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The first Hebrew guard returned yesterday to his post in Givat Zaid, where he keeps watch over the Jezreel Valley on horseback.

The bronze statue of Alexander Zaid, who in 1907 became one of the founders of a precursor to the Hashomer Jewish defense organization in pre-state Israel, was returned to its rightful place two months after unknown vandals knocked it to the ground.

"Alexander Zaid was always part of the valley's landscape," said Dror Ahava Romem, a member of the band Groovatron, which sang Yossi Banai and Naomi Shemer songs as the statue was being replaced. "It's the ultimate symbol of the valley."

The vandalism took place on the day the band's latest album was launched, a coincidence that made it particularly important for the band to be there when the statue was replaced, said Ahava Romem. "The restoration of the statue is the preservation of culture, without the pathos of the statue and without analyses," he said.

Other Jezreel Valley youth were also present at the reinstatement, indicating the continued relevance of Hashomer. Indeed, an organization called Hashomer Hahadash ("the new Hashomer") keeps watch over pasture lands near Tzipori.

"Zaid's heritage suits us today, too," said Tali Zaid-Raveh, a granddaughter of Alexander Zaid. "Anyone who is in the field must preserve it. That's true in the city too - people don't feel protected today."

"At the beginning I felt very bad, but it later became clear that there are plenty of good people. All segments of the public came to us, the defense minister sent a representative, and all the Tivon residents rushed over. I would have preferred that it hadn't happened, but I also see the good - there's a generation that doesn't know Zaid, and it puts him back in the discourse."