Op-Ed: Givat Assaf and Israel's Plaza de Mayo Mothers
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.
After Beit El’s Ulpana, the Givat Asaf outpost is in preparation for evacuation.
The Jewishcommunity was built in 2001, near the spot where a “settler” from Ofra, Asaf Hershkovitz, was gunned down by a Palestinian terrorist. Three months earlier, Asaf’s father, Aryeh, was also murdered in a terrorist shooting.
The hill where Givat Assaf stands was uninhabited and used by Palestinians to shoot at Israeli motorists on a daily basis. That’s why the road down below was called “the road of death”. That’s why the IDF supported the youths of Ofra and Beit El in capturing the hill and building on it.
Then-prime minister, Ariel Sharon, promised Geula Hershkovit, the wife and bereaved mother, that Israel would “protect the place”. Last week Geula Hershkovitz declared that she feels as if “the wounds have been reopened”, since her community is slated for destruction.
The memory of the many who paid with their lives is everywhere in the outposts. Mitzpe Danny was named after Danny Frei, killed by a terrorist in 1995, in the midst of the “Oslo peace process”.
Sara Klein lives in the Hayovel "outpost" at Eli. She is the wife of Roi Klein, who threw himself on a grenade during the war in Lebanon to save the lives of his soldiers. In his last seconds of life, Roi mustered the strength to shout the “Shema Yisrael”, the prayer declared by Jewish martyrs through the centuries and the last prayer said in the gas chambers.
Aside from the Kleins, the outpost was also home to Avi Wolanski and his wife, Avital, who was in an advanced stage of pregnancy when both of them were killed by an Arab sniper as their car neared home.
Yad Yair was named after Yair Mendelson, who was killed in the first intifada. Mitzpeh Shabo was named after an entire family of Itamar slaughtered during the Second Intifada. Rachelim’s outpost was named for young mother, Rachela Druck, gunned down on a bus.
Havat Gilad is named after Gilad Zar, who was shot to death through the windshield of his car. Gilad refused to drive with a bulletproof vest and turned down the army’s offer of a bulletproof car, saying it wasn’t right for him to have one when other Jews didn’t. His father, Moshe Zar, is a war hero.
The dead and the memorials in the outposts are the silent testaments to the Jewish claim on land. Up the hills, a Jewish grave is stronger than a legal suit.
These Jewish mothers and wives up in the hills are the Israeli version of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, who since April, 1977, have marched every Thursday at 3:30, demanding information about their children “disappeared” by the military dictatorship. There are two differences: the Israeli mothers know where their children are (buried in a graveyard), and if we have read and seen plenty of articles and movies about the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo nobody had time to interview, film or celebrate the Israeli mothers.
Like the mother of Eliraz Peretz, the soldier killed two years ago by Hamas and whose home, like that of Klein’s widow, Sarah, has had a demolition order issued for it because it is located in an “unauthorized” area of Eli known as the Hayovel outpost. Peretz’s mother, Miriam, told Channel 2: “There is no mother, not on our side and not ontheirs, who wants her son to die. I have taught my children to live with heroismand pride in this country”.
Who knows the name of Oriya Pass? Her daughter Shalhevet was killed in Hebron. Who knows the name of Keren Shatsky’s mother, a girl killed in a pizzeria of Karnei Shomron? Who knows the name of Danielle Shefi’s mother, killed in Adora, where the terrorists shot her while she was playing in her parents’ bedroom together with her two younger brothers.
Yael Kandel Sorek was a modest young wife who lived in the Tzur Shalem outpost. Yael’s father, Yehuda,learned about the attack on the way out of the synagogue of Kfar Pines, a moshav where they had lived for many years. He decided not to say anything to his wife, Elisheva, or to his other two children, because “there’s no crying on Shabbat”.
To write “A New Shoah” I interviewed Yael Sorek’s mother, Elisheva Kandel, who told me: “We were never afraid for our children, maybe because of what our family had suffered and the way we brought them up. My husband’s family, all of them, were killed in Auschwitz by the Nazis. We wanted all of our children to study the Torah, to be true Jews to the end. Yael was an idealistic young woman, a special woman. They thought that Carmei Tzur was the most beautiful place in the world. It is written in the Bible, this land is holy,and no one can change that. Yael lived a life in which every minute was precious, a life made up of Shabbats, of love and moments of great beauty.Knowledge was everything to Yael; she wanted to learn and learn, to get inside Judaism and fulfill the mitzvoth. Yael believed that Israel, her people, and the Torah were one and the same thing. It is the nation that is holy. And you must be ready to fight for it. I am proud of having raised children like these”.
I am thankful to know the names of these heroic Israeli mothers. They deserve to be known to all.