My Man of the Year for 5771

The year 5771 was blessed with exemplary people - an ugly year with many beautiful people; the darker the afternoon becomes, the brighter every spark glows.

Every hour has its man, and in 5771 there were many hours and quite a few people. This column has made it a tradition that, every Rosh Hashanah, it selects a person of the year - the ox that no owner could buy and the ass that will not be a slave to its master's crib.

I myself do not remember all the selections I made in years gone by; it's not because of them, it's because of me. But Col. Erez Ron I will remember from 2006. At the air force base of Nevatim, which he commanded, dozens of the soldiers under his command had sex with an underage girl. An investigative committee cleared him of any wrongdoing, but Erez stood up, took responsibility and retired from the army of his own accord. If only others would take his example.

And I remember Avi Toibin, who saved the life of a young woman kayaking in the Yarkon River in May 2009. Many people saw her drowning, but Avi was the only one to jump into the dangerous water. And, last year, Rabbi Amiel Keinan, who sent his son Ran to first grade at Ner Etzion school in Petah Tikva, the only white boy among 289 black children.

And then there is Ilana Hammerman, who together with her friends accompanied Palestinian women for a fun day in Tel Aviv - to see the sea for the first time in their lives. On their way they overcame roadblocks and broke the sound barrier.

The year 5771 was blessed with exemplary people - an ugly year with many beautiful people; the darker the afternoon becomes, the brighter every spark glows. The protest alone could present a whole row of unique people, who decided to be human beings in their coming into tents and their going out thereof.

Among the candidates for the title are people who follow their conscience, which stops them before their ride reaches Ariel, and now Hebron as well. In a state without borders, some citizens have to be found who draw the line.

The actor Rami Baruch represents them, and he is my man of the year, although he was not among those who initiated the boycott and not the first to publicize it. Baruch, of all people, who did not know he had it in him, and only the hand of fate urged to front and center stage, to the spotlight of controversy. It is difficult to understand the theater heads who insist on turning actors into conscientious objectors, as if actors are marionettes whose strings politicians are pulling; as if culture can stand tall when government dictates hang heavy around its neck. We can and should boycott the Tnuva dairy concern, but not just because of the settlements - although they cost more; much more.

I do not know Rami well. We met once, when we both acted in a play to be shown at an annual education convention. He played Ben-Gurion and I played Theodor Herzl or the other way around; it doesn't matter. Both - the visionary and the man who made visions come true - would turn over in their graves to see the Jewish state in its Hebronite variation, the pig whose snout is adorned with Zionism's ring of gold.

No need to worry, though. If he continues in his rebellious ways, substitutes will be found. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be happy to appear before him in the role of prime minister, which he has been playing now for a few seasons. Just this weekend he put on one heck of a performance off-off-broadway. Netanyahu, as opposed to Herzl and Ben-Gurion, has no problem being a guest in the apartheid city and reaping its adulation.

What is so infuriating about "apartheid"? Don't say apartheid, they caution - anything but that, as if "occupation" sounds and looks better. After all, Hebron is clearly a city of ethnic purification and separation, and if a Palestinian wants to see the play "Pollard's Trial" - Rami Baruch in a one-man show - he will quickly find himself in the basement of the new cultural center.

It is infuriating because it frightens us: Apartheid immediately conjures up the old South Africa, a general international boycott, the isolation of lepers; it is infuriating and frightening because no righteous person will set foot there; that is how terrible it is. Because no creator worthy of the name in the whole world would be willing to terrify his creations with the ghosts of Meir Kahane and Baruch Goldstein, who still live here in splendor; they never died, nor were they buried beyond the fence.