web analytics
August 27, 2015 / 12 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


A Tale Of Love In The Face Of Darkness: Speaking with Yossi Klein Halevi

Photo courtesy of Ilir Bajraktari/The Tower

Photo courtesy of Ilir Bajraktari/The Tower

Within days of Israeli settlers establishing an outpost on the hillside of Sebastia in the fall of 1975, as recalled by Yossi Klein Halevi in Like Dreamers, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin consulted Mordechai Gur, then chief of the general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, about the efficacy of utilizing the military to carry out the government’s policy of opposing settlement in Judea and Samaria. Although he was already a legend in the annals of Jewish history, Gur did not have the conventional appearance of a modern Jewish military hero, and with his sweet face and less than imposing stature, he was better known by his Yiddishized nickname, Motta.

Always temperate, Gur, whose loyalty to the will of the civilian government rested at the heart of the state’s democracy, explained to Rabin that the military was not designed to be an instrument for setting social policy and that other avenues should be considered. Rabin pressed further, but Gur remained resolutely opposed to sending in the military, finally telling Rabin that these men, the leaders of the conclave at Sebastia, are “my soldiers.”

As the leader of the IDF’s 55th reserve paratroop brigade, the unit that served at the vanguard of both the Battle of Jerusalem in 1967 and the Battle of Suez in 1973, Gur was fortunate to be in command of some of the army’s finest soldiers. They were a diverse and exceptionally gifted group of men, and as leaders in their own right, many would emerge from their military experiences to spearhead some of the country’s most influential and varied social and political movements. In particular, as founders of both the left-wing Peace Now movement and the right-wing settler movement, the men of the 55th brigade, “Motta’s Men,” spent the majority of their lives outside the context of the army – as ardent rivals. Gur, however, was the ideal leader for such a group. Deeply humble and appreciative for the service of every single one of his men, Gur was able to sublimate his own views in order to best serve every soldier under his command. This not only enabled Gur to bring out the best in his soldiers, it also reinforced a nearly universal sentiment throughout the 55th’s ranks that encouraged diversity of opinion while simultaneously strengthening the brotherhood and camaraderie between the soldiers.

I recently sat down to speak with Yossi Klein Halevi about the genesis of his highly acclaimed book, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, and his personal connection to the history of the land.

In the summer of 1967, Halevi, now a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, made his first trip to Israel at “the height of the country’s unity,” in the wake of the Six-Day War. For Halevi, however, the soldiers of the 55th were not only at the forefront of national triumph, but also became the flesh and blood manifestation of his love for the country and his desire to make the Land of Israel his home.

His love for the men of the 55th ultimately led to Halevi’s aliyah in August 1982. By then, the national unity that pervaded every aspect of Halevi’s first trip to Israel had morphed into extreme divisiveness and bitter antipathy. In less than two decades, Israel’s polity had become sharply divided and constantly on the brink of extreme civil unrest. Worst of all for Halevi was that the men of the 55th, “the guys who brought me to Israel and gave me the Israel that I fell in love with,” now stood at opposite ends of this seemingly unbridgeable chasm. At first, it seemed that he would have to pick a side but, like Gur, the men of the 55th were Halevi’s heroes and he could not choose between them.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Tale Of Love In The Face Of Darkness: Speaking with Yossi Klein Halevi”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Donald Trump, running to be the Republican nominee for president
Trump and Cruz Together to Fight Iran Deal in DC on Sept. 9
Latest Sections Stories
Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]

Schonfeld-logo1

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]

Baim-082115

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.

With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.

Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.

A dedicated scholar, educator and mother, Dr. Lowy was the guiding light of TCLA since its inception and the entire Touro community mourns her passing.

It’s ironic that when we hear about Arab extremists attacking and killing Jewish settlers, there is quiet from these same left wingers.

It is well known that serving olives with alcoholic drinks enhances their flavor, but you have to know what you’re doing.

All of us wish to act in kind, compassionate and intelligent ways. We all wish to build character.

The doctor said, “Make sure to get a really expensive one. You spend a third of your life in bed.”

More Articles from Joseph Offenbacher
Photo courtesy of Ilir Bajraktari/The Tower

For Halevi, however, the soldiers of the 55th were not only at the forefront of national triumph, but also became the flesh and blood manifestation of his love for the country and his desire to make the Land of Israel his home.

Jerry Greenwald (far left) and Naomi Klass Mauer (far right) of The Jewish Press with Democratic candidates for mayor (L-R) Anthony Weiner, Bill Thompson, Erick Salgado, Christine Quinn, John Liu, Bill de Blasio, and Sal Albanese. (Photo by Shimon Golding for The Jewish Press)

In front of a packed house, in the roughly six-hundred seat sanctuary of Brooklyn’s Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, seven Democratic candidates for New York City Mayor spurred the audience, and at times each other, to consider some of the city’s most pressing challenges.

Chaim Amsalem, a current member of Knesset and former member of Shas, is in the midst of establishing yet another Israeli political party, called Am Shalem.

Believing that incumbent Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) no longer effectively advocates on behalf of his constituents, and that our sacred democratic process is for naught should he run unopposed, Joseph Hayon, a 32-year-old father of two, has joined the race for New York’s 9th congressional seat. Hayon, a former retail manager, service coordinator, entrepreneur, and elementary school teacher – and self-described “regular American citizen, never before involved in politics” – is pitting himself against one of New York’s most seasoned political figures.

After more than a decade of devoted research, Hayim Tawil, professor of Hebrew Studies at Yeshiva University (YU), has completed what he describes as his magnum opus. Tawil’s achievement has scholars from across the world lauding his An Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew as a defining accomplishment in the field of biblical study.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/181549/2014/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: