By Uri Avnery
May 5, 2008
EVERY TIME I hear the voice of David Ben-Gurion uttering the words “Therefore we are gathered here…” I think of Issar Barsky, a charming youngster, the little brother of a girl-friend of mine.
The last time we met was in front of the dining hall of Kibbutz Hulda, on Friday, May 14, 1948.
In the coming night my company was to attack al-Qubab, an Arab village on the road to Jerusalem, east of Ramle. We were busy with preparations. I was cleaning my Czech-made rifle, when somebody came and told us that Ben-Gurion was just making a speech about the founding of the state.
Frankly, none of us was very interested in speeches by politicians in Tel Aviv. The city seemed so far away. The state, we knew, was here with us. If the Arabs were to win, there would be no state and no us. If we won, there would be a state. We were young and self-confident, and did not doubt for a moment that we would win.
But there was one detail that I was really curious about: what was the new state to be called? Judea? Zion? The Jewish State?
So I hastened to the dining hall. Ben-Gurion’s unmistakable voice was blaring from the radio. When he reached the words “…namely the State of Israel” I had had enough and left.
Outside I came across Issar. He was in another company, which was to attack another village that night. I told him about the name of the state and said “take care of yourself!”
Some days later he was killed. So I remember him as he was then: a boy of 19, a smiling, tall Sabra full of joie de vivre and innocence.
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