In 'Like Dreamers' a Paratrooper from the 1967 War Dives Into the Settler Movement

Book Excerpt

Enraptured:  Supporters carry Hanan Porat as they celebrate the government’s agreement in December 1975 to allow the first Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, at the Sebastia railway station.
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Enraptured: Supporters carry Hanan Porat as they celebrate the government’s agreement in December 1975 to allow the first Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, at the Sebastia railway station.

By Yossi Klein Halevi

Published October 17, 2013, issue of October 25, 2013.
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(page 3 of 4)

In his permanently hoarse voice, Hanan read a poetic account of a journey he’d recently taken to Kfar Etzion, this time in the company of friends. A middle-aged man, one of the few survivors of the massacre, ran atop the bunker where the last of Kfar Etzion’s defenders had died and began pounding with a pickax.

“It was as if he were trying to signal to someone down below. And a faint echo from the void seemed to respond: ‘I am still alive, where are you, my friend? Respond, give me a sign!’”

The president of Israel stood and kissed Hanan on the forehead.

Hanan mailed out a questionnaire to the children of Kfar Etzion: Are you prepared to return? And if so, what kind of settlement should we create? A kibbutz or a noncommunal village? A community only for the Orthodox, or open to everyone?

A dozen friends affirmed their readiness to “go up” and settle. “I don’t care what will be established there,” one wrote. “Even if it will be a yeshiva, you can assign me the job of janitor.”

But when they gathered together for a planning session, tensions emerged.

“What if the government doesn’t agree to our return?” a friend asked Hanan.

“We go up anyway,” Hanan replied. “Let’s see them removing us!”

“We’re returning home in memory of our parents,” his friend countered. “If we go up without authority, we will desecrate their memory.”

The deeper tension within the group was about whether the return to Kfar Etzion was a personal act of restoration or, as Hanan insisted, a national act with messianic implications. The resurrected Kfar Etzion, he told his friends, would be the first of many settlements in Judea and Samaria. They were blessed to be the avant-garde. And in restoring the wholeness of the Holy Land, the world would be healed, redeemed.


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