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!
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • 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.