by Batsheva Sobelman | LATimesBlogs.LATimes.com | October 5, 2011
JERUSALEM -- Former Israeli lawmaker Hanan Porat, known for his role in founding the settlement movement, died of cancer Monday at age 67.
Porat (Pictured) served as a member of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for nearly 15 years. He
was an ordained rabbi, a teacher and an educator, but the religious Zionist leader was most
identified with the settlement movement.
He believed strongly in the Jewish people’s rights to the biblical Land of Israel and saw the
nation's military victories early in its history as a historic opportunity for action. Driven by
a fierce sense of mission, Porat became a force behind the move to settle Jews in the
newly seized lands.
As a young man, he fought in the Six-Day War of 1967 as a paratrooper. A few months later,
Porat would become "the first settler," as described by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar in their
book "Lords of the Land" about the history of the settlements, and the founder of a movement
that would impact the country, its landscape and policies for decades.
By the time Porat founded the Gush Emunim movement committed to Jewish settlement in 1974,
he had fought in another war, been injured, ordained and bitten by a messianic bug. Despite
trademark scruffiness and sandals, the young, charismatic leader became a familiar face in
government offices, promoting settlement, charming prime ministers -- and making facts on
the ground when charm failed.
Porat was driven by a deep sense of being on a national mission, his neighbor and lifelong
friend Yohanan Ben-Yakov told Israel radio. Ben-Yakov said he had known Porat for 65 years;
they had been raised in Kfar Etzion, the pre-state Jewish community that fell in 1948 and was
resettled after 1967, on Porat’s initiative.
After Israel and Egypt made peace in 1979, Porat formed a new party, Hathiya, to the right of Likud,
and became one of the most prominent religious politicians. Since retiring from politics more than
a decade ago, Porat has dedicated himself to teaching and a range of educational initiatives,
although he never stopped being one of the founding fathers of the settlement movement.
“Hanan Porat dedicated his life to building up the Land of Israel, and to educating generations
of students about religious Zionism and loving the Land of Israel and the Jewish People,”
eulogized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni acknowledged Porat's decades-long public work for Zionism and
education and said he will be missed by many members of the public, "those who supported him
as well as those who disagreed with his way."
Porat is survived by his wife, Rachel , four children and grandchildren. His funeral was Tuesday
in Kfar Etzion, in the West Bank.
Rav Porat: A Leader and a Visionary
Participants in Rav Hanan Porat's funeral: He was a leader, a visionary, a soul that you can only find once every few generations.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
“Hanan, in his own silent way, was a true leader,” said Rav Avi Berman, of OU . “A person that resembled and represented everything that we believe in.”
Science and Technology Minister Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz said that “it’s essentially impossible to describe Rav Hanan in a few words. He was everything: he was a leader, a visionary, he was a person who really showed the way to so many people.”
“He had a very rare combination of love to people, to the land and to the Torah,” Hershkowitz added. “He was a person who was on one hand very assertive but on the other hand very polite, very gentle, very sensitive.”
MK Ya’akov Katz (National Union) described Rav Porat as “a holy soul that you see only once every few generations. I think we lost one of the biggest souls we had in the Jewish nation.”