Tsafrir Ronen z"l
1955 to 2008
by Ted Belman
publisher of Israpundit
I recently posted an article by Mordechai Kedar about the work of Tsafrir Ronen titled the Killing Tsafrir Ronen again.
My friend Jerry Gordon who used to blog with me on Israpundit and now blogs at the New English Review, wrote a touching piece in memory of Tszfrir Ronen. I might add that Tszfrir was also a friend of mine. I worked with him on creating his television channel and on the One State Plan that he developed with another friend Michael Wise. In 2008 I published Hadrian’s Curse: The Secret All The Arabs Know (Part I) by him.
The late Tsafrir Ronen was a personal friend. He was dynamic; in many ways a chalutz. In a 2006 Israpundit interview with Ronen, we called him “a man on a mission – to save Israel from itself“. After all he was a former Sayeret Matkal officer. Watch this interview with Eve Harrow of INR a few months before his untimely death when he spoke about The Curse of Hadrian film project. Tsafrir was personally courageous and we joked about his emphasizing that he was secular and a man of the left originally.
By his actions he had moved to the right and vigorously defended the settler movement. His Nahalal Foundation was an effort to heal the wounds from the unilateral disengagement from Gush Katif. I recall vividly meeting and interviewing him on his trips to New York. Especially abiding was his organization of treks of generations of thousands of both secular and religious Jews returning to the ruined settlement of Homesh in the Shomron. View this PowerPoint presentation on The Return to Homesh we prepared for him to use here in the US in 2007.
Our mutual friend Doris Wise of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Los Angeles (CJHSLA), and I shared a tearful moment on the phone about a year ago recalling him and what many thought was the loss of his important message. His sudden death at so young an age, 53 years, came before he could realize his dreams of annexation of the Shomron and Judea and creation of an Israeli satellite TV version of the Discovery channel. Not having seenThe Curse of Hadrian that Mordechai Kedar commented in Arutz Sheva, perhaps my chaver Ted Belman of Israpundit can.
Watch this Video of Ronen's Presentation in February 2008 sponsored by CJHSLA:
But I can appreciate that the Israel Broadcasting Authority which bought the rights to the production from his widow might have exercised editorial license that may not have expressed the message and ethos of Ronen’s Land of Israel movement. Perhaps in many ways, his spirit lives on in the program of Habayit Hayehudi under the dynamic leadership of Naftali Bennett, another Sayeret Matkal, alum. Bennett certainly lambasted Shtadtlan, former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, Secretary State Kerry’s failed peace negotiator in this recorded debate at the Brookings Institution Saban Forum this weekend. Watch here. If the two had connected then perhaps the funds might have been available for an independent production of The Curse of Hadrian that might have closely followed Tasfrir’s message. That and the Israeli satellite TV channel broadcasting the emet, "the truth", about The Land Of Israel.
A great Slavist and lively teacher, originally from Israel, Omry Ronen, taught for decades at the University of Wisconsin and died a few years ago. Was he a relative? Perhaps Ronen is not unusual, and I have merely revealed my lack of familiarity with Israeli last names.
Mr. Ronen was a real campaigner for the integrity of the state of Israel. I recall watching in horror as Israeli troops forcibly removed citizens from their own homes and asked myself how and why a government could expel its own citizens and let the enemy move in. To add insult to injury, many Israeli, American, and PLO politicians basked in the glory of their Nobel Prizes for their