My name is Achlas Ashtaya and I live in the village of Salem in the Nablus District
Gili Meisler - "Giora"
The Yom Kippur War robbed the country of its innocence and took Giora from us. Without proving it had taken him… On November 11, 1973, after five weeks without a word, Giora was declared missing. With him, hundreds more IDF soldiers were considered missing. Days of anticipation, nights of dread, months of wavering between hope and despair.
The story of Giora’s mysterious disappearance and what happened to me as a result, years later, in the Far East, I made into a documentary called “Fireflies” (2009) – to the Film’s Website. Another documentary that I made is called “Fractures” (2017). It’s about how my brother Giora’s buddies and peers experienced the Yom Kippur War. You can watch the film here.
My father, David Meisler, began writing a journal chronicling Giora’s disappearance 11 days after the war broke out and after receiving not a fragment of information on Giora’s whereabouts. It seems that the decision to document his actions was an unconscious form of survival for him. The only way to introduce some order into the exasperating disorder. Bits of information grew into rows over an entire page, one page joined the other and as time went by, the lone pages turned into a notebook. When one was filled, another was opened. My father didn’t intend for his meticulous documentation to become a sizable journal. Who would believe the search for his son over hundreds of pages? Thus, for example, my father wrote on May 18, 1974: “Today is Giora’s birthday. I continued making an order in my papers”. What better way to express the inner chaos hungering for some sense of logic?
I uploaded the journal charting the search for Giora as a website.
In recent years I am manager of the Forum’s new media and communications. I seek to use my personal story to create discourse and reconciliation. On Memorial Day, 2019 I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Jewish community event in Milwaukee, USA. The ceremony was dedicated to the missing and I was asked by the organizers to convey what happened to myself and my family after my brother Giora went missing. The event was very moving and special. My speech, in English, was filmed and is attached here:
Watch the Video