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  Dan Leon

  Ramah & Yehoshua Zamir

  4.1 Early Childhood
  4.2 School Days
  4.3 Army Days





The story of Yaron Zamir, the son of American born parents who were among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Dor in Israel's Jezreel valley, has a double significance. Born in the kibbutz in 1960, Yaron was one of the first Israeli soldiers to fall in June 1982 in the Lebanese war.  Above everything else, this was first and foremost a personal tragedy for his parents and for his brother and sisters and family. It was also a blow for the soldiers with whom he served and for his many friends, mostly from his own and other kibbutzim.

But the untimely death of this twenty-one year old, who left behind him a literary legacy unusual in its scope and often almost uncanny in its insights, carries a message over and above that to be found so painfully on the personal-family plane. For Yaron's is the tale of a generation. This, a highly personal record written in his own words and in those of his peers, reflects with a simple authenticity which has few parallels in similar literature - how the members of this generation in Israel's kibbutzim were brought up from early childhood, what they believed, how they behaved, to what they aspired and how they related to each other.

Since this is a story built exclusively from letters, diaries and Yaron's own writings in prose and verse, it is completely devoid of propaganda, just as it contains no sociological jargon and no indoctrination.  This is the unembellished reality of the life and death of a kibbutz youngster.

Yet there is a message here - one so powerful that it is sometimes almost unbearable in its poignancy. One will search in vain here for a crystallized ideology but if one looks for values and a vision, it is here from Yaron's childish wish: 'If I had a magician's hat, I would ask for peace' and up to the writings of his last months of life.

It is unavoidable at this stage to note that Yaron, an Israeli who believed with all his heart in peace and humanism, fell in an unjust war which lacked military, political or moral justification. Had he lived, all the indications are that Yaron, like so many of those who fought with him, and like his own parents, would have opposed the war. Among those of us who mourn for Yaron and others like him who fell in Lebanon, this is one of the cruellest aspects of these human tragedies, each of which is a world of its own.

Here Yaron, who was so much of an individual, spoke eloquently for himself but not only for himself.  At the age of fourteen, he started
his poem 'Lines' with the words:

I saw lines
Red lines
Red lines of blood.

At the age of eighteen he was writing a 'song of protest' on 'a world of hate and skies of unrest' which ended with the words: 'And cry out to the world: enough of killing!' And some six months before he fell in action, he wrote:

I don't want to close my eyes-I want light
Want life, will morning come again?

Yaron's story is above all that of an individual, of a person, and not of a public figure or leader in the usual sense of the word. Yet it is at one and the same time that of a young man of his times, rooted in the Israeli and kibbutz reality who is saying something universal, addressing lovers of peace and justice wherever they may be.

The Jewish sages teach us that 'he who sows in tears will reap in joy'. A fount of tears surrounds this, the story of Yaron. Only time will tell whether what he sowed will indeed be reaped by those who come after him in the joy to which he aspired and which fate so harshly denied him.


Next page:  Notes

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