking about?

Every year as the 9th of May comes Soviet-born Israelis are shocked to find out that nobody knows what happened on the 9th of May, let alone celebrates it.

On that day the Soviets, with a little help from from the Western Allies, kicked the German Fascists’ ass – at least that’s what they taught us in Soviet schools. In the USSR “The Great Patriotic War” was usually said instead of “The Second World War”, “German Fascists” was usually said instead of “Nazis”, “Soviets” was mixed up with “Russians” in various ways, and the role of the Western Allies is a matter of heated discussion, but the main thing always remained – the 9th of May is День Победы, the Victory Day. Many countries have their national holidays in the form of an Independence Day, but Russia needs no independence from no-one (although there is some ridiculous “Independence Day” in Russia since 1992, but few people take it seriously.) USSR and Russia’s greatest national holiday, one with which the people really identify is the Victory Day. The concept of Victory was pretty strong in the USSR; it was especially convenient to talk about The Great Victory over the German Fascists, ‘cuz hey – the whole wide world agrees that the German Fascists were the bad guys.

In Israel few people know what happened on the 9th of May. So they don’t understand what is that “heritage”.

The Yellow-Black stripe is Ribbon of Saint George, attached to the Cross of Saint George award in the Russian Empire, canceled after the October Revolution and restored in The Great Patriotic War under the name “The Order of Glory”. Now it is called George’s Ribbon again and is becoming a semi-official symbol of the Victory Day in Russia, like the Israeli flags on cars on Israel’s Independence Day. Together with the flowers it looks very much like a Soviet greeting card for – you guessed it – 9th of May.

There’s also a linguistic curiosity: In Hebrew the date is written as “9 מאי” – literally “9 May”, while it should have been “9 במאי” – literally “9 in/of May”. But in Russian there’s no preposition, but a case ending – “9 Мая”. I wonder what exactly were they thinking. I’m quite sure that it’s not just a silly mistake – there must be a sensible reason for that.

2 Responses to “Reality – 9 May”


  1. 1 Arcady Gaydamak 2007-07-17 at 17:10

    Il faut l’arreter celui là :)


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