Thirty years after his death, Yigal Allon still inspires certain sectors of Israeli youth. Yesterday hundreds attended a memorial service for the former Palmach leader and government minister at Kibbutz Ginosar, on the shores of Lake Kinneret.
Half an hour before the ceremony, several adults sat on plastic chairs in the Ginosar cemetery. Most were members of the kibbutz movement, former members of the Palmach pre-state military force and graduates of the nearby Kadoorie Agricultural School. Some were classmates of Allon.
Slowly but surely, young people began to pour in. Most were wearing the blue shirts of the Noar Haoved Vehalomed and Hashomer Hatzair youth movements, and many were from kibbutzim themselves.
While many national heros draw fewer and fewer people to their memorial services every year, Allon's commemoration only seems to grow.
"There is no other memorial for a leader that is constantly growing," said Nir Rothenberg, the director of the Beit Yigal Allon Museum in Ginosar. "These people come because it's important to them."
Avraham Kinarti, a former Palmach fighter, Kadoorie graduate and Knesset member, attends the service every year. "I'm no longer surprised by the sight," he said. "Every year more and more young people come. I don't know how to explain it."
"The youth movements study Yigal Allon's works," said Tal Elmaliach, who works at Beit Yigal Allon. The admiration evident in Elmaliach's voice when quoting Allon may help explain his lasting appeal. "I believe in the strength of man and the determination of his will," he recited.
Another self-described admirer, Elad Bezalel, said, "Recent years have brought a renewed look at Allon's texts. There is new interest in his legacy."
Oren Dagan of the Society for the Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites added, "Nowadays people wish to live in the kind of state Yigal Allon dreamed of, for example on the Arab-Jewish issue. This isn't a post-Zionist approach, neither hesitant nor apologetic. It's an approach of safety and security that says, 'Our place is here,' but still emphasizes the importance of dialogue, and never through condescension or arrogance. Allon extended a hand in peace, and that's the approach we want leaders to adopt today."
Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin, who made a surprise appearance at the ceremony, looked out at the sea of blue shirts and said, "Look, he's still influencing the young generation."