Letters to the Editor
Your readers may have read that Uzi Narkiss died this week in Jerusalem. Not many knew of this man. He was not in the public eye in the way Rabin or Moshe Dayan were. The three of them walked into the Old City in Jerusalem in June of 1967 for the photographers. Dyan and Rabin were ahead of Narkiss in rank, as Narkiss commanded only the Central Command. Most of the fighting was going on in the South and North. Rabin and Dayan had aspirations in politics, Narkiss did not. He had a job to do and he did it.
Jerusalem was being shelled by the Jordanians but none of the "leaders" wanted to create additional problems over Jerusalem and especially the sensitive Old City. Narkiss was adamant in insisting that the Jews liberate the Old City and unify Jerusalem. Later they would say that his nagging on this point finally convinced them to follow his plan. His plan, which one can read in his book "The Liberation of Jerusalem" was carried out like a chess master at his game. He had hiked the hills and wadis of the area and knew it as well as anyone. The various groups that made up his forces were handled as if a master juggler was keeping a dozen balls in the air at once.
For 2,000 years Jews had to suffer the humiliation of defeat and exile brought on by the destruction of their temple. When they were able to return to it, it was almost always in humiliation to "wail" at the side of the Temple wall. This ended because of Uzi Narkiss.
When the "spies", the princes of Jewish tribes, returned to Moses to give their report, only Joshua and Caleb thought they could succeed in securing their land. This is the tradition Narkiss followed. This is the man he was.
He was a small man physically but a giant in Jewish history. Jews for generations to come will thank him for being allowed to visit the site of their Temple, at the Western Wall.
He was a modest man and shied from the public forum. He told me he did not go into politics because he would always be doing the bidding of others. He wanted to be his own man. As often happens, we learn who was behind events long after they happen. Uzi Narkiss was behind the unification of Jerusalem and the ability of Jews to enter the Old City.
It has been an infinite honor to have known him. His death is a great personal loss to me. I doubt I will ever meet another historical figure who will have done so much for his exiled people.
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