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May 01, 1981 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-05-01

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12 Friday, May 1, 1981


Platoon's Kfar Etzion Struggle Part of Independence Day Lore


World Zionist Press Service

is made up of incidents . . .
some become immortalized
and others — even acts of
great valor — often become
lost in the greater drama
against which they were
enacted. The broad sweep of
history is better remem-
bered than its apparently
minor events.
The story of The 35" is a
story of great heroism, and
it is well-known in Israel.
However, to the rest of the
world, it is a minor part of
the overall struggle for the
birth of the state of Israel,
with details having become
blurred with the years.
• The story is linked to the
struggle for the Etzion Bloc.
Today it is a peaceful rural
community 14 miles south
of Jerusalem, situated be-

tween Bethlehem and Heb-
ron. At Kfar Etzion,
families live and work, their
daily lives tranquil and ful-
filling. In 1948 the whole
Etzion Bloc was under
siege, subjected to Arab at-
tacks, riots and massacres
repeatedly, dating right
back to 1929.
In 1948, life in that area
was a gruelling experi-
ence. In winter, Kfar Etz-
ion's slopes were covered
with dank mist and the
wind screeched. In sum-
mer, a harsh sun parched
the earth. There was no
water. The land was
cleared by hand, aided by
four mules, and the top-
soil terraced with stones
to prevent the rain wash-
ing it away. Nevertheless,
four villages had been
settled in the Etzion Bloc,
with most members

lute as it circled over their
grave, set among bushes
and cypress saplings. Most
of the defenders of Kfar Etz-
ion, men and women, were
massacred by an Arab mob
four months later, after
having capitulated to the
Arab Legion, which wiped
out all traces of their Jewish
But in the Six-Day War,
in June 1967, the Israel
army recaptured the whole
Bloc area. Kibutz NO' 'a
Lamed Heh (The Pat. .ie
35) was founded in .1949 in
memory of the valiant pla-
toon. Kibutz Kfar Etzion
was rebuilt by the religious
kibutz movement and, in-
cluded in the group now liv-
ing and working there are
children of the original
settlers who gave their lives
for the new state of Israel in

able to get through the Arab
lines unseen.

The monument of remembrance in Jerusalem
commemorating those who fell during Israel's War for

working in afforestation
when they were not de-
fending their villages
from Arab attack.
Early in January, 1948,
the whole Etzion Bloc was
under siege, and the

Hagana decided that the
only way to assist them was
to send a battalion of men by
foot from Hartuv. Only 35
men could be spared, and it
was believed that a small
platoon might possibly be

However, while crossing
the Hebron hills they
encountered large Arab
gangs on whom they in-
flicted heavy casualties be-
fore being themselves wiped
out in the face of over-
whelming odds. After kil-
ling the Jewish soldiers, the
Arabs mutilated their
bodies. A relief convoy to
Kfar Etzion also suffered
heavy losses.
The bodies of the 35 mar-
tyrs were buried in a com-
mon grave at Kfar Etzion,
the settlement they had
been on their way to relieve.
A shooting party paid trib-
ute by firing three volleys
over their grave and a small
Aviron plane, which had
dropped medical supplies to
the settlement, dipped in sa-

An Arab Golda Meir Stresses Political Causes and Women's Lib


HAIFA — Social worker,
age 52, born in the Arab vil-
lage of Kfar Yassif, mother
of three grown sons; her
grandfather was a Greek
Orthodox priest, and her
father a police officer under
the British Mandate. These
are the elementary facts in
the life of Violet Khoury,
but there is much more to
the story of this remarkable
Ten years ago, Violet
Khoury bucked the tradi-
tional Arab political con-
servatism, ran for Town
Council in Kfar Yassif, and
has been a member ever
since. For two of those years
she was mayor of the town,
perhaps the only woman to
serve as mayor of an Arab
town in Israel or for that
-matter anywhere in the
Middle East.
She has higher political
ambitions. During a long
personal interview in the
Kfar Yassif council cham-_
hers, she told me she would
like to become the first Arab
woman member of the
Knesset. The chances are
slight, because in Israel's
political system one has to
work within the framework
of an established political
party, and Mrs. Khoury pre-
fers to be politically inde-
Shi .s a broad back-
grou . As a graduate of
the English Mission
School in Haifa, she
speaks near-perfect
English. As a social
worker who has for some
years covered more than
40 Arab villages in the
Galilee, on foot, by jeep or
on horseback, she knows
at first hand the prob-
lems of Israel's Atabs.
And as a woman, leading
the fight for equal rights,
she knows what it is to

constant struggle for
personal survival, each
individual looks out for
his own skin. But when
personal survival is as-
sured, and economic
conditions are good;then
there is time to be con-
cerned with group survi-
val. The inference was
that the more Israel does
for its Arab citizens, .the
more it provides the at-
mosphere in, which
separatist nationalism
and extremism flourish.
Her view on the Jorda-
option: Don't push it.
Even if a Palestinian state.
struggle against prej- is established next door, it
will sooner or later be ab-
Laughingly she told me sorbed into Jordan.
that she feels herself to be a
"If I were a Jew," she went
minority within a minority on, "I would ask the next
within a minority within a
minority — an Israeli,
Christian, Arab, woman!
Of course Mrs. Khoury
has- views on Arab-Jewish
World Zionist
political problems but she
Press Service
considers herself a moder-
ate. She bemoans the trend man from Galicia was in-
toward the extremism on spired by the founding of
both sides, and would like to Petah Tikva, and wrote a
work toward bridging the poem about his feelings. A
gap between the two farmer from Rishon leZion
peoples, who should live heard the poem in 1878. He
side-by-side as friendly enjoyed it so much that he
promptly set it to music.
She has words of high The song was originally
praise for what Israel has called "Tikvatenu" (Our
done for its Arab popula- Hope"), later to become
tion, not least the elevation "HaTikva," the national an-
of the status of the Arab them of the state of Israel,
woman, and the general though never given official
economic improvement in
the lot of the Arab citizen. If status as such by the Knes-
that is the case, we ask, why set.
Naphtali Herz Imber was
the recent upsurge of unrest
and dissatisfaction among born in 1856 into a Hasidic
Israel's Arabs?
family. He received a tradi-
She reminded me that tional education, and left
for 50 years the Arabs home at an early age to
here have lived under wander around the world.
military rule — which While in Constantinople, he
means oppression, no struck up a friendship with
matter how benevolent. Laurence Oliphant, a
So long as life means a Christian Zionist, and came

prime minister of Israel to
take an unconventional
step. Just as Sadat was a
great hero, braving the
wrath of the entire Arab
world by coming to
Jerusalem and making
peace with Israel, so Israel's
leader should be a hero and
sit down to talk with Yasir
Arafat. Perhaps the two
would find some common
ground from which to make
a start; if not, what has been
lost? At least the effort has
been made."
I reminded her that-
Arafat has sworn to destroy
Israel; that his terrorists
kill children in the Galilee,
athletes in Munich, women
in the market places; that
the world is indebted to him
for popularizing the hijack-

ing ,of planes for political
To this she replied that
because of the Holocaust,
Jews have a psychologi-
cal fear of an enemy seek-
ing to annihilate them.
The Arabs, too, have a
great fear of Israel's in-
tentions, she said.
She insists therd are
many moderates among the
Arabs; they are simply
shouted down by the ex-
tremists. When the Com-
munist mayor of Nazareth
recently addressed a meet-
ing of Arab town mayors
and launched an unbridled
attack against Israel's
policies he was heckled by
Violet Khoury who accused
him of "incitement" but she
was in turn shouted down


by others in the audience.
She is not discouraged.
They (Arab extremists) may
even assassinate Arabs who
do not agree with them, but
she is not afraid, she told-,
me. She wishes other Arab •
women would join her in
taking political initiatives'
and is hopeful that as more
and more of them receive an
education, they may be pre-
pared to assert themselves.
.Behind her smiling
brown-green eyes and her
soft manner I sensed a
strong woman, one who had
successfully 'challenged the
traditional hierarchy of her
village, and was prepared to
fight for greater causes as
well. No wonder the Arabs
call her the Golda of Kfar


Petah Tikva Inspiration for Israeli Anthem

with him to Palestine in
1882. -
He served as Oliphant's
secretary and adviser on
Jewish affairs. Imber
stayed in Palestine for
some six years, during
which time he wrote es-
says and articles for He-
brew periodicals, as well
as several poems.
"Tikvatenu," one of Im-
ber's most popular poems,
was first published in 1886,
although it had initially
been read in public as early
as 1882 to a group of far-
mers in Rishon le Zion who
received it enthusiastically.
Among them was Samuel
Cohen, who originally
hailed frpm Moldavia. He
set the Poem to a melody
based on a traditional
Moldavian-Romanian folk
song called Carul cu Boi
(Cart and Oxen).
Many changes were made
in the original text of the
poem over the years, and
these have been traced
through old song books,
memoirs and the like. First
of all, the title became
"HaTikva," then some
words were changed to suit
contemporary opinion, and
later' the old-fashioned
Ashkenazi syllable stress
was 'changed to the
Sephardi stress, used in
modern Hebrew today.


But whichever way it
was sung, "HaTikva"
was always inspiring. At
the conclusion of the
Sixth Zionist Congress in
Basle in 1903 there was
an enormously moving
singing of "HaTikva" by
all present. Since this was
the last Congress
presided over by
Theodor Herzl, it is clear
that Herzl did manage to
hear "HaTikva" before
his untimelyldeath in
The anthem was sung at
all subsequent Zionist Con-
gresses but not until the
18th Congress, held in
Prague in 1933, was it offi-
cially confirmed as the
Zionst anthem.

By 'that time Imber had
been dead for 24 years. He
had left Palestine in 1888 to
resume his world-wide
wanderings. He was always
poor and frequently in-
volved with Christian mis-
sionaries, so that even his
close friends wondered if he
had not converted to Chris-
tianity in order to escape
In 1892, the poet settled
in America, where he was
married for a brief time. He
did some serious work in the
U.S. His second volume of
poetry appeared in 1900, he
published a Hebrew trans-
lation of the Rubbaiyait of
Omar Khayyam and trans-'
lated into English some
his own poems and seve
tracts on talmudic litera
ture. •
In spite of these intel-
lectual achievements, he
found it impossible to
make a decent living, and
in 1909, in New York City,
he succumbed to a life of
squalor, misery and
His poem lived on, becom-
ing the unofficial anthem of
Jewish Palestine under the
British Mandate. And, at
the declaration of the state
of Israel' on May 14, 1948,
"HaTikva" was sung by the
assembly at its opening

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