About 19 years ago, Rabbi Menachem Froman called me and told me that he had put out a book of poetry, mostly love songs to the Golan Heights. At the time, I was the spokesperson for the Golan Settlement Committee.
"I am giving you permission to use [the book] in any way you can to help with our struggle for the Golan, to the best of your understanding," Froman told me.
The next day, "A Man of the Land," arrived at my office. Froman's poems were accompanied by beautiful black and white illustrations drawn by his wife, Hadassah. The poems were songs of love; the images were images of love. They expressed love for God, love for man, love for country and love for the Golan Heights. They were beautiful and deep poems.
What would I do with them as speaker of the struggle? Poetry is not a catchy slogan or a convincing political or ideological argument. But poetry feeds the soul, strengthens the spirit and the person. So I published several of the poems in the Golan Heights Newspaper, to bring a breeze of faith and love into the sails of our struggle.
Here is one of the poems:
On the shores of the Yehudiyah River
A spider weaves a delicate web
Under the strong waters of the falls
Under the broken basalt rock
Under the scattered iron tank remnants
In the days of the terrible wars that passed
The white clouds remain in the blue sky above.
This is seemingly a love song to nature in general. But Froman chose the title Blue-White: the white clouds on the blue sky above represent the eternal one above that is beyond time. These are not just the colors of nature: they represent our claim to the Golan Heights. Love for the Golan is not just passion for beautiful nature, but also love of country.
"What are you doing publishing this Hamasnik?!" I was scolded in an angry phone call from a Golan Heights resident at the time. I was insulted in Froman's name, but he was not offended. The more people mocked him, the more he smiled his sly smile, like Elifelet in Natan Alterman's poem.
And why did the man on the phone call Froman a Hamasnik? Because Froman, the rabbi of the Tekoa settlement, a poet who wrote about love for country and who wanted his poetry to serve the Golan Heights struggle, met with Muslim religious leaders in the Palestinian community, including Hamas' spiritual leaders, in order to talk with them about peace. Froman saw no hint of contradiction in his actions, and just as he was an activist in the fight against uprooting Gush Katif, at the same time he conducted his discussions with the Palestinians. He believed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a religious conflict, and it could be resolved in discussions between religious leaders from both sides. We are all sons of Abraham in the end, Froman believed, and we all believe in eternal peace in our vision of the future.
Fromam was innocent in the sense of naive, but also in the sense of a perfect illusion. The kind of peace he dreamed of was a complete peace, containing everyone and everything. He and his dream were completely unrealistic; he confronted the reality of our daily lives with visions of the end of days, a vision worth pining for.
"The light in his heart blinded him," Moshe Dayan said in his eulogy to Roee Rothberg, an innocent boy and a pursuer of peace who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists. I remembered this line often when I saw Froman, with the light in his heart beaming from his eyes and face. He did not always agree to face facts, but he was among a chosen few who see Or Haganuz (the secret light), through which one is able to see from one edge of the world to another.
May his memory be a blessing.