Segev Tom - 1967

Author : Segev Tom
Title : 1967 Israel, the war, and the year that transformed the Middle East
Year : 2005

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Introduction. Heroes. 1. YEHIAM. On June 5, 1966, in the evening hours, Yosef Weitz lit two candles in memory of his son, Yehiam, on the twentieth anniversary of his death. Weitz, who was seventy-six at the time, was the head forester for the Jewish National Fund (JNF), one of the Zionist movement’s institutions, concerned with the acquisition of public land. He had lived in the land of Israel for close to sixty years, during which time the JNF had planted millions of trees. Weitz had come from Russia at the age of eighteen; he began his life in Palestine as an agricultural laborer and was promoted over the years until he became one of the directors of the JNF. He was also involved in planning new communities and was considered a founding father of the Israeli state. In his old age, he wrote children’s stories. Sitting by the memorial candles, Weitz looked through old letters from his son; his Yehiam, he wrote in his diary, gazed down at him from a photograph on the wall, smiling sadly. Yehiam received his name in the midst of a flurry of war and hope. He was born in October 1918 in one of the first Zionist agricultural settlements, Yavnel, in the Lower Galilee. The army of the British general Edmund Allenby was in the final stages of occupying Turkish-ruled Palestine; his mounted soldiers reached the Yavnel area on the night of Yehiam’s birth. Eight days later, on the day of Yehiam’s circumcision and naming, Yosef Weitz first heard about the statement issued by the British foreign secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, proclaiming support for the Zionist movement’s aspirations to build a “national home” in Palestine, a Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration had been issued some ten months earlier, but the Lower Galilee was still under Turkish rule at the time and had no contact with the British-occupied areas. ...

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