The Tremendous Power of Literature/Foreword from “Freedom”

Vered Cohen Barzilay 

A very famous Israeli poem, written by Shmuel Hasfari, called ‘The Children of Winter 1973’ describes the process by which the children who were conceived during the 1973 Yom Kippur War become disillusioned with the promises of the old generation of a peaceful future with no wars.

One line in the poem says: ‘You promised to do everything for us, to turn an enemy into a loved one’; it remained the echoing unfulfilled promise for the following generations. This poem became the pledge taken by one of Israel’s most loved prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by an Israeli citizen fourteen years ago. Rabin, who maintained for most of his public life the image of a handsome, brave and much admired soldier, decided to abandon the path of hate and dedicated his later years to keeping the promise ‘to turn an enemy into a loved one’. He used Hasfari’s poem as a source of inspiration, and in times of great grief allowed its words to fill him with the patience, strength and hope necessary to shed off the heavy armour of a warrior and wear the uniform of peace.

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