Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Survivors

Here's a paragraph from the introduction to Right to Exist:

From 1975 I spent three years in the armored corps. The army I was in was still reeling from the ferocity of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which people I knew had been killed; we spent most of our time in the Sinai desert, training to stop and rout another Egyptian attack, should it come. To listen to Israel’s critics today, we were already a decade into the brutal occupation of the Palestinians, but neither I nor anyone I knew had any military encounters with occupied Palestinians. We served on the borders, and faced Arab armies, or Palestinian forces in Lebanon; the Palestinians under our occupation went to work in Israel, and while undoubtedly intensely disliking us, they did very little that called for brutal oppression. On vacations we would roam freely wherever we wished, at times taking Palestinian buses between Palestinian towns. One image stands out: eight or nine of us standing in a Palestinian town, and Avi Greenwald cracking jokes in Yiddish, to the tremendous amusement of the young Palestinians grouped around us. Avi was killed a few years later, fighting the Syrians; I have no doubt that some of those young Palestinians were later killed fighting us. That simple scene is hard to conceive of today.

Avi was killed in June 1982. His widowed wife was pregnant at the time, and when his son was born she named him Avichai - "my father lives". Over the next few years eight children were named after Avi, a sign of how much he was missed.

In 2002 many of us convened to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. Dudi, the organizer of the evening, brought his daughter Avia to hear about the man she was named after. I can't say if this was the moment Avia and Avichai found each other, as the legends say, or if they'd already noticed each other earlier, but not long afterwards they married.

This morning at synagogue Eliezer, Avi's father, a Holocaust survivor and lone member of his family still alive in 1945, celebrated the birth of Avichai's third child, Eliezer's third great-grandchild. Avi, were he alive, would have been celebrating the birth of his third grandson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


The story is alive!

And, it's good to know that there was a time, after the 1973 war, where Israel,under Golda's leadership, was definitely NOT preprared!

So, lessons are learned.

We don't just "learn" from success. If anything, we do most of our learning from those experiences that come with terrible price tags, attached.

By the way, imbedded here? Your average arab is a victim. Any initiative got traded away by the despots.

And, then you have to wonder, do they even remember? Since someone sold the arabs this hateful piece of goods.

That's why, in Berlin, when an attempt was made to "show hitler in an exhibit," his head didn't last ON all that long. What happened, turns out, was the reaction of a German. A man who wasn't willing to commemorate hitler; even when shown in the bunker. And, the ruin, to germany, was then also known.

How long before the arab villages in the West Bank know the opportunities they missed? Well, Israeli kids no longer use their buses. And, tourists no longer come, either. WHile arafat is buried in a parking lot.