Friday, May 1, 1981 19
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Israeli Stctmps Are Ambassadors
By SIMON GRIVER
World Zionist Press Service
JERUSALEM — Issuing
postage stamps is one of the
prerogatives of a sovereign
state. At first sight this ap-
pears to be among the more
trivial trappings of inde-
pendence but these tiny
pieces of paper are more
significant than they seem.
Stamps are big business.
Last year's new issues
brought the Israel Post
)ffice $20 million and
__early half this sum was
exports, being sold directly
Independence Day stamps
to overseas dealers and col-
lectors. But more impor- than a month before the ally less popular in coun-
tantly, stamps convey a Six-Day War, depicts Is- tries hostile to the Jewish
message, depicting a coun- raeli fighter planes.
state. In most Arab nations
try's culture and history,
The 23rd and 24th Inde- they are of course taboo.
and find their way into the
Letters sent to relatives in
albums of millions of collec- pendence Days portray the the Soviet Union are certain
tors worldwide. The good-
not to get through if they
will generated towards Is- Old City. The 25th featured bear stamps that depict a
the seal on the bottom of the
rael is immeasurable.
military theme. However,
Israel was ; in fact, one of a scroll of independence and Eastern Europeans are
handful of nations that in was available with a keen philatelists and many
the early 1950s saw the souvenir sheet of the entire collect Israeli stamps.
potential of postage stamps, scroll.
above and beyond sending
"It was decided to discon-
mail. The Post Office tinue the annual issue of
pioneered colorful com- Independence Day stamps
memorative designs that after the 25th anniversary,"
boosted sales and stimu- says Hebert Loeb, assistant
lated interest in Israeli director of the Philatelic
themes. Prominent in these Services. "The novelty of
special sets were Indepen- independence was wearing
dence Day stamps, which off and themes were limited.
were issued on each of the Ideas were not so readily
first 25 anniversaries.
available as with the festi-
The very first set of Is- val stamps where the scope
raeli stamps was issued is wider. Independence Day
on the day of indepen- stamps are now issued
dence itself in 1948. These every five years."
stamps were both com-
Loeb has worked with the
memorative and defini- Philatelic Services for more
tive (for every day use). than 30 years. He was in-
They had been illegally strumental in implement-
prepared during the last ing the program of com -
weeks of the British memorative issues with in-
Mandate, in a Tel Aviv novations like attached tabs
printing house prev- that explain the content of
iously owned by German the stamp and attract the
Protestants who had collector's eye. With modern
printed Nazi propaganda printing methods that allow
for distribution among works of art like the
Chagall Windows and
The nine stamps bore the paintings to be reproduced
design of ancient coins but in miniature, few can dis-,
not the name of a country agree that stamps are an art
for it was not known what form in themselves.
the Jewish state would be
Indeed each new issue
called: Judea, Israel or
designed by six graphic
artists who submit their
So instead the stamps ideas to a panel of experts
said "Doar Ivri," Hebrew from prestigious
Post. Today the set is a col- academies like Bezalel
lectors' item and in mint and the Faculty of Art at
condition is worth $3,000.
Tel Aviv University. The
None of the early issues original suggestions for
were printed in large num- each year's 25 new issues
bers and today they fetch came from the public.
high prices. The first Inde- The final themes are
pendence Day stamp bear- selected by a committee
ing a blue design with the of politicians, civil 'ser-
flag of Israel is worth almost vants and philatelists.
$70. Most subsequent Inde-
Approval, first of ideas
pendence Day motifs re- and later of design, must be
called the sites of great obtained by the Minister of
battles or bore flowers. This Communications. If a stamp
is because the stamps also is to include a portrait then
commemorate Memorial the matter is discussed by
Day for Israel's fallen the Cabinet. The Queen of
soldiers, which is marked on England has been known to
the eve of Independence veto the design of British
stamps and Israeli politi-
Some designs reflect the cians have also rejected
number of years of the na- motifs that they find unac-
tion's independence. An ceptable.
eight-shaped blue and
New issues frequently
white pennant, a plane
completing a figure nine sell well_over a million and
and a menora topped by 10 the festival stamps, which
green leaves. Other sets re- people use to send New Year
greetings cards, can sell up
call military themes.
The 19th Independence to 12 million.
Israeli stamps are natur-
Day stamps, issued less
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