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To secular Zionists, then and since, it was the voice of a Jewish fanatic crying in the wilderness. But Porat, who became the chief spokesman for Gush Emunim and then its recognized leader, lobbied the government relentlessly to authorize settlement expansion. In 1975, after the army had repeatedly stymied persistent settlement attempts, Sebastia finally became the vanguard of Jewish settlement in Samaria.
An iconic photo of the triumphant moment when the government finally yielded to unrelenting Gush Emunim determination shows Porat, eyes closed and arms spread wide in victory, on the shoulders of his ecstatic followers who were singing and dancing around their leader. With his fusion of Jewish and Zionist passion, Porat had found the way to revitalize a moribund Zionist movement by returning Jews to their ancient homeland. Gush Emunim settlements, he believed, fulfilled Jeremiah’s ancient prophecy: “The children will return to their borders.”
If Gush Emunim represented “the true spirit of awakening,” as Porat believed, it was his leadership that propelled the settlement movement into the forefront of Israeli politics. After the peace treaty with Egypt, which called for Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank, he joined the new right-wing Tehiya party and became the settlers’ representative in the Knesset. Resigning after three years he was reelected in 1988 as a member of the National Religious Party. Porat defended the cause of religious Zionism in the Knesset for eleven more years.
Flourishing Jewish communities in Samaria – Ariel, Ofra, Kedumim, Itamar, and dozens of others – bear witness to Hanan Porat’s Zionist vision and his unrelenting determination for Jews to settle the Land of Israel. Even in his final months, when he was wracked by cancer, Porat’s Zionist passion remained undiminished and palpable.
Honored at a gathering of his friends and admirers not long before his death, it was evident that Porat still retained their loving admiration and abiding respect. For one final time, as they had done as young men with a burning vision back in 1975, they danced around their revered leader, who gently swayed with them inside their innermost circle.
Hanan Porat, father of ten children, died in his Gush Etzion home on October 3, the day after Rosh Hashanah. At his funeral Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “You were a man whose soul was filled with a great overwhelming love for the nation, its land and its Bible.” It was a fitting tribute to the rabbi and soldier, Jew and Zionist, visionary and leader, whose life exemplified the primal experiences of the Jewish people: exile and return.
When it came time in 1967 for the children of Israel to return to their borders, Hanan Porat knew that “everyone who takes part will be blessed.” Zichrono L’verachah.
Jerold S. Auerbach is professor emeritus of history at Wellesley College. His blog is www.jacobsvoice.tumblr.com.
About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.
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Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.
But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.
If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.
Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.
One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.
While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.
We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .
Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.
The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?
The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.
There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”
Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.
Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.
During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
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