Reservists hold vigil by Barak's home

Bereaved father tells 'Post' toppling of Olmert's coalition for country's benefit, not for revenge.

Einhorn 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Einhorn 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Yehonatan Einhorn, who died on the 19th day of the Second Lebanon War, loved hiking and had dreamed of doing the Israel National Trail and traveling to South America. "He will always remain 22," his bereaved father, David, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. The resignation or the removal of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert from office, "won't bring [Yehonatan] back," said Einhorn, who lives in Moshav Gamzu. Still, he has been demanding exactly that since the war's end - not in revenge for his son's death, but with an eye toward the future of a country that Yehonatan loved and sacrificed his life for. "If war broke out in Gaza tomorrow, do you think that Olmert could still be the one to command that war? This is the problem," said Einhorn, who has two sons in the army and two younger ones at home. Olmert has said that he has fixed problems outlined in the Winograd Committee's reports released thus far. "But Olmert himself is the problem," said Einhorn, who is part of a forum of bereaved parents who lost children in the Second Lebanon War. The final Winograd Report is due to be published at 6 p.m. Wednesday. When the report's conclusions are read, Einhorn plans to be sitting in a radio station and then in a television studio, to take his message to the public. But many other forum members, as well as an ad hoc campaign of grassroots groups - including two reservist organizations and members of Uzi Dayan's Tafnit party - plan to stage a demonstration late Wednesday afternoon by Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Tel Aviv home. They are calling on Barak to force Olmert's government to collapse by taking his Labor Party out of the coalition. Einhorn said that as someone who served in the army for 23 years and who was still in the reserves, he knew from firsthand experience in the Second Lebanon War that the decisions made by Olmert and then-defense minister Amir Peretz were problematic. "I saw it in the reserves," said Einhorn, who doesn't need the Winograd Report to come to his own conclusions. He hopes that the report's conclusions will force both Olmert and Barak to make responsible decisions and allow a change of government. "How can we send our children to an army headed by a person [Olmert] who is not ready to take responsibility?" said Einhorn. His son, Yehonatan, so loved Israel that when he was home from the army, he would grab his knapsack and head out for a hike every chance could get, recalled Einhorn. Since Yehonatan was never able to realize his dream of hiking the Israel National Trail, his friends did it in his memory, Einhorn said. He and his wife last saw Yehonatan after the battle of Bint Jbail, during which both his glasses and his cell phone broke. He went to Haifa to fix them. "We went there to meet him," said Einhorn. A day before his death, Yehonatan called. "He spoke with me and with his mother. He said three times, 'Mother, be healthy and strong.' She said, 'Why are you saying this?' He said, 'Mother, I'm telling you be healthy and strong.' Those were his last words," said Einhorn. On the day of his son's death, Einhorn was serving on reserve duty in the air force. He had been scheduled to head out that night on a flight, so he was at home in the afternoon. Around 1 p.m., a friend of his son's called from the hospital to say he was sorry to hear of Yehonatan's death. "When you live in this country you have to pay a 'tax.' We want one thing that tax that we paid won't be in vain," said Einhorn.