To look into the eyes of those who look down on us: Avigdor Kahalani in a special column for the days of remembrance and independence

In a month I will celebrate the holiday of heroes, and from the height of my extreme age and my great experience, I may stop for a moment and ask: Where is my country going? Yes, the country I was born into, with a Palestinian birth certificate.

The small house in Ness Ziona, which touches the Arab neighborhood ten meters away, and I go to kindergarten in the middle of an Arab crowd that shows me hatred. The country that was everything to me, especially after I saw and internalized into my consciousness the pictures from the Holocaust. I grew up with Ora and grew with her.

My mother always asked me: “What will you do when you become a soldier and have to protect our country, if you are afraid to go into the dark?” My father, who was a warrior, always returned from the battlefields with stories of heroism and told me: “One day you will replace me, and remember – we will not allow our neighbors to come back here and threaten our existence. Everything depends on you and your generation, as Ecclesiastes said – ‘A generation goes and a generation comes, And the land will forever stand.”

The day I was given the uniform, I knew that I would be at the head of the camp, and that I would not disappoint my ancestors from the Bible and the leaders of the country for whom I am the tip of the spear, the shield of the country. I knew, and even prepared myself for the great moment, when I would stand in front of my soul’s desires and conquer fear – and then I would conquer the Who wants to take my life.

Station in the Golan Heights, November 2023, Photography: Moshe Shay

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I fought like all my friends several times, and we did not let the enemy defeat us. Many friends fell beside us, and we continued, because we were fighting for our lives. We turned our gaze back and saw the green fields and the buildings that were the houses, and we knew: we will not disappoint.

We won because we were better. We won, because we knew that we must not give up our place. We won, because we knew: there would not be a third exile. We won, because we relied only on ourselves and grew the concept of “brotherhood of fighters”.

In the Six Day War we were David fighting against Goliath, and the victory brought the whole world to ask how the Jewish people won, after all, only 19 years ago they came out of slavery to freedom.

That’s when the hatred towards us started, and with it the attempt to stop us. curb our determination. Stop the development and lower our flag to half-mast.

We believed in the Torah of Moses, we believed that we were with the choice, we believed that together we would win and we knew that we would not receive love from our neighbors. And even though we pray “makes peace in his heights” – peace is moving away, but we should not move away from our country. We knew that no one would move us from here, and more than that – we knew that we had nowhere to go.

I walk around the cemeteries, asking for forgiveness from those who lie there under the marble slab. to apologize for not being able to keep them. To meet the families who want to cry on the cold tombstones, and all my brothers and sisters of them are shouting. To place a blood-colored flower and tell them how much we miss and love them. And perhaps the most important of all: to feel that we will never disappoint them, and that we will be worthy of their integrity.

• • •

My friends of Beit Yisrael, where are we going? Why have we become haters of those who disagree with our opinion? Why do we glorify our enemies through the insecurity we project towards each other, when there are those who shout “we are not brothers anymore”? When there are those who ask for democracy and fight for it, but only as long as it gets along with what they would like to see on the ballot?

Let’s take advantage of this period, after defeat on the day of Simchat Torah, to stand up and regain our dignity that was taken from us. Let’s build a government that protects our right to live here, regardless of religion or gender, without difference between a kippah wearer and someone who wraps himself in a kippah. All of us, all living in this country and enjoying its beauty and being a land flowing with milk and honey, we will all stand up to protect it. One law will be made for every resident of the country. He, the resident, will fulfill his national role in turn, and after he is finished – he will continue with his other tasks and go out to do for his home.

Let’s not look for the low price of milky in Germany. Let’s be ashamed to get a foreign passport and proudly display it in the town square. Let’s not smuggle our money to countries outside of Israel, after all we all know that they were conquered or will be conquered under the rule of Islam. Let’s look into the eyes of those who look down on us, and not let them know that their death was in vain. Let’s thank them by following their path. We will deepen our roots here and build ourselves tall towers – and a place for flags will be set on top of them.

• • •

To our leaders I say: you were elected to lead, and not to walk between decisions. Be brave, because it is your job to protect us. Leave for a moment the fear that tomorrow they won’t choose you, and let’s be an example and a symbol for all of us. Look and prove to us that we were not wrong in choosing you. You will get respect after you guard the national house for us.

Remember the wound of leaving the Kibbutzim from Sada and the Golan Gate in the War of Independence for a few days, and don’t let us live outside our homes. Do not broadcast that you have forgotten us. We are ready to attack any enemy, on the condition that you understand that “in the absence of a vision – a people will perish”. I would not move anyone from their home. I would make the enemy run away from his house. I say this also out of an understanding of our situation in the world arena.

Give us independence in every issue. in the economy, which will not rely on Turkey. with weapons, that we don’t ask for it from countries that feel nothing towards us. Countries that ask that we not disturb them during their lunch break.

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Please, the people of Israel sitting in Zion, let’s face it – we are not as strong as we make ourselves out to be. We will only be strong if we strengthen each other. And we must understand where the world is going. Where does our brother flee in exile when he removes the mezuzah from above the gate of his house. We are the only ones responsible for our lives and the lives of our brothers in the entire world.

A prayer for me to the one sitting on high: Give us the strength to embrace each other, give us the intelligence to see where the whole world is going – and don’t let us depend on it.

Happy Independence Day, and ahead of it is a day of remembrance to understand the fact that we are here.

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