Writer, songwriter, journalist, filmmaker and the poet who captured the spirit of Israel’s 1948-9 war of independence, Haim Gouri, passed away on Wednesday morning in Jerusalem.
Gouri’s songs are an inseparable part of the Israeli ethos. One of his most beloved songs is “Here our Bodies Lie,” written in memory of the fallen warriors of the “company of 35” who died on their way to aid the besieged Gush Etzion. The song sanctifies the idea of sacrifice for others.
Gouri penned two additional songs that glorify the sacrifices made by the fledgling Jewish State’s young warriors: “The Friendship,” which has become the unofficial anthem of memorial ceremonies honoring Israel’s fallen defenders; and “Bab el-Wad,” in memory of the fallen drivers and soldiers that manned the caravans that attempted to break the Arab siege on a starved Jerusalem.
Gouri was member of the rightwing faction of the Labor movement, the Ahdut Ha’avoda party, and wrote in its daily newspaper, Lamerhav. In 1967 he participated in the establishment of the Movement for Greater Israel, but over the years distanced himself from this ideal. Nevertheless, in the mid-1970s, as the settlement enterprise was just starting, Gouri served as a trusted go-between for the settler and the Labor government.