Avraham Choen

Eliezer Cohen differentiated between war and hatred and human decency

Avraham Cohen’s father, Eliezer, was well-known in Jerusalem. His small newspaper kiosk on HaTurim Street catered to people from all over the neighborhood. In 1967 Avraham was 12 years old, and very aware of the tension and the threat hovering over Israel at the time. He and his friends would practice what they would do in the event that war broke out. Their fear made them hostile toward the Arabs in the city.

When the sirens began to wail, signaling that war had broken out, the neighborhood streets rapidly emptied of people. It seemed as if the worst fears of the waiting period were about to materialize. Avraham’s father gathered the family members in the hallway in the middle of their apartment for safety. Shots were heard everywhere, tanks tore the street with their treads, and a bombshell fell not far from their apartment.

Throughout the war newspapers were printed and delivered, bringing news from the different fronts. However, the local population remained shuttered in their houses and in bomb shelters, afraid to leave their homes to buy their newspaper at the Cohen family kiosk. Avraham’s grandfather, who emigrated from Iraq in 1927, took on the mission to update the people of his neighborhood. He would go out and collect the newspapers that arrived and then, while the battle was still raging, he would go to his customer’s homes and sell the papers and give out the special editions. In this way the entire neighborhood learned the news about the success of the IDF on all fronts.

In the days following the war, the Cohen family, like so many others, went to the Western Wall. When they got there they saw a solider coming out of one of the houses holding magnificent framed passages of the Quran. When the solider started to smash the frames, Avraham’s father reproached him for desecrating a holy object. Eliezer Cohen differentiated between war and hatred and human decency, a lesson he passed on to his son.