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Literature and Poetry/
Rabin Memorial Day

Meir Shalev

The Last Palmach Casualty

From a speech delivered at the State Memorial Ceremony at Binyanei HaUma

What remains after the eloquent words, the soul-searching, the reconciliation, the heritage, the unity?

Only simple plain truthful words somewhere between anger and pain. Words that no false unity can annul.

Not a split, not a civil war. Anger and disdain-yes, anger at the ground that gave rise to the killer, contempt for the ideas that led to the murder.

And the longing, the yearning for a man we did not praise enough to his face, for a straightforward and honest man, that even if we did not all agree to all of his opinions and actions, we knew that this was the man, internally and externally upright. And the longing for a person who was not confined to the fortified arena of his views. That at an advanced age when beliefs are already wrapped in stone and perceptions become frozen, and no longer does one deviate from the trampled roads, suddenly, with great momentum, he leapt from regularities of his life onto a new path. And the roots of the turning point, to those who remember, lie in the young Yitzhak Rabin, who already in his speech on Mount Scopus immediately after the Six-Day War had said that we, the Jews, are not capable of the joy of the conqueror and the victor. So he said - and then a Jew got up and murdered him.

And the yearning for a man who belongs to a generation, a generation of youth that is gradually diminishing before our eyes. A singular generation, wondrous of all generations – the generation of the Palmach. A generation that manifested the opposite of parasitism, the opposite of evasion, the opposite of messianism, the opposite of glory and majesty, the opposite of extremism, the opposite of demagoguery. But yes, a trophy of silver and yes, and such comradeship.

And the rain, it seems, still descends upon the living pals covering their faces and the faces of the dead friends that they no longer cover. And how terrifying was the scorn of fate, because in addition to all the crowns of Yitzhak Rabin along came this terrible superfluous title - the last casualty of the Palmach.

And from here there is more yearning, longing for ourselves, for that direct, honest, ethical and courageous part that that is gradually abandoning our souls.

And the most difficult longing of all, the longing of a family, the longings of love that have no escape.

The yearning of a wife, the longing of a sister – of a son and a daughter, of a close friend, of a granddaughter and grandson, of an empty bed, of an orphaned chair near a desk, longings for a pat, a picture album, longings distributed to memories, here the husband stood, here the father sat, here was the brother, here the grandfather fell.

And what now? Indeed, the memories. The last weapon of the dead and the sword of companions. And so, in memories, we will take his revenge.

Not in a civil war, not by two divided tribes, but with the old weapon, the tested weapon of the Jews, in a very long and sharp memory.

We who remember all the stray dogs of our history, we will also remember this murder, remember who was murdered, remember who killed, we will not forget.

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