From Tel Hai, With Love

It was an unusual cabinet meeting, convened in Tel Hai to mark exactly 90 years since the death of Joseph Trumpeldor and 74 years since the birth of Benjamin "Fuad" Ben-Eliezer.

Unusual, but not unprecedented. There have been cabinet meetings in the far north and far south in the past, and their agendas are well known: The prime minister opens with a few festive words about government plans for the country's so-called periphery, and vows to come to the next such event by train. Ministers and deputies repeat the remarks, each making the same lofty promises.

The locals are then allowed to speak, to air their tales of struggle and strife, to bemoan the ongoing discrimination against them and to demand actions, not just words. The prime minister then brings the event to a close, but not before the cabinet secretary reads out the decisions that were made. Precise figures are thrown out, budgets are quoted and the premier again vows to maintain contact with the working public, and to monitor progress in the field personally.

And that's it; the ritual is over. All of its participants have played the roles prescribed for them, which each knows by heart.

Everyone parts as friends. There is no fear of bitter disappointment, because expectations were so very low from the get-go.

The ministers returned to Jerusalem after the same ritual in high spirits yesterday, a bit tired but pleased. They had held their own: Indeed, on a hot, hazy day, they inscribed their promises in ice, which at some point during the journey home - maybe around Rosh Pina - melted into a puddle.

But yesterday the meeting's horizons extended beyond the north: A nationwide plan for preserving heritage sites was unveiled. And although at the outset it was clearly stated that the list is only a preliminary one, it is in theory virtually infinite. Of course, Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem appear there. And how can we forget Joseph's Tomb in Nablus?

The future is concealed in the present, and the past is concealed mainly in Judea and Samaria - the very "rock of our existence." That's why we'll devote the bulk of our resources to land and tombs.

Even Tu Bishvat has been dedicated to the settlers' legacy, so let's now dedicate the 11th of Adar - the day of Trumpeldor's death - to them as well, by saying, "From Tel Hai, with love."

Where trees are uprooted they should be replanted, and where Palestinians are injured, it is fitting to heal Jews.

When will we devote less to the three fathers and four mothers, and more to sons and daughters? When will we worry less about tombs and memorials, and more about the coming generations?

Every day we see news reports that residents of the Gaillee and Negev have never felt so abandoned and forgotten. Since the Katyushas in the north and Qassams in the south went quiet, the government has fallen silent as well. And whatever the government doesn't do, Hezbollah and Hamas will. Another missile, another rocket - and Kiryat Shmona and Sderot will again be placed above our highest joy.