We Should Find Better Heroes Than Meir Har-Zion

Israel's leaders showed their true colors when they praised the late 'legendary soldier' who spilled innocent blood.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

What does Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas feel in the company of murderers released from prison, when he hugs and kisses them and praises them to the skies? After all, he himself was never actually involved in terror and certainly despises those who spill innocent blood.

This week we got the answer, when the state’s top echelons gathered at Meir Har-Zion’s Shoshana Farm to take shelter in the shadow of the deceased and his legacy. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saluted “the legendary warrior who will always serve as a model for the Israel Defense Forces.” President Shimon Peres mourned the man who was “a legend in life and death, who became one with the battle cry, ‘follow me.’” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “Thank you for being what you will continue to be — a role model for soldiers and commanders.” Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz lamented the loss of “the compass.”

Zion, give thought to the quality of the example set by Har-Zion, that young adventurer from way back, who ignored military orders and visited the forbidden Petra. Numerous innocents followed him to that place from where the living have never returned. Follow him, say the old goats to the new ones; this is your compass.

After he managed to reach the Red Rock, a disaster occurred: His sister, Shoshana, and her boyfriend, Oded, were murdered in cold blood when they were innocently hiking in the desert. The country boiled and the heavens thundered; I was a child at the time and I still remember the disgrace. So Meir, her brother, gathered some comrades from his unit and in the dead of night they attacked the Bedouin tribe from which the killers had presumably come, murdering four of its members. David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan were called upon to cover for them, and the four were freed without punishment. Thus was the “price tag” precedent set. Because he was so exalted that after him we can only descend, we follow him. In unfortunate incidents of an eye for an eye, it’s best to keep your eyes closed.

Your Honor, won’t you consider the torn Israeli heart or the boiling Palestinian one? Will the law ignore the Arab-Jewish tradition of retribution? Does his honor not know that hot blood rises to the head? Due to our sins, these are our heroes, these are the people we admire and reward, and we have to find extenuating circumstances for them: The blood calls out to us and drives us crazy, and the law and the regime must hear it. This is the reality in which we live, and in which we die – what’s so hard to understand here, Your Honor?

Har-Zion in old age did not embarrass his youth. He remained true to himself and to us until the end. The young adventurer became a bit of a racist: “We have to make it difficult for Israeli Arabs, so that they won’t want to live here and will leave,” he said not long ago. Who this week didn’t praise his skills in navigation and reaching the target; follow him!

“There hasn’t been such a brave soldier since Bar Kochba,” said Dayan. Well, 580,000 Jews were killed in the insane revolt led by Bar Kochba, whom Jewish sages throughout the generations regarded as an arrogant and false messiah. Some 950 villages were destroyed, and the survivors were sent into exile and sold into slavery. Unbridled courage is sometimes an outlet for depression and compensation for suicidal tendencies. O My Land, do not cover your blood with more blood.

So how does Mahmoud Abbas feel in the company of murderers? The same way Ben-Gurion felt in the company of war criminals from the retaliatory attack at Qibya and the massacre at Kafr Qasem; the way Peres stood up for the Shin Bet’s skull-splitters in the Bus 300 affair; they way Chaim Herzog felt when he showed mercy to the terrorists from the Jewish Underground; and the way Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz felt at Har-Zion’s funeral this week: a mild tremor at the end of the eulogy that immediately passes.

And from here at the Shoshana Farm our broadcast goes straight to Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, where the entire A-Team is going to participate in the torch-lighting ceremony. This year, on Israel’s 66th Independence Day, 14 women will stand alone on the central stage, as separated as they are at the Western Wall Plaza or the women’s section of the synagogue, or in religious schools or on ultra-Orthodoxy’s dream bus. Another state demonstration of the glory of the State of Israel.

Har-Zion, first from the left, with Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan in 1955. Credit: AP

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