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.
Getty images
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.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.