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A Diary: Part One

The sections of a diary kept regularly since June 6, 1982.

"I always thought that there is a limit to the amount of sadness that a human being can contain - and now it seems that that's not the case"

*Ya'el Na'or, Yaron's friend*

June 1982

And on that fateful day, I sat by the extruder machine in the Tel-Dor factory. At that very place and it was 7 AM. Yechiel and Shraga walked up to me and I became frozen still. Everything came to a halt. Even my heart nearly stopped beating. Yechiel said one only word, "Yaron", and it was all over. Leaning on these two for support, I walked slowly home where I would try to pass on to Ramah this bitter news. And nothing can compare to a mother's reaction. She wailed and wailed until she had no strength left to wail any longer. And friends started arriving at our house, trying to surround us with love and console us - as if that were possible. I can't go on describing these hard, terrible days of burning pain over the loss of a young life and of the awful, frustrated feeling that this war was not a necessary one. This whole war won't do a thing except turn more people into refugees and cause suffering to the thousands of families who will see their loved ones wounded and their children taken from them.

And back to you, Yaron. Will I ever really get to know you, ever gather together all my memories and all that was you.

The longest days of the year.

The sun rises and sets, the sky fire-red, blood-red. The special, ominous glow in the sky. Once, when everything was normal -- when I was still hopeful and optimistic -- the skies were full of beauty and hope. Now, they are an almost apocalyptic reminder: In the red of the skies, I see the fire of Holocaust furnaces and tanks bursting into flames...

Today, at 7 AM, Yechiel and Shraga walked up to me again and told me that my niece's husband, Gal, was killed! How long can this go on?

June 25, 1982

The slaughter goes on day after day. How can we live like this? And at the same time, the mothers, wives, and children around me look at me and wonder about the fate of their loved-ones, somewhere over there...and the not-knowing and the anxiety ravenously eat away at them. The uselessness and senselessness of it all - am I getting this message through to them, too? I know that life must go on. My question is, "How?". I can't bring back Yaron. Did I really give him everything I could have.

Soon, we'll be receiving the army gravestone for Yaron's grave.

A macabre thought. It shouldn't be too hard. The Israeli army must have a warehouse stocked with carved stones, with the inscription already on them, "_________, of blessed memory, fell in Lebanon in the War for Peace in the Galilee".

Doesn't it make sense to try a joint project with Raya Harnick? She's a programming editor on the radio and I'm a photographer and video cameraman. Maybe a documentary, about how the six boys who fell at the Beaufort Castle grew up, and about whether it could have been avoided? And about how we can go on raising sons in this country?...And speaking of the idea of recalling the six who fell, should it just be about these six? You see, when you get right down to it, although each of the six risked his life, and despite our wish to pay respect to the sons who are no longer with us, everyone who fought there deserves just as much! Where are the educators and psychologists to help me understand where we went wrong with their education?...And what are we doing now? What have we not done that we will be able to do in the future?

...and I'm honest with myself. Would I have stood up and walked out of my anonymity had I not been personally stricken? And where was I after the Yom Kippur War, when four members of my kibbutz were killed?

Question Marks After the War's End

Grappling with the question, how to convince the majority who voted for Begin that we've had enough of war. Is it even possible? What must we do so that we can at least try talking to one another? And how can we go on if the misperception, the extremism, and the violence continue? How can we attain co-existence with the Palestinians if we can't reach it with the Likud party and its backers? Are we allowed at this time to give up in despair? Can we ask the parents left bereaved by Israel's wars to join an attempt at dialogue? How do I honor Yaron's memory through activism and struggle? How do you go on living after you've buried a son?


Why do we only ask forgiveness from the dead? You see, they can't hear us.

July 2, 1982

I just got back from a Peace Now protest rally in Tel Aviv [Peace Now is Israel's largest extra-parliamentary peace movement; it opposed the Lebanon War and favors far-reaching concessions in order to reach peace treaties with the Arab nations]. There were around 100,000 people there and amongst other things they heard my letter to the Prime Minister. On the television news, they broadcasted Dov Goldstein quoting the last portion of the letter: "You can't bring back my son Yaron...", and thus many heard the cry in Yaron's poem "Enough Killing!". I felt a great deal of identification with me at the rally while the letter was being read. I hugged my daughter, Naomi, who stood next to me and I cried inside, feeling that maybe I had contributed something to the possibility that our voice would be heard. After the rally, the closer I got to home, I began thinking again, where do I go from here?

...Could Yaron's death at the Beaufort have been avoided?

How will I cope with the death of my son? How will my family cope? And how will the whole kibbutz, my home, deal with it all?

How can I avoid at all costs making "political capital" out of Yaron's death? And at the same time, how can I do everything possible so that when the next war breaks out I'll be able to stand up and say: I did all that I could to keep it from happening? Will I really find the strength for all of this?

Even worse, isn't there a horrible bind in all this: The more I do to prevent another war and to initiate a dialogue for peace, the more time I'll be taking away from my family, and this is an injustice that can't be atoned for, especially at a time like this. How can I keep my feelings from turning to stone while maintaining my activism? How do you overcome the despair and sorrow and manage to at least listen to one another with respect?

How shall I not reach despair when all my hopes and dreams are being dashed to pieces by the animosity expressed towards kibbutz members and by the violence directed at anyone who prefers negotiations to armaments.

Sunday, July 4, 1982

Precisely four weeks ago, on Sunday night, Yaron was killed.

We've returned from a visit to Yossi Aliel's parents, Avraham and Fania, in the town of Kfar Tavor. They welcomed us into the new extended family. They talked about Yossi for over an hour. He was their youngest and was about to follow in his father's footsteps, the two older daughters having gotten married. Their house is located at the major intersection of Kfar Tavor and they really loved the guys in the Elite Reconnaissance unit, especially Avikam Sherf who would always drop in on his way home to Kibbutz Bet Zera. Fania would always ask them about the guys, hoping to get them to talk about what they do. But she never managed to get a word out of them. Now it's all over.

They are convinced that the capture of the Beaufort was necessary, and nothing will change their minds. Ramah and I decided before we got there not to drop even a hint of political debate, and that is how we behaved. Avraham told us that in all the years Kfar Tavor had existed, not one of its children had been killed in war. He's had his fill of war, and he has another nine brothers who took part in all of Israel's wars, and he never dreamed that a bullet could hurt Yossi...Avraham is certain that all the actions taken had to be taken, and that what happened to them is just cruel fate. We didn't want to upset him, so we didn't argue.

I wondered about another difference between me and a farmer who loses a son, a son who, throughout the years, had helped him farm; they had plowed the same furrows, shared the same concerns. Yossi was his heir, the one who would carry on. And now, Avraham can see no good reason for going out to work in the fields. For what? All his life he had done everything with the intent of bequeathing his land to his son. And now...

Ramah and I talked again about how we didn't love Yaron any less, but nonetheless, we realized that the Aliels had so many more concrete "points of contact", points which we, on the kibbutz, couldn't have had. And that's the feeling we have, despite the observations Rachel Manor of Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek made when we spoke with her about the collective education system and the pluses and minuses of having the children sleep at home with their parents versus together in the children's houses. She remarked that the quantity of our connections is quite unimportant when compared to their quality. Continuing her line of reasoning, it's clear to me that the most important thing to do after the death of a loved one is to create and enhance and preserve as many moments of meaningful contact as possible, with family and with friends.

July 7, 1982

We've been speaking a lot with Noah, the social worker, mostly about our fears and feelings as we approach the ceremony marking 30 days since Yaron's burial. I very much want for Ramah to find at least a small release from her tensions and fears, and it's good that Noah has been with us. She talked about the norm which says that, "You don't cry", and about how good it was that on Ein-Dor it's now considered okay to cry...

We had a long talk with Chito, whose son Yaniv had been killed. Yaniv had been Yaron's close friend. Chito was scared of the same thing, that, god forbid, the passing of time would let the memories and the ties slip away from us like a dream.

Ramah vehemently protested remarks made by her sister who had tried to console us by saying, "Time heals all wounds; life is stronger and makes us forget".

July 9, 1982

...We returned home from the cemetery. We sat around with the reconnaissance unit members and talked for hours. It was a time of true grace. They went on and on recounting stories.

I asked Moti, who had replaced Goni, to tell again what had gone on at the Beaufort, and this is how I remember his remarks:

Yaron returned with Yom-Tov. They had been working all night to prepare the communications equipment. Yaron was tapped to be communications man accompanying Kaplinski, the reconnaissance unit's new commanding officer. Reaching the Beaufort towards evening, fire was opened on them from the village of Arnun, and Kaplinski was wounded. Goni took over from him and Yaron became Moti's communications man. It was decided to take the Beaufort by infantry assault, and they split up into three squads. Moti and his troops ran up the dirt road. As long as they were in an area that gave them cover, everything was all right. After they came around the bend in the road and entered open spaces, Moti realized that only nine of his soldiers were still with him. The rest had been killed or wounded. Yossi and Yaron had been killed at this stage, Moshe wounded.

This was essentially the stage when the combat in the trenches began. Gil, Avikam, and Raz were killed right at the start; he and Goni kept going until they had knocked out every last bunker, and after Goni was killed, the mission's superior officer radioed and instructed him to retrieve the wounded and make their way back, the decision having been made to stop for the night and continue the day after.

Ramah and I asked to hear about Yaron. Moti explained how Yaron had informed him about Kaplinski being wounded. He was amazed and astounded that even though he was under fire for the first time, Yaron kept his cool and retained his smile and his normal tone of voice. Usually, soldiers curl up inside and function mechanically, like "robots".

Time and again, everyone commented on how Yaron had done everything that was expected of him. And he did it, they said, not only with all his heart and to the best of his ability, but at a true level of excellence.

July 5, 1982

It takes a huge apparatus to wage a war; politics is based on large organizations; to establish peace we use small building blocks, laid one by one, ever so slowly, through small deeds.

So here is my idea: Sign people up at protest rallies and ask them something else: What are you willing to do? With which of your friends and acquaintances are you willing to go and talk? Or call on the phone? To try and reach a dialogue? And maybe that's the root cause of the problem? The fact is that once we started a dialogue with Egypt, the peace process began making progress.
This morning I called Dan Ben-Amotz. He had wanted me to come to the Hamam nightclub in Jaffa for a dialogue with another bereaved parent, one who supports the war. In his eyes, our situation is a tragic one and such a counterpoint would, he believes, make us see our own tragedy. My response was that I could not do it because it would certainly mean causing pain to that bereaved father. I don't have the strength to take away from him the little that he has, the sense that his son had served a just cause.

...I took two books out of the library today: "Tin Soldiers on Jerusalem Beach" by Amia Lieblich, and "Death and the Family" by Lily Pinkas. Yesterday I took out a book by Frankl, "Man's Search for Meaning". In it he writes that, "suffering somehow ceases to be suffering, the instant it finds a meaning, like the meaning of self-sacrifice. Indeed, man is willing to suffer on condition that he finds meaning for his goes without saying that suffering seems pointless to the extent that it is not absolutely necessary."

A few days from now will be 30 days since Yaron's burial. Here's what I wrote ten days ago:

"My father was killed before I was born and now I mourn the death of my son, Yaron. With whom shall I talk, to whom shall I write? I don't believe in God because it's just not possible that someone created such a cruel and merciless world. I don't believe that the dead can hear us, so all that I can do is talk to the living.

...I write and my eyes are red with tears. The days go by and I do not know how I'll go on living after the death of Yaron, my son. Each day I rise, go to work, continue my routine, and dread the possibility that the passing of time will take Yaron further from me. I am frightened lest the day arrive that I will have become "accustomed" to the fact that Yaron is gone, and that's that.

If there is anything that comforts me, it's the fact that every day his friends come to our house and share with us stories from the lives they spent together with Yaron. So, as time flies by, Yaron becomes closer to us. We're starting to know him as we never had, and I can only hope that we knew him as he truly was. I'm not embarrassed to say that I feel hurt over every opportunity wasted that we could have been with him, hurt that I could have written him more and didn't; to hear him, touch him, know him, understand him, support him, rub down his aching muscles one extra time.
...I won't say, "such is fate". Perhaps, if he had been killed in some accident, these are the words I'd use. But Yaron was killed in a cruel war, a war I cannot justify, a war which raises the toughest questions I have ever faced; the fundamental truths of my entire life; all the goals because of which I made Aliya (immigration to Israel) and took part in the building of the country and the kibbutz. Even the loftiest goal cannot justify any and all means. If living securely in our country means that we have to turn hundreds of thousands of Arabs into refugees for the second and third time, is our goal, then, really sacred?

...When I couldn't reach an understanding with Yaron on some issue, I would say: "What can you do? That's the way it goes with a child born later in life, with a distance of 40 years between us..." And now the gap in age will get ever wider...Am I making everything seem bleak just because my son is dead? I told Ramah about the great importance of bringing back those moments of grace with Yaron, moments we hadn't even known about, to support us through times of anxiety and despair. I recalled stories of people tortured in prison, put in solitary confinement, water dripped slowly on their foreheads for hours at a time. How could they, too, have maintained their sanity except by recalling grace-filled memories of beautiful scenery or other settings. I also thought of talking about the gratitude we feel for all the members of the kibbutz and our friends who have given us support during these awful days. Gratitude not only for those who approached us, but for those, too, who still, one month later, cannot even say, "Hi!", when we cross on the path, so great is their discomfort. And gratitude for all those who cry aloud with us, in public and in private. We 're not embarrassed to cry, and if we don't cry more in public, it's because we don't want to make others feel uncomfortable. But if we do cry, please be understanding. We will continue to cry.

The day I received the tragic news, I said in my pain and despair that if I had to choose my way in life all over again, I would choose the same road of Aliya and kibbutz. Thinking about what I will say at the ceremony marking 30 days since the burial, I realize more than ever before what a wonderful community we have built, a thing of beauty. Our kibbutz home evokes so much support, so much security.

...We weren't with Yaron enough, and we didn't give him all that we would have liked. That makes his departing harder on us. That is why it's so important for us to accumulate more and more stories about him, to add to the moments of grace which we remember ourselves. When anguish comes upon us, we can close our eyes and conjure up Yaron, trying to relive those seconds of warm, human contact. For both his family and his friends, Yaron was the great "hub", bonding everyone together. This evening, I would like to read some of the letters he wrote. I'm hoping that through them we can all lock in his memory so that it may give us strength during the hard times.

...Where did we go wrong? How is it that time and again the youth of our nation, even adults, are willing to lay down their lives in war or be wounded and live out their lives disabled - whereas between the wars, only a small few are willing to do something to prevent the next war?..."

July 20, 1982

The days go by and I'm writing less in my diary. Yesterday I listened to some tapes sent me by David Sherf. On them are the words of the parents of the two soldiers named Harel, may they rest in peace. I must make contact with the parents.

...Tzipi Peretz, who lost her son, Amotz, during the Yom Kippur War, gave us a few memorial albums for fallen soldiers so that we could get a better idea of how we wanted our album. All were touching, sad, and each one different. Chaimke, from Afek; Ron, from Genigar. I read them again and cried once more. For the meantime, we will continue to gather together everything that Yaron wrote and that was written to him. I will continue writing my diary, crying, trying to feel all the pain, wondering and inquiring and searching, and trying to make others a part of it all.

July 21, 1982

Ramah and I went to visit Yaron's grave. It is so hard for both of us to part from him when so many things between us were left undone, and it hurts so much.

July 22, 1982

David Sherf would like us to consider putting out a book which would relate to all the reconnaissance division troops who fell in this war. One of the things that Ya'akov Guterman said is that he's mainly concerned about those who haven't yet been drafted...I spoke about my idea of an "Organization of Bereaved Parents and Parents of Seriously Wounded Soldiers for Peace and Dialogue"... and of "No More War Memorials".

July 22, 1982

Following a visit to the Beaufort with the bereaved families and members of the reconnaissance unit.

...I didn't know how I would face the Beaufort, the place where Yaron laid in his final moments. Ramah took back a stone from there. My hurt aches, is broken.

July 23, 1982

Once again I write, in my diary and in letters to friends, and it's hard for me to choose the road I must travel.

What should I do now? Can I really change my ways? Am I really up to that task whose importance is unsurpassed, the task of creating a dialogue for peace between Jews and Arabs? Is it not naive even to dream about changing the attitudes of people so rooted in the belief that justice is on their side! Who am I to undertake something like this? What can one man do?

Nonetheless, every person does have a singular contribution to make -- the road I must travel is still unclear and I feel deeply frustrated because whatever I do that is not directly related to Yaron and his memory seems "improper". And yet, I can't do only that...

July 25, 1982

...This morning I arranged the planters around Yaron's grave. I took some plant shoots from our garden and, after mixing some fertilizer in the dirt, I planted and watered them. Now the area around the grave will look prettier, but Yaron will never be coming back. Not on Friday and not on Saturday, the Sabbath, and not during the middle of the week.

July 28, 1982

My son, Gilad, came from Kibbutz Eilon and together we went to the ceremony marking 30 days since Gal's burial. He told me about his friends at Eilon. And how important it is for him that the kibbutz children sleep in their parents' house, and not in the collective children's house, so that he could be with his kids more and raise them. I tried to convince him that it could be done, even on a kibbutz.

He talked about his life on Eilon. He's not a kibbutz member, but he has undertaken projects there that nobody hit on except for him. And he's always getting a lot of other young people involved.

July 29, 1982

We watched an 8 millimeter film that I made when Yaron was small. Tamar, David, and my granddaughter, Maude, were with us. What a pity I didn't take more pictures. What a pity that I took so many pictures of flowers instead of taking more pictures of our children.

I was some kind of optimist!...

August 1, 1982

Once more I listen to the songs Yaron loved.

Hanni, the kibbutz's archivist, gave us a binder neatly arranged with all the words said at the 30th day remembrance ceremony. I keep on trying to put in order all the letters we received. I'd like to gather together all the poems written for Yaron by friends and put them on the grave, so that all those coming to pay their respects could see; and I'd write a few words of my own, such as: "Thank you, friend, for coming to my son Yaron's grave...we come to remember and not to forget, to mourn for youth that is no longer. Perhaps after seeing Yaron's plot and those of others who weren't allowed to go on living, we will do something lest there be added more graves for our young and our sons."

Ramah persuaded me, however, that we had to allow everyone to find communion with Yaron in their own manner.

August 4, 1982

It was hard to fall asleep last night, and the heat wasn't the only reason. A lot of conversation went on yesterday, matters left unresolved, relationships left unclarified, and feelings left unexpressed. Above all, I feel helpless and unable to assist Ramah. It's so hard on Ramah, and I'm not always there for her, accepting her just as she is...

It's a good thing that Noah came by and helped us work through some of our difficulties, so we could look at the heart of the matter. I always feel guilty because Ramah seems to be expressing her grief and pain all the time, while I take refuge from them through my many activities.

We are fortunate that Noah is so wise, sensitive and experienced. But it is clear to me that it's up to us, me, to get through most of the hard work.

August 6, 1982

...Ever since the bloody battles in Beirut, I can't get a good night's sleep. Every hour, I dream, awake, and can't get back to sleep...

Ever since Yaron's death, my heart aches, both literally and figuratively.

August 8, 1982

We spoke a little with Naomi at the cemetery. She cries a great deal, whereas for me the tears have dried and only the burning pain remains. One of the things my daughter said is that when she's in Jerusalem, she's very concerned about us, hurt for us. But when she comes to visit, she sees that we are getting on well enough. When it was time for her to be going, it was very hard for all of us to say good-bye; it was one of the hardest moments we've gone through. I didn't know what to do, how to comprehend what had befallen us. It is important, nonetheless, that I not repress my memory of this moment so that I may relive what I felt there.

August 10, 1982

...I go on wondering and searching for a way to live with death after the death of my dear Yaron...if the meaning of the phrase "cannon fodder" was ever brought home to me, it was yesterday when I saw Ra'anan from Kibbutz Gazit, a member of the Golani division reconnaissance unit, who was wounded at Beirut Airport. I saw Ra'anan and touched him at the intensive care ward of Rambam Hospital. I realize that there have been much more serious cases. I also realize what happens to an eight story apartment building that's been hit by a "vacuum bomb" [a bomb that creates a powerful sucking force, thus causing a building's walls to collapse inward]. But Ra'anan is someone I know, he was Yaron's friend. I'm crushed.

...What do we want from our sons?

In retrospect, it's clear that in Ra'anan's case, too, it was a mistake to sit out in the open at the airport for "morning siesta", exposed, not taking cover. The people in charge--what could they have been thinking? That the PLO can't adjust and direct the fire of its Katyushas?

And that awful incident where the Air Force bombed our own convoy when the latter received an order to remove its red identity marker! And it turns out that the pilot has been placed in a mental health woman told me that one of her sons is unwilling to return to his unit since friendly fire killed and wounded so many of our own! How long can we go on like this?

Amram, from Kibbutz Gazit, another member of the crack reconnaissance unit, told me at Rambam Hospital that after he completes his army service, he plans on being a street youth counselor. He's convinced that the only way things will change is through a slow, on-going educational process. "Because right now things are pretty bad and they won't change, because there are parents willing to sacrifice their sons for another square yard of `Greater Israel'". It is all so sad it drives you to despair...

August 12, 1982

...The military liaison officer from the nearby town of Afula came by to deliver condolences from the reconnaissance unit. He wanted to know what he could do for us.

I asked him why no one had come in an official capacity to inform us of what had happened to Yaron, and I asked when we would know the results of the inquiry into the entire Beaufort operation. We asked him why the life insurance for a soldier provided by the Army is so very small.

...I felt chest pains this morning, near my heart. I asked the doctor to reexamine me. After doing an EKG, she set up an appointment with a cardiologist. I'm not sure why it comes and goes, and why sometimes, like in the last two days, it's been especially severe. I talked with the doctor about "heart ache", as if it were my body's way of not allowing me to forget Yaron's death...

August 17, 1982

...I took the day off from work and for the first time went to the darkroom to develop film and make prints for Yaron's memorial album. It's uncanny, but the pictures appeared within a black rim...actually, I recall that this paper had been slightly exposed...and yet...

I was astounded that I could work on Yaron's photographs in such an "objective" manner. I didn't think I the last two days the tears have stopped flowing...Noah said that I couldn't finish the mourning process until I had experienced despair and a feeling that everything lacks meaning.

Ramah made a remark that I'm no less sensitive than she, it's just that I don't show it. I don't know if she's right or not. I told her about the need I had, of constantly being made to "remember" by experiencing chest pains...I asked whether I might be able to cope better with my situation if I could interpret my dreams more accurately. Noah said it's possible, although it would be an arduous process, one in which she was not qualified to assist me.

August 19, 1982

I sit and listen to a Nina Simone album and cry as I read Ruvik Rosenthal's book, "Barbara -- What a Whore This War". Thinking about how much Yaron would have loved to be where I am. How happy he would have been about Naomi's trip to see her fiance, Sha'ul.

...I feel that the most important and perhaps the only thing you can do after the death of a loved-one is to be more human towards everyone and especially towards your family.

Days go by, and I try to find a reason and a way to carry on. Perhaps a delicate balance between despair and the need to go on?

I'm "sending out signals" to a lot of people and getting positive feedback from all of them. Am I capable of responding in kind?

August 23, 1982

...On Saturday night, Ruth dropped by; she's the mother of Nadav, may he rest in peace. We talked for hours. It was important for us, and I sense it was for her, too.

She told us about that moment when the head of the regional council and his deputy came to pay her a call. They came together, and she knew that something terrible had happened. Since that time, she hasn't turned on the radio, looked at a newspaper, or put on the television...

She asked me if being on a kibbutz didn't make it very hard on us, always being in the public eye, and with everyone there having known Yaron. In this respect, it's easier for her in her town of Tivon. Her house keeps her well insulated, and on the outside she has plenty of friends and people to help her.

...They didn't want to let her go see the site where Nadav had fallen. Only men are allowed...but on that very day women from the American United Jewish Appeal were brought there...She doesn't blame Defense Minister Sharon, his actions have been dictated by circumstance...she is completely sick and tired of Prime Minister Begin. However, after we told her about the media appearance the two had made at the Beaufort following the battle, she said she was willing to rethink her opinion [of Sharon]...She wrote Sharon a letter, expression appreciation for his letter of condolence...Where else does the Minister of Defense do something like that? But nevertheless, she wrote that Nadav did not give up his life; he had his life taken away...She, too, has complaints about what transpired and she voiced them to the battalion commander. She accused them of not taking the proper precautions. Raful [a nationally used nickname for then-Army Chief-of-Staff Rafael Eitan] was in the area and asserted that the Air Force had exterminated all enemy forces in the hills. They passed through a spot where they were right out in the open and it was there that a sniper hit him! (How similar this sounds to our claims with regard to the attack on the Beaufort). She asked if it really had been good for us to be at the site where Yaron was killed. Ramah and I said that it had been important.

August 23, 1982

Lunch-time, and I'm sitting at a table in the Kibbutz dining hall, not saying much, sitting and looking over at the tables where the young members are eating. And at the Kibbutz swimming pool, my head underwater, I think about Yaron for a long time; a sort of special day of being at one with him.

August 28, 1982

I told Noah of my feeling that I'm not experiencing enough pain over losing Yaron and of the distress this causes me. I told her of the tears which have stopped flowing...

I brought up the dream in which the clock loses its hands. She said that it's a subject which crops up amongst quite a few people who have lost their children. She also tried to temper somewhat the observations she'd made about the difficult period of mourning still before me. She feels that I'm somewhere in between the type who tries to ignore the whole thing and the ones who totally close themselves off. And in terms of how worried I am about Ramah, she maintains that, in spite of everything, Ramah is very, very strong.

September 2, 1982

My Dearest Yaron,
I feel like talking to you. I know that for several years now I have objected to those who eulogize the dead by speaking to them, but I'm not eulogizing, certainly not publicly. I just want to connect to you, to express the things that are weighing upon me.

Soon it will be September 6, three months since you climbed the Beaufort, willing to give it your all. More than 90 days have passed and not a day has gone by that we haven't thought about you, missed you, wanted you with us. And this morning, the tears came back to my eyes.
I'd like to understand how I have gotten to this point that I, at 61, go on living, while you, who never reached 22, were killed in what, I'm convinced, was an unnecessary war. More than 80 members of Kibbutz Ein-Dor went off to this war and you're the only one that didn't come back. Why?

I haven't written about you until now because I've simply been unable. It is hard for me today to sum up the 21 years and 8 months of your life. How could I not have known throughout the 260 months of your life; throughout the 7,800 days, in between wars -- how could I not have known to give you everything a father can give; to hear more of what you had to say; to try and understand what it's like to grow up in a country steeped in war.

September 5, 1982

...We went to visit Yaron's grave. We talked a little about what comes next and I tried to bring up my wish to grapple with the question of why our son, and kibbutz children in general, volunteer for the elite reconnaissance units who perform the most dangerous missions. I'd especially like to deal with the entire question of the identification with war ...and the Israeli Defense Forces.

Mostly, to try to understand our Yaron as much as possible. How did he reach this decision of his? With what attitude did he go off to war itself? Now that Yaron is gone, what must be learn for the days to come?

September 21, 1982

After the massacre in Sabra and Shatila.

It's astounding that what's out of sight is out of mind. Despite sitting and listening endlessly the last two days for details about the massacre in Beirut, and despite taking part in a demonstration of the Peace Now movement at Rosh Hanikra [the site of Israel's northwestern border with Lebanon], I can get up in the morning, go to work, take care of various matters, train a new worker...Only now, when I find the time to sit and write, does my mind's eye take me back to the horror seen on television, to the bodies lying mangled in the streets of West Beirut...What type of creature am I, an Israeli and a Jew who for 40 years lives from one catastrophe to the next? How many protective layers must be shielding us so that we may survive, so that we may preserve our sanity?

How can it be that those responsible (Begin, Sharon, and company) are incapable of feeling the terrible suffering. When I try and multiply by 300 (the number killed in the massacre) the suffering we experience from having Yaron taken from us, well, it simply boggles the mind.

September 24, 1982

We went to Tel Aviv for the Peace Now rally which brought 400,000 people. I took part with Annie and Ya'akov Guterman and stood with placards he'd prepared: "What Did My Son Die For?" A most powerful demonstration. A hope of changes to come?

October 19, 1982

Ruth L. from the town of Tivon told me about an acquaintance of hers who, following the death of her son, began dreaming nightly that her son was becoming younger and younger until he was in her womb and disappeared (into her) at which point she ceased to dream...(or remember). She herself is incapable of accepting letters from her son's girlfriend for she doesn't want a "different" Nadav from the one she has...I said to her that I hope there comes a day when she'll accept her son as he fully was and not just as he was for her...apparently, it will happen when the ratio overcomes the emotion, and there's no reason to be impatient and force things. She spoke of the "insignificance of the life of the individual" and I tried to persuade her of just the opposite, but within a few seconds, I caught myself. I remarked how different my "self-assured" manner was from the despair of two or three months back, as if time had nonetheless brought a change: It hadn't reduced the pain, but it had brought me to accept it as a central feature of a situation in which, despite the pain, we are called upon to fulfill our potential...

October 24, 1982

In another three days it would have been Yaron's 22nd birthday. I was thinking about the book "Number Our Days", by Barbara Myerhoff, where the old man, Jacob, plans for his birthday party to be the day of his death. He orders his friends in the old-age home in Venice, California, to go on celebrating his birthday together for another five years, at his expense...

I'd like to bring together everyone who held Yaron dear and celebrate his birthday and persuade them to act so that there will be an end to these senseless war. Am I wrong?

I dream of bandages soaked in Yaron's blood and I can't sleep. Various ideas come to mind of ways to pay honor to his memory:

  1. Starting tomorrow, joining the anti-war protestors demonstrating in front of the Knesset.
  2. Preparing my/our own personal placard: "Yaron, of Blessed Memory, was killed at the Beaufort. He didn't die so that Beirut could be occupied. He wished for peace."
  3. Asking my kibbutz to allow me time to go and record this demonstration and all those to follow, through photograph and videotape, and to interview many of those who took part in this Lebanon War and their parents, as well as the bereaved parents and families.
  4. Drafting a letter to Begin and his cabinet which I'd be willing to read aloud there.

November 1, 1982

In "Between Right and Right", A.B. Yehoshua writes in his last chapter about death that there is a danger that the impact of our sons' deaths in war will be worn away. Even back in the War of Attrition (the static artillery war waged between the Egyptian and Israeli armies following the Six-Day War, between 1967-1970), pictures of the fallen soldiers began, in time, to disappear from the front page of the newspapers, and reports became fewer and fewer...Eli Geva (a maverick brigade commander who resigned his post rather than command his unit in the controversial artillery shelling of populated West Beirut) came to visit a week ago and maintains that he's extremely worried about the desanctification of human life which is taking hold...and so, it seems to me that every effort must be made to give meaning to the views of each young man who has fallen, to an entire world severed before its time and for no good reason in this long war. Some of the ways to do so are through a memorial album or a book and through photographs, so that it may be accessible to others. If a composer or a group of composers were to write music to the words written by the young men who fell in this war, maybe that would penetrate the national consciousness? And that of our youth?

I hear that Dan Ben-Amotz has just covered the walls of his home with pictures of those who fell in the Lebanon War. He says that until now he had stayed clear of political issues, but that today he can no longer do so. He doesn't want to forget, even for one day, the price being paid. There's something to be learned from him here.

November 8, 1982

It's been several days and nights now that I've spent with Yaron, through the letters he sent and received. And now, having put the letters in chronological order, mostly pairing answers to questions asked and showing the formation and growth of his interrelationships, I thank Yaron again and again for keeping these them.

What is revealed anew is a youth alive and effervescent. The great connecting hub of the family, the devoted reporter to his brother, Gilad, abroad, the correspondent with Yaniv, his good friend in the Argentinian Diaspora (for Jews, the entire world outside of the homeland in Israel); and there are three wonderful chapters where connections and relationships take shape with Hannahle from Kibbutz Hatzor, Idit from Kibbutz Yasur, and also a year, most intensive but too brief, of bonds growing stronger with Ya'el from Kibbutz Gazit. Until his death, Yaniv was her boyfriend, and it was his image which both bound them together and, in the end, kept them apart.

So many yearnings he expresses in these letters, for his big brother so far away and so beloved though he barely knew him. So much involvement with his group, in the kibbutz's high school (known as "the institute", kibbutz high school is a boarding school fully integrating educational and after-school activities), and in the army. Always so serious with concern. So much yearning for a more meaningful bond with a girlfriend, searching and experimenting.

I spend numerous hours with these letters and copy them out by hand, as if by some miracle would, the writing out his words would bring him back to life, or at least succeed in bringing back to life those moments when he wrote these things down. What a sad feeling of joy. I ponder about all those people who weren't left such a treasure in writing...A.B. Yehoshua wrote about a bereaved father who put out a memorial album containing his son's math assignments because that's all the young man left behind!

I'd like to include the rest of the family in this process, Ramah, Gilad, Tamar, and others, but I'm afraid it would cause them pain. Ramah says she can't grasp where I draw the emotional strength to go on with this. Why, I draw it from Yaron's words.

And what shall I do with this small treasure, this account of his life? Perhaps I exaggerate their objective value. But isn't the story of Yaron and Yael building a relationship after Yaniv's death so sad yet so brimming with respect for these young people. A story of tenderness and love.
And the story of the relationship he and Idit built during their first two years of army service is not only Yaron's story. It's also the story of a young woman training men for service in the Armored Corps, mixed together with the blossoming and withering of a love story. And also the youthful innocence, the humor, the wisdom, and the sincerity with which he shares Hannahle's inner world in their high school years -- they make for such beautiful stories. What was it that Hannahle wrote him: "Shouldn't we fear the very encounter...lest we be different from what we expected?" I continue to read and copy.

I'll go on reading and pondering, and for now, my dear Yaron, thank you once again.

November 21, 1982

We went to the cemetery on a sad and rainy day. Ramah told me that several days ago she'd seen Avi R. and for a moment...mistook him for Yaron.

...I worked a little while in the garden. Perhaps we'll plant some chrysanthemums. And a think about what I'm doing somewhat guiltily, because I'm only hoeing my private garden and not the kibbutz garden...How can I be capable to tending to flowers and a garden now that Yaron is gone. I'm amazed by all the people who can write entire articles for public consumption, whereas my fear of public exposure grows and grows...

November 24, 1982

...Naomi Tsur from the town of Tivon told me that she could never go skiing on Mount Hermon, more than 50 of our soldiers having been killed there in the Yom Kippur War. On the white snow she sees blood. At the time of the disaster in Tyre, Lebanon [in which an explosion completely leveled a building serving as an Israeli Army command post, causing scores of dead and wounded], she couldn't shut her eyes all night. She hoped and she prayed, knowing that it couldn't help, but she hoped that if she would suffer, even from a distance...the rescue team would reach another person buried and pressed down under the rubble...

A few days ago she reached the conclusion that the wars would not cease until we had let the Palestinians set up a state of the own with Jordan. When she related this to her husband, Benny, he replied that because of the settlements in the occupied territories, it was just too late now. Today 25,000 [settlers] and soon 100,000 and they won't be moved. Naomi responded that if that's true, then she doesn't know by what right she can raise sons here, sons who'll go off again and again to war.

December 12, 1982

...Lately, every single thing reminds me of Yaron, who is no longer with us -- especially the joyous moments.

January 3, 1983

Last night, Mona and David Sherf paid us a visit. We discussed the pain we all share and talked about the latest letter they'd written to the press, coming in the wake of Begin's silence and relating to the general state of affairs in the country.

...One of the most difficult moments came when Mona expressed the guilt she felt over Avikam's death. For, had they stayed in Australia continuing their work as emissaries for the Zionist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement [the youth movement affiliated to the kibbutz federation of which Ein-Dor is a member], none of this would have occurred. She compared it to the feeling which Raya had told them that Goni had after his father was killed coming back on the motorcycle on which he had taken him to an activity of the Scouts. So sad and hard.

January 23, 1983

...This afternoon we saw the movie Doctor Zhivago. In the morning, at Yaron's grave-side, Ramah had already begun to cry, and she had an extremely rough day. She said after the movie: "What a vile world of unending war and killing and suffering." The scene in which the Red partisans "cut down" the young White cadets in the wheat field, and you see their young bodies and faces, was just too much for both of us, it seems. For some reason, I didn't let her know that I had cried inside -- for Yaron and for the far-distant days when we had read the book and held illusions of a world in which we'd build a brand-new society, a world with no more wars. How positive we were that we could be masters of our own destiny, even within the cruel world which surrounded us. Perhaps the very act of freely choosing to make Aliya and live on kibbutz, precisely against the backdrop of the cruelty which existed in the world of the 1930's through the mid-1940's, was what fortified our hope and faith. And now look, Yaron has been killed by those who perpetuate the state of war with our neighbors.

February 6, 1983

The ache in my heart, which comes and goes, is a little better today.

I spoke on the phone with Naomi Tsur. The letters and photographs I sent her brought her much pain. She'd be very happy to go with me, at the request of Avital Geva of Kibbutz Ein Shemer, and take pictures in the West Bank. She'll also help me prepare an exhibition focusing on the kibbutz. She showed my placard, "A Homeland is not an Altar", to her daughter, Sigal, and her friends serving in the army. They said that I must not publicly display it to the soldiers. The harshness of the picture of my and Ramah's shadows on Yaron's grave is too much for her, even the flowers draped in shadow...

I continue to wonder just how much I should involve my friends in my sorrow and fury -- while I go on doing it.

February 14, 1983

Madness! The murder of Emil Grunzweig [a member of the Peace Now movement, killed at a stormy demonstration in Jerusalem by a hand-grenade tossed into the crowd] was "born and raised" in the hundreds of demonstrations in which the police allowed hooligans to use force. We learned this from our own personal experience, at the very site of the murder, when, on June 29, 1982, a throng of Likud supporters wrecked and destroyed the entire protest vigil set up across from the Prime Minister's office.

In an interview in the leftist Al HaMishmar newspaper, Professor [Yeshayahu] Leibowitz asserted that the root of all evil was the seventh day of the Six-Day War, the day after, when the government and the people decided to be conquerors and turn a defensive war into one of conquest. Since then, we've "reaped the benefits" of ruling over another people, one harboring aspirations and rights similar to our own. And the solution today, according to Professor Leibowitz: American intervention will remove us from the occupied territories, just as was done in Germany, thus preventing, for the meantime, a World War Three. And should this not occur, there will be utter destruction from without and within. As he views it, there should be a "rebellion" of 4,000 armed Israeli Defense Force soldiers, who'll organize themselves to not agree to serve in the occupied territories or in Lebanon.

...What has become of us?

February 19, 1983

Naomi Tsur told me what a friend of her daughter, a soldier, had said to her:

"If he were the mother of a soldier today, he'd organize as many mothers as he could and would form a human chain along the borders and not let the tanks go through!"

February 20, 1983

I can't sleep. Thinking over what I'll be able to say within three minutes about our Yaron over the "Kol Yisrael" [the "Voice of Israel",the national radio service] microphone, so that it will touch all the people in this country. Before we went to sleep, Ramah said: "Just say how much we loved him." I don't want to say that Yaron was a hero. I don't want to say that others should follow in his footsteps. I want to say things which will touch the hearts of the listening audience, so that they'll know the awful price we paid in this war. I don't know how I'll do it.

Shall I say: Yaron was a regular guy. Why, just saying that Yaron was is enough to throw me from my moorings. Or perhaps: Yaron was a child of our later years -- 21 years old and nobody doubted that he should have had to bury his parents, and here I am, his 61 year-old father having to tell about him. Or maybe: Yaron was a young man full of contradictions. He was a champ at making up names for others, but he had some nicknames himself. In the army, they called him "Walnut", hard on the outside and soft on the inside. That's how he was, much more muscular than he was flexible. He loved coming home, lying down on the bed, and he'd ask me to give him a massage -- to relieve a little of the physical strain and emotional stress.

A new variation on the theme of the Sabra --"Prickly on the outside, juicy on the inside". It came out in his letters and poems. He really loved writing. From the moment he learned to form words into sentences, he was writing letters, and compositions, and poems. He really enjoyed all kinds of sports, but especially liked basketball. He wasn't a shining star, and his conscience pressed him into always being ready to help out in every endeavor, including sports, where he always lent a hand in all the activities associated with the game; and he loved winning, willing to work hard at honing his skills -- in sports, at backgammon, and, but not always, in school.

Yaron was just starting out in life and had most of his plans before him. He was constantly and tenaciously looking for a girlfriend which he hadn't yet found. He wrote a lot and he had a lot left to learn about doing so more profoundly. He loved reading and went through a book a week, even during his army service. He loved getting attention and in a group setting was willing to go wild and make everyone laugh in order to get it. He loved his brother and his two sisters, but didn't have the chance to get to know them as an adult, nor were we, his parents, afforded this satisfaction. How could we have?

He loved to eat, but for a number of years was a vegetarian. And he placed great importance not only on what he ate, but how he ate. And his plate was always arranged aesthetically...

He liked to dress stylishly, he had good taste. He was orderly to an extreme, as if he knew that you always had to be prepared. He just had to make it into one of the elite reconnaissance units, for Ein-Dor could almost "claim title" to the Golani division reconnaissance: It had become a tradition over several years that many graduates of the kibbutz "Tavor" High School would do their service there. He didn't get into the other reconnaissance units because of back problems...He went to the Golani division and there, because of his excellence in sports and his high degree of selflessness, he won the privilege, several weeks into his conscripted service, of being sent to elite reconnaissance. But his back didn't hold up under the strain to which his squad was subjected, so he was trained for communications and became the reconnaissance N.C.O. in charge of communications. To this day, we don't know how he made it to the top of the Beaufort. I guess he couldn't give up the opportunity and challenge for which he and the rest of the guys had been preparing all along. Not to mention that his favorite commander, Goni, had returned to command the operation. Yaron could keep a secret and we didn't know a thing about the reconnaissance unit activities and it goes without saying that we didn't know a thing about the preparations for the taking of the Beaufort.

He had a great memory although he didn't always use it for "important" reasons, like school. He was a walking encyclopedia of sports, sports stars, and their records. Yaron loved music, any music, but especially rock, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and many singers and bands with which we weren't familiar. [In Israeli music,] he really liked Matti Caspi and the Breira Tivit group...and he really loved to dance...and sing.

He loved life and dreamed of completing his army service and going travelling throughout the world, meeting up with other ways of living so that he could come back, build a life and raise a family here, in Israel.

And he loved loving...and living...and yet, more than any other of our children, he was a child of war. And it's quite amazing how, engulfed by war and death, Yaron developed into someone so full of life and effervescent.

In his childhood and adolescence, he loved to draw and his sense of humor came out in his drawings. And in the same way that he made up names for his friends, he also gave names to some of his pictures. Try to envisage a picture called, "Maybe"...And whoever hears about Yaron, born in Israel towards the end of 1960, should do a little arithmetic in order to realize how we raised that year's babies. I would only have to note that in the first grade, he lived through the Six-Day War; he experienced the War of Attrition until the age of 13; he "celebrated" his Bar-Mitzvah via the Yom Kippur War; when he reached 18, he was "met" by the Litani Operation [following the massacre of a bus load of Israeli civilians near Tel Aviv, the Israeli Army invaded Southern Lebanon to destroy terrorist infrastructure, ending its advance at the Litani River]; and at 21, the indisputable age of legal majority anywhere, he came upon the War of Lebanon and from this one he wasn't coming back. And in each one of these wars, he experienced the death of young men and adult members who had belonged to our kibbutz community. And this is the manner in which he grew up and developed, just like thousands of other young people in our land, a land to which we had returned in the hope of finding peace and security.

Is it any wonder that Yaron read a lot of suspense novels and books on war? Is it any wonder that he admired heroism, as one of his friends had told us. Is it any wonder that he was going to give it his all to get into the elite reconnaissance...and to the summit of the Beaufort where his "all" meant his life. But it really is a wonder, for in the same year, other boys were born in his kibbutz age-group and they didn't have to "give it their all" to get into elite reconnaissance. In other words, at some juncture we, the parents, brought it about. Why? How? Did I make him love this stretch of land, by endlessly hiking with him throughout his childhood days to every hill and wadi [i.e., dry gulch] in the region? And maybe deep in his soul were engraved the words of songs which I would sing to him when he was a boy: "Lay down, my son, lay down and rest", "a little boy was given to me", "the shadows have gone", "a charming boy at dawn arises".

March 2, 1983

...Last night in our apartment, following the discussions that they young people had held on Saturday, Ramah and Tamar's husband, David, argued about serving in Lebanon. David is extremely pacifist in his approach. Ramah pointed out how important it was for us to be within the inner circle of the army lest it become dominated by elements of the super-nationalist right wing. Had the majority of the war commanders in the Beirut area been right-wing officers, it would have been a lot worse. Our young people decided against refusing to serve in Lebanon, and in favor of writing a letter, signed by all those in agreement, demanding that we immediately get out of Lebanon and requesting not to serve in Lebanon. It's such a complex issue. Shai, who is medically unfit for a combat role, made it a point yesterday to attest that if he had to go to Lebanon he wouldn't refuse, but he'd give prior notice that he wouldn't take up a weapon. It's easy to reach decisions when you don't serve. But it's very hard for someone who's spent years with his buddies in a combat unit. Arieh Ya'ari argues that the question of ours being a democratic regime isn't relevant because the Likud and its partners exploited the democratic system and told the nation bold-faced lies. Thus, opposition to the war is legitimate. Nevertheless, he is aware of the danger that we may become alienated and detached from the rest of the nation. The problem is one of quantity: How do we get as many signatures as possible from the people who are in agreement with us...

March 19, 1983

...Perhaps my "suffering" in preparing the memorial album is a small part of the payment I must make for the loss of my son, Yaron. I say "payment", because no matter how I slice it, I brought him into this world, and I take full responsibility for the deeds he did and the road he chose until the very end! I can't even speak the words that Rayah wrote us on March 6, 1983, that awful date, nine months to the day on which they fell. "Nine months pregnant with death!" What an excruciating image. She wrote that she feels as if someone had been laying in wait for Goni for 8 years and that they got him at the very last minute. This is not something I can say about Yaron. He had set out his personal agenda. Of course, someone was there to see to it that a cruel and senseless war should arise, a war which continues to claim its due.

March 22, 1983


The terrible sadness that hits us the minute we cease taking action.

Our conscience cries out, how come we have the right to go on living while our boy, with his whole life ahead of him, was killed in a war which we certainly didn't need

All that we lived for was a life of respect for our fellow men and women; the frustration and grief when it is shattered.

March 24, 1983

The time has come for the kibbutz to hold a discussion about the way in which we preserve the memory of our sons and friends who have died. I'm positive that we need to differentiate the war dead from the rest. Perhaps it's something I didn't comprehend before Yaron died, but now it is my unequivocal wish that the price of war not be forgotten.

My handwriting is becoming illegible and I know that I'm unquiet and that it comes out in my penmanship. How shall I be "quiet" now? Because first of all, I'm enraged by the fact that the soldiers who fell in battle are being forgotten. Last night, when I asked Ra'anan why he, a wounded soldier, doesn't raise a yell, he replied: "The healthy soldiers who got out of the war intact, let them go raise a yell...".

Whenever I open the window and take in the array of color of the anemones in my garden and the scenic view of nearby Mt. Tavor, turning green in a blaze of spring color, it just seems unfair...We're surrounded by love, consideration, sympathy, and compassion.

March 25, 1983

I once believed that if a person could indeed control his handwriting, he could also control his feelings. Who in the world wants to control their feelings? That's the last thing I need, to not be able to give vent to my emotions...

April 10, 1983

Two hours ago, we returned from a gathering of the Beaufort families [the families of those killed at the assault on the Beaufort] at Kibbutz Beit Zera. For all of us, it was a day which ranked extremely high in importance. Perhaps, from this gathering, we have drawn strength for the days ahead, for the days of remembrance of all kinds, and for coping with life after the death of our loved-ones.

We tried to have a group discussion about two issues:

  1. The "Peace for Galilee" decoration [the war medal given out to all who served during the Lebanon War]. Should we send it back? If so, in what manner -- as a group or each one separately?
  2. A joint project for perpetuating the memory of our sons: An anti-war anthology in memory of those who fell in the Golani division reconnaissance or in memory of all those who fell in the Lebanon War? We tried to comprehend what draws us together: Could it be that we're sort of continuing the bonding experienced by our sons? Or maybe it is only when we're together that we let ourselves be ourselves, and not hold back.

April 19, 1983

Independence Day Eve. [Israeli Independence Day begins in the evening just as the Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers comes to an end. The coupling is intentional and designed as a reminder of the soldiers' sacrifice in maintaining Israel's sovereignty.

We've run out of strength. We stayed at home. We went to sleep sad and exhausted. Ramah took initiative in the morning and we went out to visit our new family, the Beaufort family, paying a call on Fania and Avraham in Kfar Tavor. Avraham told us of how deeply he'd been hurt by the people of his very own town, mentioning this several times. Not one of the townspeople had been killed in Israel's wars in the 80 years the town had existed and they didn't know how to act...

Avraham took me to the front porch to show me where he sits every evening; legs up on the railing, cup of coffee alongside, he looks over at Ein-Dor, at our house, second from the end, and thinks about our new extended family, about the boys not given the chance to live on...Fania took us to Yossi's room which had been left as it was, everything in its place. The rug always had to be placed in a very particular spot, just like Yaron. And the records. She would get it from him but good if she moved anything while cleaning.

Friday, June 2, 1983

Time hurries on. It's coming up on a year since Yaron's death. There's never a moment of rest, and tears drench my eyes. I sit in my regular spot in the dining hall and run home before I burst out crying. Today's Friday. One year ago today, I didn't even see Yaron when he dropped by to pick up some clothing and the poem he'd written for Goni; only Ramah saw him for a couple of minutes.

And today he won't be coming! This whole year I've known that he won't be coming. Still, as we are reminded by everything all around us of just how pointless this awful war was, it's started to get harder on me.

Only sadness, that doesn't let even anger come to the surface; so long as I don't descend into depression, lest, God forbid, there be one less person in this country fighting for its humane character! Those for whom land is more important than humanity must not be allowed to exploit the weakness engendered by bereavement.

I tried to be active this year, but now I feel that it's becoming hard!

The war is being brought up in the papers, on radio and on television and the impact is overwhelming in power, every minute repeating its cry: There was no need for your Yaron to be killed! Nor his comrades at the Beaufort, nor all the hundreds who were killed.

...And I continue to wonder. Will I have the strength to get up and speak at my son Yaron's grave?

To say the things I think and feel?

How do you find the words to rationally and wisely express the burning pain, the feeling of hurt, the sorrow at the loss of my son's life, and the true sadness I feel from up close over the deaths of Raz, Yossi, Goni, Gil, and Avikam. I hardly knew them, really.

But it's legitimate and important to talk about them. Because I've gotten to know they're families. And as the love and friendship between us grows, the profound sorrow becomes ever prolonged, together with the rage, the frustration, and the desire to do something so that there may never again be such an accursed war as this. And knowing how small we are, how minute is our power.

Some musings, as the day marking one year approaches.

Religious Jews say in prayer that "God is Full of Mercy". What kind of merciful God would sacrifice our sons up to Moloch? I wish that we could hold a discussion. I wish that I could get feedback on my words and deeds. But I know how hard it is to talk about this issue.

Please send comments or questions to Yehoshua Zamir

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