The US is moving its embassy on May 14, but Israel is celebrating its independence on Apr 18.
“They deliberately chose a tragic day in Palestinian history, the Nakba, as an act of gratuitous cruelty adding insult to injury.”
— Hanan Ashrawi
Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, so why is it celebrating its 70th anniversary on April 18?
And why are Palestinians infuriated by the Trump administration’s decision to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14?
The answer lies in two calendars.
Israel marks its public holidays using the Hebrew calendar. May 14, 1948, corresponds to the fifth day of the Jewish month of Iyar in the year 5708.
This spring the fifth day of Iyar — in the year 5778 — lines up with April 18. Israel will celebrate with parties, barbecues, fireworks over the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and an air force flyover along Tel Aviv’s shore.
Yet the State Department statement announcing the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem said, “In May, the United States plans to open a new US Embassy in Jerusalem. The opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary.”
Is the State Department unaware of the scheduling of Israeli public holidays?
“No question, they didn’t consider that,” lamented Daniel Shapiro, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Palestinians, however, have noticed. In May, Palestinians observe Nakba Day, or the “day of catastrophe.”