(May 13) -- A boy came whisting through the gate. Tall, with clear wide-open eyes; a friendly smile beneath his stiff cataract of light-brown hair. That is how I saw him the last time.
His name was Jonathan. They called him Tanchik since he was a baby. He was 18 years and two months old when he died in Galilee.
He was shy, and of his feelings he betrayed even less than most boys. But in his letters home from Galilee, and especially the last that arrived after the news of his death, he wrote of the land about him with deep emotion. He had seen the undulating land at dawn with its blue band of mountains, in the last glimmer of spring sunset when the mountains still glowed with deep colour, and after the light had gone and trees stood out as thin black shapes under a dark sky brilliant with stars. With groping, clumsy phrases, he wrote of "this dear small land of ours, so beautiful, so well worth fighting for, with so much in it to treasure." In the same letter he asked for his particular Bible to re-read.
He was born in Palestine and knew no other land. His parents had wanted him, and only son, to go to the University. He preferred to go on the land.
He was not a student, but he thought for himself. And having thought something out, he respected his belief. He lacked some of the drawing-room accomplishments. But the virtues of generosity, courage, good temper, honesty and kindliness - the virtues of the gentlemen - those he had. He avoided hurting the feelings of others; yet in the end, quietly, pleasantly, he usually took his own way.
His personality was becoming distinctive, as his limitations were. His grasp was restricted largely to this land he loved. He was not an intellectual. If he was an idealist, it was half-unconsciously. There was imagination in him, and sensitiveness and common sense. Ideas could claim him, and he felt close to humanity, which embraced all things. The community was important, the community of his family, of his fellows, of his people.
Boy in Khaki
He finished school at 17. Then he went full-time into the Palmach. All his boyhood experience was thrown into that melting-pot. It set the hallmark upon his character. Once he came on leave, an N.C.O. There was nothing warlike about him. He was a big kid in khaki, a little self-conscious about his soldiering. But the man was near maturing. There was a new firmness in the line of his chin. His movements were more precise.
There is a common belief according to which Palestinian Jewish youth are a generation of hard people, intensely self-centred, intolerant, arrogant, repelling all not set in its own mould. Glittering, it is true, but with the brightness of a polished surface, throwing back the light to which it refuses access. No doubt there are some who fit this picture of the Palestinian. For, beneath there is an essential sympathy and friendliness, and a deep humanity. This youth of Tanchik's is a self-contained community. It is rough-and-ready. It recognizes personality and individuality and dislikes snobbishness. The prig stands no chance: you must be human. It knows no classes. Ideas are more important than men.
If its horizon is limited, it is because it is Generation One to the new Homeland. When you beat out new paths, relearn ways untrodden for a couple of thousands years, start re-building traditions - you haven't much thought for remote horizons. And yet, precisely because of the spirit of its own ancient traditions, and the bitter history of its people at the hands of mankind, it is keyed to human progress. But it hates the turgid sentiment, in which some of its elders indulge.
Time to Fight
They knew that the time would come when they would have to fight for their liberty and the right of their people to live here as free men. So soldiering came to them as a matter of course. The Haganah, the Palmach, itself the product of this youth, also helped to mould it. In its ranks, every one of them is exposed to the stark gaze of the other. They regard one another by simple standards, with a searching eye and a stringent judgment. "Is it a stout fellow? Is he the man for the job?" If he is not, they can be pitiless.
They judge a man by his worth among his fellows - to be a hevraman is a cardinal virtue. The spirit of the Haganah is above all the spirit of friendship and loyalty; friendship in a community of danger; friendship between officers and men.
The are doubly armoured. Bu the insurgent hope of a normal, vital youth that sees the uprising of a new world upon the shoulders of its generation; and by the immediate stakes: the fulfillment of an age-old striving for freedom - or the indefinite perpetuation of a bitter subjection.
He was ready for life. Just within reach of his long arms lay waiting for him. But somewhere in Galilee, in the soil he loved, he lies buried in his uniform.
Tanchik's part is ended. It was not unworthy of this youth to which he belongs and of the momentous hour to which he was born.
May 06, 2008
Palestinian Youth Story
Arabs killed Jews in 1948 just like they kill Jews in 2008. It's nothing new. Palestinian Youth's Story written in the Sunday May 16, 1948 edition of the Palestine Post is about a Jew murdered by an Arab. In context, the Palestinian youth refers to a Jew. Once you read this article, will you find it in your heart to cry for a murdered Jewish child?
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