The Day After / Margaliot - The Real Heroes

Oh, the quiet, the quiet; never has there been quiet like this. For 34 thundering days I have not heard anything like it, and I doubt I'll ever hear it again. After so much noise, quiet has a special quality, taste and aroma; all my senses break out in poetry. And at this moment I touch it to see if it's real. Around here we'll still have to get used to it.

Everyone predicted that a moment before the cease-fire he - the primitive Nasrallah - would take advantage of the right of last Katyusha to have it echo as a final chord. And what a surprise: it was progressive Israel that bombed Beirut and Tyre until 8 A.M. precisely. We didn't miss a second of the war, as if those bring-up-the-rear bombs could change the bottom line. Israel and Hezbollah, Ehud Olmert and Hassan Nasrallah, have switched roles.

Moshav Margaliot in the far north will now have to lick its wounds, renew its strength, and come back to life. It's not so simple. Not so fast will a forgotten village rise from the ashes and renew its days as yore - and anything before 34 days and nights ago is all yore.

Some 1,000 Katyushas passed overhead here in their destructive flight toward battered and bruised Kiryat Shmona. Only about 15 fell in our yards. Even the shell-shocked chickens will find it difficult to go back to regular laying, not to mention the people.

Margaliot is the closest place to the fence. Only its neighbor, Kibbutz Manara, is a bit closer. This frightful proximity expands human experience: residents of the village lift their eyes to the mountains around, lest those blackguards on the next ridge above us have returned or will soon return. They have been promised a thousand times that the land will enjoy peace.

The caution of the residents of Margaliot is not behind-covering a la Home Front Command; it is the natural and historic cautioning of experts by dint of personal experience. Olmert and Peretz can sing the praises of the agreement to their heart's content, but in Margaliot they know better, they know the truth.

Never has a war produced so many nameless heroes because individuals whose names are well known were not heroes at all. Each person has his or her own heroes; I have mine, too. Everyone who stayed up north despite everything and struggled between volleys to harvest the apples that are the apple of their eye. They are my heroes. After all they could have trusted in sure compensation. But they don't entirely trust, and as farmers they love a harvest on the tree more than a check in the hand. And as for those who wandered for many days as refugees in their own land, carrying their families and their homes on their backs - they too are among the heroes.

And as for heroines: Oshrat Davidi and Irit Sermili, two women in their ninth month, did not budge from here in recent weeks, putting their trust in their families and shelters. What would we have done here without them and their inner discipline.

The greatest heroines of them all were Liroz and Or and Liel and Sivan, good girls from Margaliot, who even in moments of panic neither screamed nor cried. Since the prime minister did not mention them in his speech yesterday, I feel it my duty to do so.

I saw the pregnant Oshrat coming down the steps of her house this morning with her two daughters. They looked happy and, finally, free. I waved to them and they waved back. And I was suddenly happy, too.

In a little while the forgotten Margaliot will sink completely into oblivion. The state never especially remembered these distance places; it can never compensate them for what they have been through over the past 50 years, nor over the past month.