Monday, August 14, 2006

A letter addressed to the author David Grossman

By Yael Israel

Dear David!

We never met in person. Once, and now it seems it was ages ago, I interviewed you over the phone. That's all! But when I head about the death of your son, Uri, in the last days of the Lebanon War, I was struck as if I lost a dear friend. Please accept my condolences for his death. I want you to know that I share your endless pain. Yesterday you and your family members have become members of our endless, tragic, inconceivable Israeli bereaved family. This teaches us again that death does not skip over any of the houses in Israel, whether right or left, whether warmonger or war opponent.

At the beginning of the war I was in a state of a shock. As the days went by, I still felt as though I'm in a nightmare. As the war continued, I felt so mad, much more than in our previous wars. And now, when all is left for us to do is to count the dead, the wounded, the cripples and the devastating results of the destruction; when your dear son, Uri, has joined the growing number of deaths that our nation has counted in the last few days, just a moment before the cease-fire begins, I am at a loss of words, as words cannot begin to describe my pain. As I am writing this, my tears are running down.

I do not know any of the people who died in this damn unnecessary war, I didn’t know your son Uri, but I feel that I lost my own children, my own flesh and blood - young and old, citizens and soldiers, women, men, children and babies, Arabs and Jews. I dread getting up next morning, after the cease-fire have begun, when the counting of graves begins. I dread seeing the horrible destruction, and I wonder, who will take care of the wounded, the crippled, and the people who lost their homes, in a country led by a government that abandoned us all during the war.


Anonymous Myrna said...

Yael, tears were in my eyes as I read your post. Some of my family and friends are in Tel Aviv area and I have heard similar words from them.

Your writing is quintesential in words and expression of your deep feelings. I would love to post what you wrote on my blog. I will give you full credit with a link back to this blog.

This Israeli Women's blog never ceases to amaze me.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Yael Israel said...

Hi Myrna, I was moved by your comment on my post. Thanks. Yes, go ahead and post in on your blog. Yael Israel

8:43 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

Dear Yael Israel:

My heart goes out to you and those near to you. I hope that you are safe and I pray (maybe naively) that the new ceasefire will lead to a lasting peace.

There has been entirely too much suffering in the Holy Land. I’ve been reading both Lebanese as well as Israeli blogs, and while few things seem clear, the anxiety and grief of the people streams from my computer screen like so many tears.

Three years ago a woman that I knew and admired very much was killed in Rafah, Gaza Strip. Her name was Rachel Corrie. Rachel was very young, but even in her short years she made a great impact on Olympia, my hometown. She was a student at Evergreen, a labor union activist, and a mental health social worker.

The night after she was killed, one of Rachel’s clients spoke at her memorial service. The poor man shuffled his feet, looked at the floor, and wept. Speaking to an audience of 500 grieving people, he told us how Rachel took him and other members of his support group on local field trips, and how she would joke that they were going to Hawaii rather than just down to the farmers’ market. He loved her, as did all of her clients.

One of my closest friends, Will Hewitt, was in Rafah with Rachel when she died. When he returned home, he was different than I had remembered him. His work in Rafah, and his presence at Rachel’s side, made him a bit of a local celebrity when he returned, and I remember having to get through a crowd of people to see his face and know for sure that he was safe. In spite of his newfound popularity, in spite of the crowds of people who came to see him speak, Will was deeply hurt by all that he had experienced. He cried frequently. He became even more quiet and shy than he had been before. Sometimes it was difficult to talk to him, because I could tell that there was a torrent of thoughts and emotions behind his quiet eyes, and I didn’t know what to say. We got used to spending time together without speaking.

As I’ve been reading the posts on your site, and seeing all the confusion, anxiety, and dismay, I am reminded of something Rachel wrote in her journal: “I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop.” Rachel will never again dance to Pat Benatar, and she left a wake of grieving friends. But now without pointing fingers or spreading hatred, we in Olympia have the words to say, as she did, “I want this to stop.” This seems to me to be the quintessence of your message as well: Please let this madness stop.

It is hard to see a solution to all that is happening. Even if a solution was fully evident, it is hard to imagine our politicians grasping it. Politicians think and speak in terms of politics and policies. But our experiences are personal rather than political. And it is so rare to hear the personal voices of the people impacted by violence in our polarized, political world.

I publish a small, faith-based newspaper in Olympia, called the Canaanite’s Call. The mission of the paper is to humanize people who have been dehumanized, to offer dignity to the marginalized, to advocate for direct personal responsibility for community problems, and to advocate for reconciliation and love between all people. The paper has a circulation of 1,000 copies and is printed every two months. I would like very much to have your voices -your personal thoughts, reflections, and stories- published in my paper.

May I publish your “Memories of Another Shelter” post? I would also like to publish “The Margins of the Home Front” by Carmel, and “A Panther Wouldn’t know What Scruples Mean” by Keren. I will gladly reference your blog site in the paper.

If you would like to have your writing published in the Canaanite’s Call, but would prefer to submit a different post or new material, I would rather print what you want published than my own pick. It only seems appropriate.

Thank you for posting this blog. More people need to hear what you have to say. May God’s peace be with you.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Myrna said...

Yael, I am honored to add your post to my blog. Please come and visit.

Warmest wishes and thoughts,

6:41 AM  

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