A behind-the-scene story:-
Much less known is that while transcribing the tapes of the interviews, someone proposed they interview the religious youth who were combat veterans...an editorial team from "The Seventh Day," Amram and Giora Mozenson from Na'an, went to a meeting with a group of the students from the yeshiva. The interview went on for five hours. When the interviewers returned with their transcripts, Oz and Shapira were horrified.
Fifteen years later, in a meeting at the West Bank settlement of Ofra, Oz told the settlers what he felt when he read the transcripts...
..."It was a shocking encounter. The "Seventh Day" people went with the hope of finding allies against the sentiment that was sweeping the country after the military victory, the nationalistic drunkenness and the general worshiping, the orgies of victory. They came back from their meeting downcast and mourning. Not only because of the euphoria they found in the yeshiva, the ecstasy of the Western Wall, Anatot, Shiloh and Beit El, and the talk of victories and miracles and salvation and the days of the messiah - all foreign tongues to us."
But what "really hurt," said Oz, "was the utter apathy toward our moral crisis. There was enormous self-doubt after the victory, about our values, our ideals, our conscience, our worldview. All that prevented us from ignoring the significance of having become a nation occupying another ... the Six-Day War was a war between armies, not peoples. The people of Israel went into it with a national agreement, that it was going to defend its very existence. Nothing more than that ... that agreement was trod underfoot the day after the war, and the country filled with different tunes and new appetites and shofar blasting, and that was a shock to us, a source of suffering and moral dilemmas.
"And not only were the Merkaz Harav people speaking a different language, not one of them understood what pained us, what our moral problem was. Their utter indifference appeared to us to be thick, glib, vain and patronizing, physical, drunk with power, overflowing with messianic rhetoric that was ethno-centric, apocalyptic, and in one word, inhuman, and not Jewish. To them, the Arab people under our control were not even there, as if they were never born."
Six Merkaz Harav students, all in their twenties, gathered at Yohanan Fried's house in Jerusalem, in August 1967. Four of them, Fried, Issar Kolanski, Yitzhak Ben-Shahar, and Dov Begun, fought in the Jerusalem Brigade in the West Bank. Naftali Bar-Ilan and Yoel Bin-Nun were in the Paratroopers Brigade, which broke into the Old City and conquered it.
Fried, the first to speak, talked about a sermon delivered their yeshiva head, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, on the Independence Day that preceded the war. The rabbi said that he did not dance on the first independence day of the State of Israel. "he could not be happy because he felt was missing Hebron, Nablus, Jericho," Fried said, adding, "the emotional experience of the magic of Jerusalem and the magic of the Greater Land of Israel were the feeling of a person who felt he had lost limbs. My life was not emotionally complete."
Bin-Nun spoke of his feelings and his "anticipation of great things" during the waiting period before the war. He quoted Rabbi Kook senior, writing on the eve of World War One, "... burning sentences about the greatest of all wars, and how the greater the war, the more one should expect even greater things to follow it."
Begun: "Before the war I had the feeling that everything had to be mental, rational, orderly. After the war I don't know ... I wonder ... I feel that something is happening, something big is approaching. I don't depend on rationalism any more. I'm going ... with all of Israel, toward something, I don't know what, but I believe it's a good thing."
Fried: "There are three things we have witnessed, and speak about them as something either we or our parents lived through: the Holocaust, the establishment of the State of Israel, and the war we're talking about now. These three things were a clear sign that the Blessed One gave us two opportunities for every action in the direction of a great future. One is simple, intellectual, rational, perhaps in the hands of man. Maybe it's too brutal a sentence but the Holocaust was like some huge broom that accelerated the immigration to the Land, as if the Blessed One said to us, `Enough, children ... you played at what you want ... now I'll move you by force."
Kolanski: "We had the feeling of total lack of direction. Not only we weren't trained to be strong and victors ... we weren't trained to be a little bit taller."
Mozenson: "You mean that you didn't have the ability to grasp great things? Is that what you mean?"
Kolanski: "Right. We were embarrassed because none of us were used to grasping great things ... all the worshiping I do in my daily life, which occupies the center of my life, became in a certain way just a shadow of all the feeling I would have if the Temple were to exist and all of the Land of Israel were in our hands."
And now. let us reread what Benjamin Netanyahu said in a 1996 interiew:-
...This is not a foreign land for us. It is not Denmark or Holland. It is not a matter of coincidence that we are here. For thousands of years, Jews struggled to return to Israel. For thousands of years, they shed oceans of blood and tears because of their desire to return. Now we see a generation emerging in Israel who, with a wave of their hand, seek to break this bond. I see the Algerian analogy as a grave symptom of a profound loss of identity. It is difficult to believe. When I walk among the hills of Beit El or Judea, or in the environs of Jerusalem, am I treading on foreign soil?
Judea and Samaria are not Algeria. This is a misleading analogy. In historical terms, our entire existence here is inextricably linked to these parts of the country. In geographic and security terms, there is no sea separating us from these regions. They are not some overseas colony, some far-flung settlement in Cyprus or southern Turkey. They are here. This is why both in national and strategic terms, the comparison is absurd. However, it does reveal the heart of the problem. The fact is that we cannot simply pack up and leave this place. Where would we go? When will we see the end of the demand to retreat? At what point will the land stop being foreign?
If the supposed foreignness of these areas is the product of the obvious and well-known fact that a large Arab population lives in Judea and Samaria, then what about the Galilee and much of the Negev? There, too, there is a large Arab population. The idea that we are strangers in those parts of the country which are settled mainly by Arabs inevitably leads to a gradual return to the partition agreement, and from there to an abandonment of our basic right to any part of the country. Those who dream of closing ourselves off in a gilded seaside fortress, in some kind of luxury suburb on the Tel Aviv shore, are dreaming an impossible dream. This dream is reminiscent of the illusions prevalent among the Christians in Lebanon, who gave up most of the country to others in the hope that they would be left with something. In the end, they were left with nothing.
...Q: In your book A Place Among the Nations, there is a rather emotional section in which you recall yourself as a soldier stopping by Shiloh and Betar during an army training hike and feeling a sense of return, on behalf of all the generations. You quote Moshe Dayan: "We have returned to the mountain, to the cradle of our nation, to the inheritance of our ancestors ... we have returned to Hebron and Nablus, to Bethlehem and Anatot." Is it possible that the irony of history will mean that despite this, you will be the one to lead us to cut ourselves off once and for all from these places, from Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem and Anatot?
A: We are not cutting ourselves off from Hebron. We are redeploying there. What I have been working hard to achieve over the past few weeks is precisely to ensure that we protect the lives of the Jews in Hebron and maintain our holy sites in the city.
Nevertheless, the arrangement in Hebron is extremely difficult for me since I have a deep bond to these places. They speak to me. Every stone, every terrace, every tree and every hill raises memories, connects me to a very real historical experience of which I feel an inseparable part. I cannot understand why we tend to have great respect for the Arabs' bond to the land, which is relatively recent, while at the same time disparaging our own bond to the land, which goes back thousands of years.
...Hebron...is the oldest settlement in Jewish history. This is where our matriarchs and patriarchs are buried.
This is why I feel such a great burden of responsibility and am doing everything I can to secure our historical assets, without jeopardizing all the other aspects and national interests that it is my responsibility as prime minister to protect.
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