Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Tack: The Moor has done his work

Once upon not too many decades ago - before globalized media crassness took over and when Israelis were way more erudite - folks around here freely quoted such literati as German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller. It wasn't considered elitist or esoteric. So when the Palmah was disbanded and its altruists felt they were used and then ungratefully discarded, they resorted to Schiller's comment in his 1783 play Fiesco: "The Moor has done his work, the Moor may go."

Maj. Ro'i Klein, z"l, who was...

Maj. Ro'i Klein, z"l, who was killed when he jumped on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers during the Second Lebanon War.
Photo: Courtesy

The Palmahniks may well have overdramatized their sense of rejection. Their undeniable voluntarism and sacrifice weren't discounted. They were hardly castigated. They may not have gotten their political way, but they were the establishment's adored sons, lauded in song and lore. And they rose high in its hierarchy.

The same isn't true for the Palmahniks' latter-day heirs at Israel's frontlines - both in pioneering and on the battlefield - those collectively and (all-too-often) scornfully dubbed "settlers." If any allusion to Schiller's dispensable Moor were appropriate, it certainly is in the case of decorated war-hero Roi Klein. Rather than being the exception, his story is emblematic of the thankless attitude to his entire milieu.

Roi selflessly gave his life for us all on July 26, 2006 - almost exactly three years ago. Last week his name made the news again (admittedly not on all airwaves or in all papers and definitely not in noticeable front-page headlines). Peace Now had declared war on the family he left behind - his widow Sarah and small sons Gilad and Yoav. As could only be expected, Peace Now won handily. It could hardly be otherwise. The judicial dice are plainly loaded in its favor.

BUT WE'RE getting ahead of ourselves. Let's first return to Roi's last day during the Second Lebanon War. Maj. Klein, the 31-year-old deputy commander of Golani Brigade's 51st battalion, suspected an ambush in the Hizbullah stronghold of Bint Jbeil. His requests for backup, air support or a more offensive advance were denied out of concern for Arab noncombatants who might be holed up there. Roi's life was deemed expendable already at that stage. His senses were sharp. His company was indeed waylaid by grenade-hurling terrorists in civilian garb.

One grenade landed directly near Roi. Shouting "Shema Yisrael" (Judaism's most definitive affirmation of faith, recited twice daily and uttered when one believes he is about to die), Roi jumped on the live grenade, saving his comrades at lethal cost to his own body. Some fellow fighters say they heard him calling out seconds before the fatal blast: "Tell my family I was killed."

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