By Sarah Honig
The Jerusalem Post - May 11, 2005
Yad Mordechai, Nitzanim, Kfar Etzion and Kfar Darom share much in common. All were lost to invading Arab forces during the vicious existential war imposed on the newborn Jewish state in 1948. All were eventually won back, all resettled and reclaimed from the utter ruin to which unbridled hate reduced them.
The first to fall, and perhaps the most emotively remembered, was Kfar Etzion on the Jerusalem-Hebron road. Its area was purchased by Jews in 1927, but the small settlement founded there was devastated in the 1929 murderous Arab pogroms, which also eradicated Hebron's ancient Jewish community. The settlement was resurrected in 1932 and named Kfar Etzion for the orange grower who owned the holding. It was redestroyed in the bloody Arab insurgency of 1936. The JNF restored it in 1943, when it became a religious (Hapoel Hamizrahi) kibbutz.
Kfar Etzion was defeated on May 14 - the day Israel declared its independence. Its captured defenders were cold-bloodedly massacred.
Next in the tragic chronology came Yad Mordechai, bordering the edge of today's Gaza Strip and named after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising's heroic leader. The Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz straddled the strategic invasion route by which the Egyptian army strove to penetrate all the way to Tel Aviv. It was, therefore, pounded with the full might and ferocity of the Egyptian army.
A small besieged band with scant light weaponry held back tanks, artillery and infantry regiments, but finally, on May 23, after a six-day battle in which 24 defenders were killed, Yad Mordechai was overwhelmed. Its survivors escaped under the cover of darkness.
The story of more northerly Nitzanim is similar. Founded by Haoved Hatzioni on JNF land, it too took the brunt of Egyptian attacks. Again it was persevering resistance of the few against the many until the Egyptians overpowered the defenders, on June 8. There were casualties, POWs, MIAs, atrocities, sadistically mutilated corpses and gang rapes.
KFAR DAROM held out the longest, but its plight was identical and every bit as hopeless.
Its western Negev plot was acquired by citrus farmer Tuvia Miller in 1930. His groves were ravaged repeatedly during the 1936-39 Arab riots. In 1945 the JNF bought him out and Kfar Darom was established as another Hapoel Hamizrahi kibbutz. It was named after a talmudic-period village in the vicinity.
Kfar Darom too constituted an obstacle on the Egyptian penetration path into the coastal plain, inviting brutal battering and interminable shelling.
A major offensive on May 10 was thwarted at close range by besieged pioneers, none of whom emerged unhurt. Seventy Arab dead were left behind and Kfar Darom's incredible stand became legend. A relief convoy, which barely broke through on May 15, only made things worse. Its men, many of them injured, were entrapped in the blockaded kibbutz as well, and the few provisions left now had to stretch further. Nevertheless - outnumbered, hungry, thirsty and bleeding - the defenders foiled another large-scale Egyptian onslaught that very day.
Kfar Darom hung on by sheer grit for several more months. There was no way to remove the wounded, relieve any beleaguered fighters, deliver ammunition or replenish severely dwindling supplies.
Attempts to parachute food in failed. Another rescue convoy was ambushed and managed to sneak out only eight days later with some walking-wounded and women. Before sunrise on July 8 the remaining defenders clandestinely retreated along with stretcher-borne wounded, their few guns and two Torah scrolls.
There was an epilogue, however.
Six months after Yad Mordechai and Nitzanim fell, the IDF liberated them.
The same happened to Kfar Etzion and Kfar Darom - but after a 19-year delay.
The Six Day War returned both to Jewish hands.
All four once-lost settlements were lovingly revived. Nobody nowadays would imagine ceding Yad Mordechai or Nitzanim. Their earlier liberation placed them within the Green Line. For now, the vast majority of Israelis consider it sacrilege to even suggest giving up Kfar Etzion. Its bloodletting and courage are still part of our fading national lore.
But phoenix-like Kfar Darom - twice destroyed and twice arisen from its ashes - is about to be surrendered. It isn't because of battlefield disasters but because an uncoerced Israeli government decided to unilaterally sacrifice it. That's all that differentiates Kfar Darom from Kfar Etzion (also liberated from Arab occupation in 1967), or from Yad Mordechai and Nitzanim (fellow victims of genocidal Egyptian aggression).
What will the sacrifice of Kfar Darom prove? Only that trendy defeatist dogma considers Jewish losses irretrievable, while Arab losses are inherently reversible and mandate a return to square one.
Jews are portable. They can never legitimately regain territory forcibly wrested from them. If they do, they'll be branded unlawful occupiers. This is something for all the good folks in Yad Mordechai, Nitzanim and Kfar Etzion to lose sleep over.