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Testimony to important events which occurred during the period between the Lebanon War and the Intifada.
"Five years ago, our last book, `Israel's Lebanon War', offered this closing paragraph: 'We should not delude ourselves into thinking that Israel has managed to temper or uproot the Palestinian problem. The roots of the problem do not lie in Lebanon and the troubles it creates originate, first and foremost, within the Land of Israel, and not beyond its borders. The horizon before us is hazy, and it may be holding in store the seeds of a civil war that will erupt within our borders in the distant future. The greatest tragedy of the Lebanon War is that, when it was over, and the PLO had been pounded, Israel did not have the sense to choose the path of political compromise -- neither in regard to the PLO nor in regard to the Jordanians..."

Ehud Ya'ari and Zev Shiff :"Lebanon War of Deception", Shocken Publishers, 1984, pp.386-387

 

 

We were closer to the horizon than we had gauged, and out of the haze burst a war the likes of which we had never encountered -- the Intifada" [the popular Palestinian uprising against Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza Strip].

Ehud Ya'ari, Ze'ev Schiff: "Intifada"

 

 

The Jewish people must decide whether it wants an
enlarged Land of Israel [in Israel's political debate, "Eretz
Yisrael", the Land of Israel, as opposed to the State of Israel,
is the term which refers to the area of land to which the
Jewish people affirm historical/religious/emotional ties. The
term today generally refers to the land held by Israel since
the Six Day War, including the occupied territories, but can
also be used to include the area which is now Jordan] which
will be non-Jewish, undemocratic, and morally troubled, a
Land of Israel in which the Jewish people rules over another
people that is deprived of its civil rights,


OR

whether it will settled for a Land of Israel that is smaller,
but Jewish and democratic.


The Jewish people must decide whether it wants
a large Land whose incessant wars ravage its youth,
OR

a smaller Land of peace, in which the sanctity of human life
is the value most highly cherished by the state and its
leaders."


(Quoted from "Oz Leshalom - progressive religious party
affiliated with Peace Now Movement)

 

 

This letter, which I sent to [Prime Minister] Begin, was also printed in the newspapers in Israel and abroad and was read aloud at a protest rally held in Tel Aviv by "Peace Now".


Yehoshua Zamir
Kibbutz Ein-Dor
June 28, 1982

Mr. Menachem Begin
Prime Minister of Israel
Jerusalem

Dear Sir,
On Sunday, June 6, 1982, my son, Yaron, fell in battle at the Beaufort. I have not stopped crying since that day and my hand trembles as I hold my pen. In his diary, I found a poem he had written on October 16, 1978. These were its closing lines:

That same small detail -- a world of hate
With those same people and a protest singer
Can rise up now and rebel
And to the world, `Enough Killing', can yell.

Two days ago, our family gathered at my brother's kibbutz. His son-in-law was also killed in Lebanon, on June 23, 1982, during a Syrian artillery bombardment of the town of Alei. He left behind a wife who is pregnant and blessed with a baby boy less than nine months old. My brother's other son-in-law was crippled during the Six Day War. My brother's son is now serving in Lebanon as well and his wife's family lost two of its men in Israel's previous wars.

My tears dried and my hand ceased trembling when I heard his children say to their mother: "We're next in line".

When night comes I am plagued by anxiety, fearful that they shall come knocking on my door, bringing me more bitter news. Sixty members of my kibbutz are still in uniform and they are all part of my family.

I came on Aliya from the United States in 1945, managing to enter Palestine as an illegal immigrant, as did many members of my kibbutz, the fourth North American kibbutz of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement. Of the 70 people from my kibbutz who came on Aliya, more than 50 are still in the country, more than 40 of these on Ein-Dor. Not for one moment have I ever doubted that this is my country.

Our Zionist and humanist education has brought forth splendid results. Here we reside in the lower Galilee, living peacefully with our Arab neighbors, and this is the way I have educated our children. So, what could I say to my neighbor when he came to express condolences over the death of my son, Yaron, while members of his family were being shelled in Sidon, Lebanon? What could I tell Yaron when he returned from putting down demonstrations of Druse Arab residing on the Golan Heights who were refusing to accept Israeli identity cards [Israel annexed the Golan Heights in December 1981, thus imposing citizenship on all its residents who before 1967 had lived under Syrian rule]? And how could I look him in the eyes when Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories were shooting at women and children?

Does the mightiest army in the Middle East really have no other methods for dealing with these children? The ground on which I stood is beginning to give way. Are we fated to live by the sword, a sword which has been sullied by the blood of babies?

Is it not the hour to cease shooting and start talking? I do not ignore the fact that the leaders of the PLO are greatly to blame. The blackest day of my life since the Nazi atrocities was May 15, 1974, when they murdered innocent children in the Israeli town of Ma'alot. But we can seek and find partners for dialogue as we found in Egypt. We returned the Sinai to Egypt. Why could we not arrive at a fair compromise with the Palestinian people as well?

On the evening of Monday, June 7, 1982, I was deeply hurt when you and Sharon appeared on the Beaufort, all smiles, and, with the blood of our fallen sons not yet dry, you turned to him and remarked, "How fresh the mountain air atop this fortress"...

You cannot bring back my son, Yaron. But do not add further bereavement, pain, and suffering. Let the bombing of civilian-populated areas cease. Do not use spears and the bodies of our sons to try to dictate who shall rule in Lebanon. I reiterate the words of my son, Yaron:

"Enough Killing!"

You have renounced your vow of, "No more wars!". It behooves you to give back your Nobel Peace Prize.

In pain and sorrow -- and with a hope that there shall be no more war. 

Yehoshua Zamir

 


 

July 1, 1982 
The Prime Minister
For: Mr. Yehoshua Zamir
Kibbutz Ein-Dor

Dear Mr. Zamir:

I hereby confirm the receipt of your letter of June 28, 1982, and express my gratitude.

I do not dare respond to the charges of a bereaved father, this despite their content. Your language is acerbic; the substance of your remarks is, as I see it, unjustified. However, having lost a son in battle, you have full right to make use of whatever phrasing you may choose. I shall not respond.

However, speaking as one citizen to another, Mr. Zamir, I am obliged to tell you that there has never been, in our country or in any country, a more just military campaign with a nobler cause than the campaign which has been so accurately named: "The Operation for Peace in the Galilee".

The fighting men did not go off to conquer foreign land, nor even to liberate land that rightfully belongs to our people. They went into battle, putting themselves at mortal risk and even giving up their lives, for the sake of one goal and only one goal: To protect the peace and well-being of tens of thousands of people, city-dwellers and farmers, men, women, and children. A cruel, blood-thirsty enemy had been killing them, threatening them with sudden death, spilling their blood like water. We put an end to this intolerable situation. There shall be peace for all the Galilee and for all those who dwell there.

And the name of your heroic and holy son, Yaron, shall live forever in the annals of our nation.

Please extend my most heartfelt regards to everyone in your family. The Holy One shall comfort you as one of the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem; may you be spared further sorrow. 

Most Respectfully Yours,

    M. Begin

 


 

July 1982  

The Minister of Defense 

Dear Ms. Ramah and Mr. Yehoshua Zamir,

Please allow me to express my sincerest condolences over the loss of your son, Yaron, may he rest in peace.

Sergeant Yaron Zamir, may he rest in peace, gave his life for the sake of his country. He fell during the "Operation for Peace in the Galilee", at the battle for the Beaufort fortress in Lebanon, on the sixteenth day of the month of Sivan, 5742 in the Hebrew calendar (June 6, 1982). Yaron served as a combat soldier in one of the detachments that took part in the battle. His detachment encountered fire from close range and Yaron was hit by an enemy volley.

Yaron, may he rest in peace, served in the reconnaissance company of the 95th battalion of the Infantry Corps.

His superiors noted his orderliness, meticulous work habits, vigor, devotion, and sincerity, and said that he was trustworthy and took personal initiative. He was a good and devoted friend, an excellent athlete in basketball and track. Six days prior to his death, his outgoing commanding officer awarded him unit wings in recognition of the excellence and devotion he had exhibited in carrying out his unit duties. With pride in our hearts shall we preserve the sacred memory of Sergeant Yaron Zamir. 

With Greatest Esteem,

Ariel Sharon -- General (Retired) Minister of Defense

 


February 6, 1983 

To the Minister of Defense, Mr. Arik Sharon.

Dear Sir,

Eight months have passed since my son, Yaron, was killed at the Beaufort in Lebanon, and I am sending back your letter of condolence of July 1982. Except for the description of my son Yaron's character in the third paragraph, not one sentence in your letter is true.

I shall not allow you to express your condolences, and they are most certainly not sincere. For during these eight long months, neither you nor any of the high-ranking officers have found the time to come see us, console us, and answer our questions. You visited neither us nor the other parents whose sons were killed at the Beaufort: The Ben Akiva, Aliel, Sherf, Harnick, and Guterman families, and we, the Zamir family.

I shall not allow you to express your condolences, because neither personally nor through the media, did you ask our forgiveness for the pain and suffering you caused us when, atop the Beaufort, a mere 24 hours after our sons were killed there, you declared the Beaufort to be ours and made no mention of the names of those who were killed in the same place you tread.

Yaron Zamir was not taken from us. Yaron was killed in a premeditated war waged in a foreign land; there was no need for him to die and no good reason, and there shall never be a sense of consolation.

Yaron did not give his life for his country. You turned the country into an altar upon which you and your cohorts in power have sacrificed our son.

Yaron did not fall in "Operation Peace for the Galilee". He was killed in the Lebanon War, and there is no peace for the Galilee, not for the country, not for Jews abroad, and not for Lebanon either, this after 240 days of war!

Yaron was indeed killed in the battle for the Beaufort Castle in Lebanon, but we, the parents, were not permitted to have this inscribed on his gravestone.

The detachment to which Yaron was assigned did not encounter fire from close range. They were led like lamb to the slaughter, running through the open field, reinforced concrete outposts above them, unsupported by the tanks that were supposed to be brought up and never arrived. The commanders on the scene contacted headquarters and implored them to postpone the assault until the morning, for after years of various drills and mock attacks, they had concluded that the safest way of taking the Beaufort would be in the daylight.

The records show that they did not complete the action over night in any event, for outposts like these are just too hard to knock out. After many members of the assault force had been killed or wounded, it was decided to break off and postpone the rest until the morning, at which time they discovered that the place was abandoned! Why did headquarters not listen to the commanders at the site and postpone the assault until daylight, thus saving precious human lives? Why did the Beaufort have to be captured at night? Indeed, was it in order to ensure that you and Mr. Begin could stand there on the morrow and make your declarations?

True, Yaron was hit by a volley, but I still cannot rest, wondering why no medics were there with the assault teams?

Why did Moshe Safrani, one of Yaron's classmates from Ein-Dor, wait hours for medical attention after he was wounded? Yaron was killed right beside him, a few meters away. Must I really have salt rubbed in my wounds, thinking that this, too, was the result of rushing headlong into a pitiful assault, undertaken by young soldiers who had not slept in more than 48 hours, preparing equipment for a battle whose "zero hour" we ourselves determined!

I have heard you speak in various Knesset debates. You have proclaimed that no one in this country cherishes the lives of our soldiers more than you do. If that is truly the case, what are we now doing in Beirut and the Shuf mountains [overlooking Beirut to the east]? Why do our sons have to be wounded and killed on Lebanese roadways, escorting Lebanese civilians to the bank and the grocery store?

When will you finally admit your failure? You would have imposed in Lebanon a new order, founded upon bayonets, the bodies of our dead sons, and the hearts of their longing parents.

I find it hard to believe that you shall respond to this letter, as you have not responded to the letter sent you by Mona and David Sherf, the mother and father of Avikam, killed at the Beaufort as well.

I hope this letter reaches you personally and you will find the time to read it in its entirety, and upon your desk, right before your eyes, you will put the postcard I designed with my heart and soul, for you surely turned the country into the altar upon which my son, Yaron, was sacrificed. Read carefully the few excerpts that I transcribed from letters sent me by soldiers and bereaved parents, and let your soul find no repose until you have resigned and begged for forgiveness. 

With Burning Pain,

Yehoshua Zamir


 

I personally delivered this letter to the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on the day he was forced to resign. In the letter I enclosed my photomontage, "A Homeland is not an Altar", as well as the "Quotations" containing the words of soldiers and bereaved parents.

 

April 24, 1983

To:

The Prime Minister

Mr. Menachem Begin

Jerusalem

 Dear Sir,

 In another six weeks, it will be the anniversary of my son Yaron's death at the Beaufort in Lebanon. Before me is your letter of July 1, 1982, in which you reply to my first letter. You write: "I do not dare respond to the charges of a bereaved father, this despite their content..." But you go on as follows: "However, speaking as one citizen to another, Mr. Zamir, I am obliged to tell you that there has never been, in our country or in any country, a more just military campaign with a nobler cause than the campaign which has been so accurately named: `The Operation for Peace in the Galilee'.

"The fighting men did not go off to conquer foreign land, nor even to liberate land that rightfully belongs to our people. They went into battle, putting themselves at mortal risk and even giving up their lives, for the sake of one goal and only one goal: To protect the peace and well-being of tens of thousands of people, city-dwellers and farmers, men, women, and children. A cruel, blood-thirsty enemy had been killing them, threatening them with sudden death, spilling their blood like water. We put an end to this intolerable situation. There shall be peace for all the Galilee and for all those who dwell there..."

Not one day has gone by since our army entered Lebanon, since that Sunday my son, Yaron, was killed along with five of his comrades during the taking of the Beaufort by Golani reconnaissance; there has not been a day I have not shed bitter tears, thinking about the life my son and his friends have lost. And peace there is not!

Last night, some reconnaissance troops who had just been drafted were over at my house. They were with us mourning the deaths of two young reconnaissance officers, killed in Lebanon several days ago.

Have we indeed "put an end to this intolerable situation"? In the 320 days gone by since you wrote these words, 477 of our soldiers have been killed and thousands wounded!!!

However, before I go any further, I must relate to the opening words of your aforementioned letter: Indeed, are bereaved fathers only entitled "to make use of whatever phrasing [they] may choose"? Are we not entitled to have our questions answered? Are we not entitled to have our letters answered and our charges responded to? Can such a thing be true? After paying with the blood of our hearts and of our sons while fulfilling our democratic duty! Do you not have a fundamental obligation to respond to the actual content of the letter?

I am deeply saddened by the fact that you, too, have suffered loss with the passing of your dear wife who was by your side for many years. Have you indeed ceased to reason? Have you ceased to fulfill your duties as Prime Minister? Is it true that a loving and devoted husband is free to continue functioning rationally, whereas a bereaved father is not??? Furthermore, I am well aware that, in terms of our outlook on life, we represent the different and antithetical approaches that exist in Israel. In a democratic country, this is our right. But, in your capacity as Prime Minister of the entire nation, you are not entitled to act like the leader of an individual political party!

How is it possible that, in a year marked by blood and sorrow, you remained silent, even as acts of horror were taking place? After Jews scrawled the inscription, "Ashke-Nazis", upon the walls of Jerusalem homes!? [The early 1980's were a time of tense socio-ethnic conflict in Israel. Begin's Likud party styled itself the leader and savior of Israel's generally poorer Sephardi Jews, who generally traced their ancestry to the Arab countries. The Likud's opponent, the Labor party, was painted as the enemy of the Sephardis, and the bastion of Israel's more well established Ashkenazi Jewry, those of Eastern European descent. The usage "Ashke-Nazis" was an angry political-ethnic slur, implying a comparison between Ashkenazi Jewry, and their generally center-left leanings, with the murderous Nazi party.]

You and Mr. Ariel Sharon (who was still Defense Minister at the time) briefly spoke to the nation while Emil Gruenzweig [murdered by a hand grenade thrown into a Peace Now rally] lay dead (right outside your office!). How is it that, at that time, you offered no words of protest to those Jewish people who chanted, "Begin, King of Israel", their voices travelling over the airwaves all the way to my kibbutz home? (I will not recount the many times that, during election rallies and at the demonstration your party organized at [Tel Aviv's] Kings of Israel Square, you did not see fit to elucidate that the State of Israel does not instate royalty.)

Perhaps you will reply that you were misled. That is definitely possible. However, even if your speech to the nation from atop the Beaufort was sincere, why, over all these long months, have you not found a way to right the wrong done to the bereaved parents?

Likewise, how is it the "Lebanon War", on its way to becoming longer than any previous war, is the only instance you did not find time to visit the bereaved families?

And perhaps, had you visited the bereaved families and seen them up close, you would have taken our army out of Lebanon?

My heart grieves for the parents of the soldiers held captive by the PLO and I hope a solution will soon be found to return them safely home to the shelter of their families. But, try and explain to me why, in order to free captive soldiers, it is all right to negotiate with the PLO (and even accept the mediation of the Prime Minister of Austria who you are not too fond of), whereas, to prevent war and avoid thousands of prisoners, you are unwilling to engage in dialogue??? It is beyond my comprehension.

I want an answer to another question: In your capacity as Prime Minister of my elected government, why have I not heard your reaction to the latest remarks made by General [Rafa'el] Eitan, whose term as Chief of Staff you extended for another year?

I quote: "One hundred [Israeli] settlements should be set up [on the West Bank] between Nablus and Hebron, and then the Arabs will come crawling like cockroaches in a bottle, like spaced-out cockroaches."

With all due respect to Raful's [a nickname of Rafa'el Eitan] military talents, how can I go on living as if nothing ever happened? When the commander of the armed forces speaks in such a manner about people living in their own country, when Israel controls their territory? What kind of face has a nation whose government and Prime Minister relate nonchalantly to this type of language and let it pass with no reaction? And did you really refer to PLO members as "two-legged beasts"?

Did you not recently assert that we must refrain from verbal violence?

And lastly, please try to explain why you have introduced the "Peace for Galilee War Decoration" before our troops have been taken out of Lebanon? When each day, our troops, our sons, are being killed there? When Lebanon is more dangerous now than Southern Lebanon was before the war?

I reiterate the words you wrote me in your letter of July 1, 1982: "...We put an end to this intolerable situation. There shall be peace for all the Galilee and for all those who dwell there..."

Was this really a war for peace in the Galilee? You see, the entire year [prior to the war], not a single Katyusha shell was fired from Lebanon. Take a look at the bloody toll this war exacted; and when the war does draw to a close, we will have to engage in a dialogue and resolve the Palestinian issue. This war caused so much suffering on both sides and such damage to our nation's image that I continue to wonder when the men who launched it will find the courage to admit their mistake. But the bloody toll has been so great that you really should have assumed full responsibility. I have before me printed accounts taken from Israeli army officers contending that, months before the war began, they were assigned their objectives in Beirut, a city far to the north of the 45 kilometer penetration limit declared by the government. How do you have the audacity to lie before the entire nation? For you must know that, in the end, the truth is always revealed. 

Respectfully Yours,

Yehoshua Zamir


 

 

Young people do not only die in war. There are diseases and accidents as well. I can't really explain it, but my feeling is that death, any death, a young person's included, is in some manner an act of fate, of God. In war, the determining factor is not blind fate. In other words, a particular group of people has sent a young man off to war, and it is not some bolt from the blue. I think that makes the pain much more acute. This is something unbearable. 

And what does it mean that we have to pay the price? Who said we have to pay the price? Who decided it was all right to pay the price? And who has the right to even use the word "price"? Underlying this question is a huge moral dilemma, one which, I believe, the Israeli society has not resolved. And people say the words just like that, with seemingly the greatest of ease. Remember: 650 were killed in Lebanon, 2,800 during the Yom Kippur War. It's as if, by the nature of things, war has to exist. Well, it is truly not the nature of things.

Yehudit Handel, Israeli daily newspaper `Yediot Achronot'

 

 

The Idea Behind the "Bereavement and Disability Emblem"

Driven by the feeling that burns within me that, as a bereaved parent, it is my duty to do whatever I can to oppose the continuing war in Lebanon and to promote peace and peaceful co-existence; and despite my aversion to any organized activity of bereaved parents, owing to the fact that there are also other bereaved parents who differ in opinion and who are unable to oppose the war because the only thing that enables them to go on living is the belief that their son's death had purpose; and because I am totally unwilling to have bereaved parents to quarrel amongst themselves: Thus seeking the proper answer, I have arrived at the idea of the emblem, but not the bereavement emblem given out -- quite belatedly -- by the Ministry of Defense.

 

The Idea's Point of Origin

If people in this country only knew how great a number of Israeli war casualties there have been -- the deaths, the seriously wounded, the permanently disabled -- maybe this knowledge would bring about a radical change of attitude throughout the nation, and all the political parties would come under pressure from the majority of the Israeli public to pull out of Lebanon, to labor for the cessation of war, for the sake of peace.

What would occur if the President of Israel declared a Peace Week throughout the country: In all the schools, plans for peace and co-existence would be put together; the media would devote most of its air time to programs on peace and education for peace, and would give emphasis to all the peace-promoting activities. At the week's end:

Every citizen supporting peace would don the "Peace Emblem".

All the members of families who have known bereavement and disability would don the Bereavement and Disability Emblem.

 

The Emblem's Form and Content:

Perhaps the words "Peace" or "Peace is No Dream" should appear. The backing would consist of an appropriate design and varying solid colors. For example, perhaps white -- for the bereaved; green -- for the disabled; and blue -- for supporters and sympathizers.

Did you know that there are over 42,000 Israeli war casualties?

I am aware of the great obstacles lying before the realization of such a sensitive and delicate idea. I am also aware of the fact that there will be those for whom the shock of learning just how many families have been hurt will be so strong that it is liable to only make them more entrenched in their opinion that it is only through strength that we can control our future here in the Middle East. Or those who, out of despair and fear for their personal safety, might reach the conclusion that they have no business being here and it's time to pack their things and run...and make Yerida [i.e., to emigrate. The word, used only to denote emigration from Israel, literally means "going down" or "descent" and carries that moral context as well. It is the opposite of "Aliya" meaning immigration to Israel or "ascent"]...

We must not continue to sit around idly, not doing a thing. And perhaps, just bringing the idea up for discussion will evoke a significant response to help prevent future wars. Maybe it will also be a contributing factor towards a better, more thoughtful, and more in-depth treatment of all the problems faced by families who cope with disability and bereavement?

 

October 20, 1985

To: Mr. A. Fink

Department of Rehabilitation

Ministry of Defense

The Kirya [in Tel Aviv]

 

Dear Mr. Fink,

 

Several days ago, I happened to run across a pamphlet in English announcing the First International Symposium on Grief and Bereavement, that is supposed to be held in Jerusalem, starting November 15, 1985. I read your introduction with great interest.

The issue is a delicate and important one; it is infinitely difficult to find meaning in life when the thing you held most precious is no longer. So, these things considered, bringing together the best people and the greatest experts in the world for a symposium in Israel seems to be a most important step. I am hopeful that the exchange of knowledge will lead to better care for the individual and greater awareness by society. Holding in this conference in the greatest of importance, I would like to make a few comments and offer a number of suggestions:

1. In as much as the symposium is being held in Israel and since there is such a large number of bereaved families, the issue so critical for each of them -- provision must be made for simultaneous translation in all of the lectures and workshops.

2. The symposium must be advertised in the press and in the publications of the "In Memory of Our Sons" organization, so that Hebrew speakers will also be able to take part.

3. Considering the difficult (and nearly impossible) task the Defense Ministry demands that Casualties Officers perform, I would expect every effort to be made to enable them all to take part in the symposium.

4. The way the workshops are set up should enable bereaved parents (the ones whose position is the heart of the matter) to play an active role, so that each side will benefit from the other.

5. Regarding fees: Bereaved families should be given a discount.

6. I ask that you, the Israeli organizers, sound a call, loud and clear, to the governments of Israel, the Arab states, and the entire world, to make every effort for the sake of peace and to end the insanity of terror and incessant killing.

7. And perhaps it is not too late to turn to the Arab nations as well, to our counterparts there, experts and psychologists and social workers who deal with the questions of bereavement, and invite them to take part in the symposium and to issue a joint proclamation: No more war, no more bereavement wrought by the hand of man.

With blessings, and in hope that my comments will be taken into consideration,

Yehoshua Zamir

 

 

It is noteworthy that at the First International Symposium on Grief and Bereavement, which took place in Jerusalem in mid-November, 1985, I proposed a declaration that was unanimously accepted at the final plenum of 400 participants, half from Israel and half from other countries throughout the world. The following message was indeed sent to the heads of nations all over the world, including Reagan and Gorbachev who were in Vienna.

 

NOVEMBER 14, 1985

 

AS PEOPLE WHO ARE INTIMATELY FAMILIAR WITH THE PAIN OF GRIEF AND DEATH, WE APPEAL TO YOU, THE TWO MOST POWERFUL LEADERS IN THE WORLD, FOR POLICIES THAT WILL LEAD TO LIFE.

 

THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY.

 

April 1986

Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers. Thoughts expressed by Ziva Meron.

Being born several years after the creation of the state and growing up feeling that we'd missed out, we'd arrived too late.

We arrived too late for the bravery and the heroism and the moment of truth. Becoming acquainted with faces of those who had been kibbutz members, who had children named after them. "And in their death, they bequeathed us life." Close parentheses. When we grow up, there won't be any more wars.

Digging trenches in preparation for the Six-Day War: My neighbor was a Holocaust survivor; I saw her collapse, and grasped the rush of memories inundating her. And thinking how glad we are to be born here, and we're not afraid. Knowing that our cause is just; that the good guys will win. Inducted to the army during the War of Attrition; employing gallows humor to release hidden fears. What's all this talk in the story of the Sacrifice about Abraham and Isaac and the ram; we're grown-ups, but this isn't real war.

Coming to Ein-Dor. Getting used to the black and sticky soil that took the place of soil red and sandy; becoming one with the sight of Mt. Tabor from the fields of Ein Dor, as we picked melons at 4:30 in the morning. Getting to know the laughing people, the annoying people, the dead people. If you want to belong, you have to get to know them, too.

When the Yom Kippur War came, it was our turn, classmates from high school, the class one year behind me in elementary school; friends from the army, friends from the army, friends from the army. The husbands of friends from my University days. It's easy with them. It's only by fortune I'm not in their position. But what do you say to the fathers?

Learning how to speak to fathers without the use of words. Even when you have a grave in the black and sticky soil, you still have to dig into it in order to feel like you belong.

And then it was their turn; like the children with whom I went night hiking, whom I expelled from class when they hadn't done their homework. With whom I had passionate arguments about the meaning of responsibility and being a part of things -- all of a sudden, it was their turn. Like a knife in my back, I realized it was their turn.

"My brother, Jonathan, my young brother, Judah". Even if you had never felt like Isaac, you couldn't escape Abraham's feelings of doubt and guilt.

Learning to live with the doubt and the guilt. This, too, is part of the pain of belonging. "As the mole and the plough loosen the soil and make it arable, so do doubt and love serve this purpose in our world".

Knowing that, as far as we're concerned, only a world such as this allows flowers to blossom when comes the spring.

  

 

"If not for war..."

In lieu of an epilogue

 

"How many tragedies has war produced? How many people have died or been crippled? How many have been robbed of the chance for a productive life? Who knows how many of those whom war has destroyed and crippled could have become great - the Lomonosovs, the Pushkins, the Mendeleyevs, the Tolstoyevskys, the Tschaikovskys, the Pavlovs, and the Gorkys of our time? There are certainly some amongst them who would have become great scientists and would have filled our lives with greater promise and light.

If not for war, the world would long since have become a wonderful place in which to live. Our age has an opportunity to construct and create a world that is beautiful and splendid. To feed, clothe, and provide shelter for all of humanity, not just in this generation, but in the centuries ahead as well.

The world's land and water hold an inexhaustible supply of energy and natural resources, and there is no need to fear that they may lack. Soon flights will be made to outer space - to the moon, and, subsequently, the nearest planets. This will provide us with an even greater opportunity to enrich our life with rare materials and elements that are bound to be in greater abundance on the surface of the planets than on the earth.

We will be able to do this, if there shall not be war..." 

Herman Wouk: `War and Remembrance'.

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