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“Yoni loathed war and fighting. To kill horrified him… Because he had to fight to save his nation’s life, he made himself into a great fighting man. But he knew, as all men of sense know, that war today is an empty and dangerous lunacy, not a practical political technique. He was philosopher enough to understand this truth… and he was man enough to know… that if he had to, he would die fighting for the Return and for peace. So consecrated, he flew off to Entebbe, and to his great hour.

Like one of Michelangelo’s unfinished sketches in stone, his letters are a work of rough suggestive art. The mysterious figure only half-emerges from the native rock. And yet the figure is there. When we close the book, we know nothing of Yoni’s secret exploits, little of his magic with women, little of his terrific labors in his army assignments, little of his intense family relationships. Yet we know the man; all we have to know, and all we will know. He inspires and ennobles us, and he gives us hope. That is enough. That is the best art can do.

Shelley wrote of the dead Keats that his soul

… like a star
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

I wanted to close this introduction by applying those words to Yoni. But I cannot. I see him in my mind’s eye shaking his head, with a grin and a deprecatory farewell wave. And I hear his last words, like a distant marching song on the wind, יהיה בסדר — ‘It’ll be okay.'”


The closing to Herman Wouk’s introduction to The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu.