First Publish: 11/30/2010, 9:21 PM / Last Update: 12/1/2010, 1:18 AM
Despite his many military achievements, Raful’s greatest legacy was not on the battlefield, Peled said. Rather, his most impressive contribution to Israel remains “Raful Youth” – the young men on the verge of dropping out of Israeli society who are conscripted and rehabilitated in a program Eitan initiated.
The project integrates into regular army service young men from troubled neighborhoods and those who have dropped out of school. It has served as a life raft for troubled youth, Peled said.
“The ‘Raful Youth’ project is his greatest act. This is the most ideologically significant project he added to Israel’s short history. He said in his time that the country owes these young men, and he gave them one last chance,” he recalled.
In recent years Peled has joined the project, by helping graduates of the Raful Youthprogram to find work after completing their army service. He expressed admiration for the commanders who lead the troops, “The values and the teachings that these commanders imbue their students with are more valuable than gold,” he said.
Alongside the lessons the young soldiers are taught about Israeli and Jewish heritage, they now learn about General Rafael Eitan.
Eitan was born in Afula in 1929. He fought in the Independence War, served as a commander during the Sinai War and the Six Day War, and was a division commander during the Yom Kippur War. During the latter war his troops stopped the Syrian invasion of the Golan.
He later served as Chief of Staff. After retiring from the military in 1983, he became an MK with the Tehiya party, and later founded his own party, the secular nationalist Tzomet.
He died in 2004 when he was swept by a wave from a breakwater in Ashdod as he surveyed storm damage to a project.
This Story was read from the following book
A Voice Called- Stories of Jewish Heroism