(photo: screen capture: Channel 2)

(photo: screen capture: Channel 2)

By Jonathan Beck - April 22, 2015

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel

Lucy Aharish, an Israeli-Arab news anchor and actress, was among the 14 torch lighters in the official ceremony kicking off Israel’s celebrations of 67 years of independence on Wednesday night. Almost breaking down at the ceremony, she was the only one of the honorees to give part of her brief address in Arabic.

Aharish, 33, a Muslim Arab whose parents hail from Nazareth but who was educated in Jewish institutions, instantly became a target of far-right criticism when it was announced earlier this month that she had accepted the honor of lighting a torch at the state Independence Day ceremony.

Some left-wing critics said her accepting the honor constituted an agreement to serve as a fig leaf of the government.

From the extreme right — Lehava, a group acting to prevent intermarriage and other integration by non-Jewish citizens in Israeli life — was prevented by the police from protesting against Aharish’s involvement in the event.

The group was planning to demonstrate outside the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, where the ceremony took place, but did not receive police approval for the protest.

Aharish was teary-eyed when she took her turn at the ceremony, saying she was lighting the torch “for all human beings wherever they may be who have not lost hope for peace, and for the children, full of innocence, who live on this Earth.

“For those who were but are no more, who fell victim to baseless hatred by those who have forgotten that we were all born in the image of one God. For Sephardim and Ashkenazim, religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, sons of this motherland that reminds us that we have no other place. For us as Israel, for the honor of mankind, and for the glory of the State of Israel,” she said. Read More