(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
As I boarded my flight back to Israel, I received a text message from my brother “Did you see that there was a deadly attack in Gush Etzion; the victim was Ari Fuld.” My knees buckled, my heart dropped and tears swelled up in my eyes. It cannot be, I thought to myself, and asked my brother to check again. It had to be a mistake.
My mind immediately flashed back to many years ago and the images of Ari and I during basic and advanced training together in the Golani Brigade: I as a relatively new oleh (immigrant) and Ari as a lone soldier. The normal trepidation felt among us new recruits somehow skipped over Ari. His motivation and confidence propelled him to seek out a MAG rifle and the challenges that accompany it. His idealism and ironclad beliefs were not only visible, but contagious.
The army brotherhood is something that accompanies soldiers for the rest of their lives, and we were no different. Ari and I returned to yeshiva together. A couple years down the road our paths diverged, but the deep bond from our joint service never waned.
One month ago, Ari Fuld was fatally stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist. With his dying breath, and before succumbing to his wounds, Ari found the strength and the bravery to pursue his murderer and neutralize him, directly preventing additional casualties. The video footage of Ari’s super human act cemented his allure in the annals of Israel’s men of valor.
Ari’s heroism reverberated throughout the country and resonated throughout the world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and a throng of ministers paid their respects to Ari and the Fuld family. Ari was dubbed the “Lion of Zion,” and was recently recommended to receive the Medal of Valor from the Government of Israel for his act of heroism.
Much has been said and written about Ari since that tragic day, with the word “hero” becoming thematic. While there is no doubt as to Ari’s designation as such, his legacy and lesson to us is much greater. Ari’s message and life was about Truth.Truth in Word
Ari was a warrior on the hasbara (public diplomacy) front, speaking truth against the lies and fabrications that plague Israel at every turn. While many of our spokespeople remain stuck in courtesies and political correctness, Ari did not flinch and did not falter in making the case for Israel in the most blunt and honest way. The adage of “speaking truth to power” epitomized Ari’s efforts. No matter the medium – be it social media, television or in person. Every means possible was maximized in Ari’s desire to affect change by fighting for truth. Ari lived by the famous words of former NY senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan – “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Truth in Deed
Ari did not just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Living with his wife Miriam and their beautiful children in the rolling Judean Hills, regularly visiting Hebron and Me’arat Hamachpelah (the Cave of the Patriarchs – literally “the double tombs”), Thursday nights in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, first to every incident: Ari was a man of action. Whether as a member of Efrat’s security-response team or as a devoted soldier who continued to serve in the IDF reserves, Ari put himself on the front lines. His work as a teacher and his philanthropic activity on behalf of Israel’s soldiers were just some of the public examples of how Ari’s truths were continuously transformed into actions. Ari was not a spectator, but rather an active participant in the plight and direction of the Jewish state and the Jewish people.Truth in his Beliefs
Many of us have beliefs and ideologies, but it is rare that we are completely faithful to them without bending or compromise. There was never any hesitation in Ari’s Jewish belief or in his unfettered convictions regarding the State of Israel. He was unabashed and unapologetic in stating that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and that the Torah is the source of this basic truth. The way he was perceived in the eyes of the public was not of concern to Ari; what drove him was his principles and being truthful to them.
A few years after my army service, I ran a summer sleep-away camp in Israel called Camp Ariel. I had the great honor of working with and becoming a student of Rabbi Yonah and Mary Fuld, Ari’s parents. Spending our summers together for five years, my admiration and love for the Fulds and their children ran very deep, as it does to this day. It was in camp that I first learned from Rabbi Fuld, in his explanation of the benching (grace) prayer after meals, the core virtues of our forefathers. He taught that the lesson we learn from Jacob, otherwise known as Israel, is truth. That core value of truth is a foundation of our existence as a nation and our greatest weapon in defending our land.
No one epitomized the value of truth or did more to promote it than Ari Fuld. As this first month since his tragic murder comes to a close, it is safe to say that the truth that Ari championed will not only live on, but will be fruitful and multiply.Ari Harow is a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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