If you show up to the military cemetery in Kfar Saba on Wednesday, you will see something very interesting. There will be two groups of people sitting together, looking nothing like one another. One group will be filled with people from Hebron and the religious communities of Jerusalem. The others will hails from secular kibbutzim and Ramat Aviv. One will have men with kippot; the other has men with body piercings. But that’s where the differences end. They will be sitting next to two graves, right next to each other. They will have called each other in advance to coordinate their visit, and they will embrace one another like brothers and sisters.
Moshe and Dudu were quite different people. Moshe spent his life in religious education, waiting to be old enough to vote for people to correct Rabin’s error. Dudu waited to vote to expand on Rabin’s legacy. Moshe spent every moment he could in solidarity with the people living in Judea and Samaria. Dudu wanted nothing to do with the occupying settlers. As you might guess, Dudu and Moshe had no mutual friends on Facebook. They had nothing in common. At least not until August 1999.
Both Moshe and Dudu had passed the gibbush (screening process) for the Paratroopers Brigade back in high school. In August 1999, both Moshe and Dudu went to the Tel Hashomer base near Tel Aviv to officially begin their mandatory IDF service. They were both placed in the 890th battalion within the Paratroopers Brigade, and for the first time, their paths crossed. Moshe and Dudu quickly hit it off. Both enjoyed playing sports, watching movies, and talking in general, whether on base or off, provided politics was avoided. Moshe and Dudu ended up doing commander’s training together, and later on, both ended up in officer training school. Unfortunately, Moshe was forced to leave officer’s training for extenuating circumstances, and returned to the Palchod Company in the 890th battalion, where he served as his platoon’s sergeant. Sure enough, when he finished officer’s training, Dudu was reunited with Moshe as the commander of the very same platoon in Palchod.
Fast forward to March 2002 and Operation Defensive Shield. Among the numerous combat units fighting to prevent further terror was the 890th battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade. In a daring mission during the intense fighting in Nablus, an entire platoon was sent into a house, where a baby was found. Desperate to save the baby, Dudu gave the order to use cover fire to protect the infant. Moshe led the surge. When he realized it was an ambush set up by Islamic Jihad terrorists, Moshe aborted the mission and tried to save his soldiers. He was mostly successful, and the majority of the platoon escaped. They ended up killing all but one of the terrorists, the last of whom was arrested three weeks later. There were only two Jewish casualties in the house that fateful night – Dudu and Moshe had both been killed.
Together in training and service, so too in death. In a moving eulogy, Colonol Aviv Kochavi, commander of the Paratroopers Brigade, spoke about the identical fire and passion of Zionism in both Moshe and Dudu.
How can it be that a leftist bum could be a Zionist? Aren’t his ideologies antithesis to the values of Zionism? How can it be that an extremist right-wing settler is a Zionist? He’s a revisionist, but surely not following in the footsteps of Zionism!
Memorial Day for IDF soldiers sheds light on this. It’s the one day of the year that has no left-wing or right-wing. The one day a year when National Union supporters sit together with Meretz supporters, and reminisce. Together they remember the joy and the pain. Together they built the State of Israel, and together they continue to build it. In Israel, everyone knows someone who was killed, hurt, or affected by terrorism or war. And Memorial Day is here to remember them. To recognize the sacrifices that people of all nationalities — Israeli Tzabarim, FSU immigrants, Anglos, Ethiopians, Jews, Druze, Bedouins (and the list goes on) — genders, political viewpoints, etc. made for our country. It’s the one day a year that knows no politics.
Knowing the story of Dudu and Moshe gives me hope that not all is lost. It’s scary to read the news and see the hatred each side reserves for the other. But their story is a story of hope. We have a common enemy who changes by the year. That enemy was once the Egyptians, and then the Babylonians, the Syrian-Greeks, the Romans, etc. Today, that enemy is anyone opposed to the Jewish State and the right of Jews to self-determination in our homeland. Dudu and Moshe recognized that, and made the ultimate sacrifice. Together. And for evermore, they are buried next to each other. And so, every year, as the siren goes off at 11:00 throughout the country, there will be families, from diametrically different origins, who look nothing like one another. But they will greet each other with hugs, smiles, kisses, and tears. They will stand holding hands during the siren. And they will talk and laugh together. Because on the inside, they are really the same.
Author’s note: While this account is based on real occurrences, names, burial places and other details were changed to protect the privacy of the families. “Moshe’s” younger brother and I are good friends, and the veracity of the story is accounted for. “Moshe” and “Dudu” were indeed killed in the same battle in Operation Defensive Shield and they are indeed buried next to each other.