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 4 of 4)

Listening to Hanan, one of his friends thought: He can only see the return in abstract terms because he’s not an orphan like us.

They argued about whether the new Kfar Etzion should be a kibbutz like its predecessor. Hanan wasn’t sure: a kibbutz, with its limited size and screening committee for applicants, would absorb at best a few hundred people, when the goal should be to attract thousands. A kibbutz, he said sarcastically, isn’t a mitzvah from the Torah.

His friends, though, insisted on a kibbutz, and Hanan relented. It was, after all, poetic for the first West Bank settlement to be a kibbutz, a link between the movement that had helped found the state of Israel with the movement that was about to complete it.

‘I need your help,” Hanan said to Yoel over breakfast of white cheese and olives in the Mercaz dining room.

“When we return,” he continued, “I want us to have a yeshiva. Kfar Etzion can’t just be a place of physical renewal. There has to be a light emanating from it to the people of Israel.”

“I’m with you, Hanan,” said Yoel. “What do you need from me?” “I want you to come and teach.” Yoel mentioned Hanan’s offer to his fiancée. Esther Raab’s father had been among those taken prisoner by the Jordanians in 1948 from a kibbutz near Kfar Etzion. “Returning to the Etzion Bloc,” said Esther, “is the dream of my life.”

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