The Flower of Beit El

Each and every one of us should pause for a minute and reflect on the what Beit El families have experienced. And the reason that Beit El exists.

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Giulio Meotti

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צילום: עצמי

In 1996, after Beit El’s residents Ita Tzur and her 12-year-old son Ephraim were shot and killed in their car by Palestinians, then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to the Samaria town.

Netanyahu declared that the victims and those who survived them in Beit El were “pioneers” and “heroes” of our time. Netanyahu also promised that Beit El would never be uprooted.


Instead of lighting Shabbat candles, you lit a memorial candle”, a rabbi told the bereaved family of Mizrahi, who was called “a flower of Beit El”.
Next month, part of the area not far from "Maoz Tsur", the neighborhood built in the name of Ita and Ephraim Tzur is slated to be demolished, but the memory of those who gave their lives for Beit El and Israel will live forever.

Sitting shiva, the period of mourning, is not rare in Beit El. Terrorism often “visited” its brave families. Jews born into the post-Auschwitz era, abducted and killed just because they were Jewish, again, by the the terrorists of the “road without glory,” as the Jew and French Resistance member Bernard Fall called it.

Each and every one of us should pause for a minute and reflect on the very real hell these families have experienced. And the reason that Beit El exists.

In 1993 thousands of people attended the funeral of Haim Mizrahi, kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists near Beit El.

“Instead of lighting Shabbat candles, you lit a memorial candle”, a rabbi told the bereaved family of Mizrahi, who was called “a flower of Beit El”.

In 1995, once again, a father there recited kaddish for his son, Ohad Bachrach. And once again grandparents wept, brothers and sisters sobbed. “The blood of our brother cries out from the ground”, declared former chief rabbi and Mercaz Harav dean Rav Avraham Shapira of blessed memory.

At Beit El, Bachrach’s father Arieh, whose own father was killed during the War of Independence a few months before he was born, said “God gives, and God takes”. In 1996 Palestinians killed a yeshiva student, David Reuven Boim, 17, as he waited for a ride outside the town. He and his family had moved to Israel from New York City a few years earlier.

I interviewed many families in the “settlements” who have lost relatives under terror attacks. Jewish towns which endured hundreds of deaths during the First and Second Intifada, with the days of fear, the nights spent standing guard in the isolated houses, the massacres of families, the drives through darkened streets in helmets and bulletproof vests. Many of these families, including those from Beit El, are the protagonists of my book “A New Shoah”.

Beit El’s terror victims and their families are like the Israeli flower known as “the ultimate survivor”, because it can live in conditions that would kill many other plants. In this Persian buttercup, the storage roots have a unique structure for resisting drought. The cell walls offer protection from a sudden surge of water in the first winter rains, and at the same time protect the cells from dehydration. Examined under a microscope, the cells look like beautiful Stars of David.

Ita, Ephraim, Haim, Ohad, David: for me these innocent victims are all saints and heroes. And those who survive them, like Yoel Tzur, are the best humankind has to offer because they hold on to the value of life. 

This is why the Jews will ultimately win a centennial war against an enemy ready to sacrifice all of its children in order to throw all Israelis into the sea.

In Beit El, the celebrations of life will continue to be far more numerous than the memories of death. The town is a lighthouse of life on the border between survival and destruction. But ultimately, life will prevail over death.

Beit El and its flowers are eternal.   



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