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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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The Most Beautiful Picture of Israelis Ever Shot

The Most Beautiful Picture of Israelis Ever Shot

The two men in this picture are Chief of Operations for the Southern Front Yitzhak Rabin and Southern Front Commander Yigal Allon, in 1949. It’s a cold day somewhere on the dunes east or south of Gaza. Neither man has slept much, which is evident from Rabin’s messy hair.

Alon, four years older and considered deeper than his lieutenant, is looking at Rabin with a kind of fatherly gaze. The burden of war, the weariness of daily engagements, are evident in their posture. Neither one looks particularly happy or even content.

But it’s a beautiful picture in my eyes, because it depicts a moment so suffused with potential in our history. There’s the thinker, Alon, and Rabin, an anti-intellectual if ever there was one, and at that frozen moment in time you can’t yet tell that all their efforts to lead the Jewish experience in the Land of Israel to a benign, normal, familiar, civilized conclusion would crash, one after the other, against the harsh realities of the Middle East.

Neither one of them was a fool, neither one was kidding himself that our neighbors are bursting with joy at the idea of accepting, much less embracing us into their midst. Both died having done everything humanly possible, including countless times putting their lives on the line, seeking that acceptance.

There is beauty in failure. It is quiet, hidden, humble. The beauty of two young men in the middle of a battle outside Gaza, hair blowing in the wind, eyes red from lack of sleep, daring to hope.

The boys and girls of my generation have grown up with that image emblazoned in our retinas as the best that an Israeli person could be.

I’m glad that phase is over. I’m looking forward to images of new, beautiful Israelis, like the famous young paratrooper at the Kotel in 1967. Or, better yet, a young windsurfer at the Olympic games. I’m totally open to suggestions.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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11 Responses to “The Most Beautiful Picture of Israelis Ever Shot”

  1. Doug Kraft says:

    Great picture. A single moment of infinint poignance.

  2. Eli E Cohen says:

    My old pal Yori, how are you? It's been many years since our time on eretz hatzvi! This is a very nice piece of reminiscing! Be well and get in touch!

  3. Stephen Leavitt says:

    My wife's uncle is in the 1967 Kotel picture, you can see him standing behind the three in front of him.

  4. A very moving portrayal. Thank you for this, Yori.

  5. Rubin Katz says:

    This photo was taken during operation 'Horev' the winter campaign in the south. My elder brother was in the 5th reg of the Harel brigade under Rabin. This was after the costly battles of Kastel, Latrun and the Jerusalem corridor. My brother Avram had survived the camps. Many survivors fell in the battles to relieve Jerusalem. They charged up the slopes of the Taggart fortress of Latrun and fell with the cries on their lips: Never Again! You may read about it in my wartime memoir 'Gone to Pitchipoi' available on Amazon.com.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Todah raba for the foto, but even better are your commentaries in regard to it. And you are so right—–an image like this and what it stands for is immensely more beautiful, in my eyes anyway, than any foto of any sexy and chic ISRAELI girl that passes for what many consider "beautiful" these days.

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