Once upon not too many decades ago – before globalized media crassness took over and when Israelis were way more erudite – folks around here freely quoted such literati as German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller. It wasn’t considered elitist or esoteric. So when the Palmah was disbanded and its altruists felt they were used and then ungratefully discarded, they resorted to Schiller’s comment in his 1783 play Fiesco: “The Moor has done his work, the Moor may go.”
The Palmahniks may well have overdramatized their sense of rejection. Their undeniable voluntarism and sacrifice weren’t discounted. They were hardly castigated. They may not have gotten their political way, but they were the establishment’s adored sons, lauded in song and lore. And they rose high in its hierarchy.
The same isn’t true for the Palmahniks’ latter-day heirs at Israel’s frontlines – both in pioneering and on the battlefield – those collectively and (all-too-often) scornfully dubbed “settlers.” If any allusion to Schiller’s dispensable Moor were appropriate, it certainly is in the case of decorated war-hero Roi Klein. Rather than being the exception, his story is emblematic of the thankless attitude to his entire milieu.
Roi selflessly gave his life for us all on July 26, 2006 – almost exactly three years ago. Last week his name made the news again (admittedly not on all airwaves or in all papers and definitely not in noticeable front-page headlines). Peace Now had declared war on the family he left behind – his widow Sarah and small sons Gilad and Yoav. As could only be expected, Peace Now won handily. It could hardly be otherwise. The judicial dice are plainly loaded in its favor.
BUT WE’RE getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s first return to Roi’s last day during the Second Lebanon War. Maj. Klein, the 31-year-old deputy commander of Golani Brigade’s 51st battalion, suspected an ambush in the Hizbullah stronghold of Bint Jbeil. His requests for backup, air support or a more offensive advance were denied out of concern for Arab noncombatants who might be holed up there. Roi’s life was deemed expendable already at that stage. His senses were sharp. His company was indeed waylaid by grenade-hurling terrorists in civilian garb.
One grenade landed directly near Roi. Shouting “Shema Yisrael” (Judaism’s most definitive affirmation of faith, recited twice daily and uttered when one believes he is about to die), Roi jumped on the live grenade, saving his comrades at lethal cost to his own body. Some fellow fighters say they heard him calling out seconds before the fatal blast: “Tell my family I was killed.”
Roi could have saved his own life but he cared more about the soldiers under his command. The Ra’anana-raised officer had everything to live for. He left a young wife and two kids at home, in a new neighborhood of Eli, near Ariel. The neighborhood, where some 45 families reside – many of them of IDF officers – was founded in 1998 on Israel’s 50th birthday and was therefore suitably called Hayovel (the jubilee).
PEACE NOW – always on hand to fan the flames of discord, its moniker notwithstanding – considers Hayovel an illegal outpost. And always ready to snitch and curry favor with assorted Obamas, Peace Now petitioned the High Court to order the government to demolish many Hayovel homes, the Klein family’s included. Needless to say, the consistently left-leaning court didn’t hesitate to side with the left-wing petitioners.
Thus, 11 years after its birth, the court conferred illegitimacy upon a neighborhood constructed with Jewish Agency backing, with infrastructure prepared by the Defense Ministry and with full approval and support from the first Netanyahu government. Nonetheless, red tape for beyond-the-Green-Line projects is far more snarled than inside said Green Line. That’s the Achilles’ heel for Hayovel and similar so-called unauthorized outposts. There, final rubber-stamping is required from the highest political echelons and it frequently comes post factum, after construction is already under way with officialdom’s endorsement.
Had Peace Now merely sought to alter this state of affairs from hereon, it could only be accused of obstructionist bureaucratic pedantry. Peace Now, though, sets its officious sights retroactively too. Contrary to prevalent perceptions, which it avidly and deliberately fosters, it doesn’t just target those it portrays as wild-eyed zealots who skip madly from barren hill to barren hill with beat-up trailers in tow. It targets normative families who worked hard to erect their normative homes in normative neighborhoods. In Hayovel’s case, many of these families are military families, headed by idealistic officers who daily put their lives on the line to defend the likes of the Peace Now leadership which misses no opportunity to undercut them.
Thus Peace Now in effect posthumously turned Roi-the-hero into Klein-the-felon. And he, in his grave, won’t even know how he was dishonored. Sarah and the boys will pay the full price for his crimes of loving the land, of willingness to sacrifice life and limb for the Jewish state, of adhering to a creed upon which Peace Now frowns and of living where Peace Now prohibits Jewish residence. The family home is slated for demolition and it’s not clear if even the most sympathetic government can save it now that the inimical highest court in the land has swung its ax.
Petitions are already circulating to save the dwelling and further legal steps are afoot. But whether the house that Roi built is eventually spared somehow is almost beside the point. That house is symbolic. There are others around it and in other maligned settlements that are just as threatened and inhabited by families just as dedicated as the Kleins.
BEFORE US is another installment in the nightmare mistreatment of Israel’s best sons and daughters. It’s a smaller-scale reenactment of the massive travesty of disengagement. The 9,000-plus expellees were Israel’s most altruistic citizens. Their devotion was repaid with a contemptuous kick-in-the-teeth, fully abetted by our supposedly humanitarian above-reproach Supreme Court. Disengagement’s victims have still not been rehabilitated. Some of them, nevertheless, subsequently fought and fell in the service of their country.
Yet their gallantry is anathema to Peace Now. Strictly toeing the Peace Now line, the previous government nixed a monument to Roi in Eli, on the technical grounds that the law which pertains to memorials doesn’t apply in Judea and Samaria. A proposed amendment to the law was vigorously opposed and defeated by the Olmert-Livni coalition in the last Knesset.
Not only was Roi proverbially cast by ingrate Peace Now as Schiller’s disposable Moor, but even the service that he did render mustn’t be acknowledged and certainly not be commemorated in his own hometown. Nevertheless, solace can also be found in another Schiller quote: “Our own heart, and not other men’s opinions of us, forms our true honor.”
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