Cheryl Levi

For the Good of the Nation

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As Tzvika Mor made his way through the crowd of junior high school students in our auditorium, the whole room was immediately silenced. Tzvika had his gun strapped to his shoulder and a picture of his kidnapped son Eitan in his hand.  He came to my school that day to deliver a message.

Zvika, the father of eight children, lives with his family in Kiryat Arba.  Kiryat Arba is a city that has a large Arab populace and a small community of very idealistic Jews.  The Jews who live there must carry ammunition at all times to protect themselves from their aggressive neighbors.  Zvika describes the daily attacks of rocks being thrown at the cars of the Jews.  He explained that these are not pebbles.  These are large rocks that can and have killed Jews.  He and his family are willing to live this life of vulnerability in order to fulfill their nationalistic ideals.  Zvika is a true Zionist in every sense of the word, and that is how he raised his children.

On October 7th, his 23-year-old son, Eitan, was working as a security guard at the now infamous music festival.  When he recognized what was going on, he and his friend Elyakin immediately tried to save those they could.  They managed to get some people to safety, but when they saw two women who were shot, the group began to argue.  What should they do with the bodies?  Knowing that Hamas would probably steal the bodies, Eitan and his friend Elyakim decided to bury them.  They told the others to run away.  They would catch up, they said.  They buried one of the bodies in a hole and covered it up.  That body would later be discovered and buried by Israel.  That is the last thing we know of Eitan and Elyakim. After that incredibly unselfish deed, they were taken hostage by Hamas, and haven’t been heard from since.

Eitan’s father, Zvika has made the news because of his provocative views on what to do with our hostages. Most (but not all) of the families of the hostages have been protesting in the square in Tel Aviv and all over the country, demanding that the government do whatever it takes to bring their family members home. We hear stories daily about each individual hostage on TV, and these family members are interviewed by various news stations. Most Israelis seem to be on the side of the families of the hostages. But not Zvika.

Zvika and some of his friends belong to the Tikvah forum, which argues that the deals the government is making to bring the hostages home are not only dangerous for the country, but they are also dangerous for the hostages.  When the Palestinians see us crying every night for the government to do anything and everything to bring the hostages home, the price on the heads of the hostages increases dramatically.  They know Israel would do anything, and they up their demands, ultimately creating dangerous situations for Israel.  The Palestinians also begin to understand that hostage-taking is a valuable weapon that should be continued to be utilized in their fight.  According to Tzvika, “the release of all the hostages will lead to the next massive terrorist attack on Israel, just as the release of the 1,027 terrorists for  Gilad Shalit in 2011 led to this one.” In 2011, Israel traded over 1,000 terrorists for one soldier, including Yahya Sinwar, who is now the leader of Hamas in Gaza.  Since then, many other terrorists involved in this deal have been responsible for the deaths of other Israelis as well.  When you approach a deal with the attitude that you are willing to do anything it takes, it is defeatism according to Tzvika.  Israelis must never be defeatists.  We should always come out on top.

Zvika explained to the students that our ultimate value must be the safety and concerns of the nation.  “You have to think about the greater good and make sacrifices,”  Zvika explained that he can say this with certainty because he knows that his son Eitan would agree with every word.  In fact, Tzvika’s children told him that before going into Gaza, Eitan told them that if he was taken hostage, they should not allow the government to trade him for terrorists.  Zvika was not surprised to hear this because when he fought in Tzuk Eitan (the 2014 war in Gaza), he made the exact same request of his wife.  He said that he would not allow such an exchange.

Zvika explained that he felt no anger towards the families of the hostages who were demanding the release of their children.  His anger was really targeted at the media.  Why does the media need to focus on these stories, essentially creating this pressure on the government to do things that will ultimately harm the nation?  And why does the media need to show pictures of the soldiers that were murdered every day, which essentially provides the Arabs with information they did not have.  Ultimately, it is the media that is harming our nation.

Zvika emphasized how much he loves his son, and that he cries all the time when he thinks about him.  His views about hostage release do not express his relationship with his beloved son; They reflect his relationship with his beloved country.  And he raised his son to feel that same love of country.

It was a fascinating lecture that kept the entire auditorium spellbound.  It allowed us all a glimpse into another side of the hostage question that some of us might not have considered.  And it also allowed us a heartbreaking peek into the mind of a grieving father who is also passionately in love with his country.  Tzvika delivered his message perfectly that day.  It was a message that left me deep in thought.

When it was over, I saw groups of students discussing Tzvika’s speech.  I heard one student arguing that she agreed with him on some points. I’m sure that others disagreed.  But it didn’t matter to me whether they agreed with him or not.  What was important was that he got them thinking too.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.
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