Tuesday, May 10, 2005

יום הזיכרון : Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day for Israel's fallen soldiers. I attended a university ceremony in honor of the dead, and on a small black board was the name of a student who was killed three weeks ago on reserve duty. He was younger than my little brother. Israeli writer Amos Oz once scoffed at a slogan the Irgun had scrawled across a wall near his childhood home in Jerusalem: "In blood and fire did Judea fall, in blood and fire will Judea rise again". Oz saw it as shallow militarism; I do not. I see it as a fatalistic acceptance of the destiny of the Jewish people in the modern world. We are condemned, by history or by fate, I don't know, to face blood and fire, and to steel ourselves to face it. From the moment we rose up against the world to claim the right granted to every other people throughout history, to claim our rights as human beings, in this hour and this time, not in some far off Messianic era, but now, we accepted that ferocious destiny. The moment that any Jew rises up for himself as himself; this is to be the dark recompense with which he must make peace. So be it. I leave myself with two comforts, the first from the pen of Chaim Potok, the second, Israeli poet Amir Gilboa.
What a price we have paid for that land: seven thousand killed in the War of Independence; another thousand killed in the 1956 Sinai campaign and the Six Day War; three thousand killed in the October 1973 war; hundreds killed by terrorist raids. We offer ourselves grim consolation: all the wars have cost us less than three days at Auschwitz.

-Chaim Potok, "Wanderings"
ואחי שותק
מאת אמיר גילבוע

אחי חזר מין השדה
בבגד אפור
ואני חששתי שמא חלומי יתבדה
והתחלתי מיד את פצעיו לספר
ואחי שותק

אחר חטטתי בכיסי הסגין
ומצאתי אספלנית שיבש כתמה
ובגלויה שחוקה את שמה
תחת לציור של פרגים
ואחי שותק

אז התרתי את הצרור
והוצאתי חפציו, זכר אחר זכר
הידד, אחי, אחי הגיבור
הינה מצאתי אותותיך
הידד, אחי, אחי הגיבור
אשיר גאוה לשמך
ואחי שותק
ואחי שותק

ודמו מן האדמה זועק

And My Brother is Silent
by Amir Gilboa

My brother returned from the field
In gray clothes
And I feared that what I dreamed was false
And I began at once to count his wounds
And my brother is silent

Then I rummaged in the pockets of the jacket
And found a field bandage, stained and dry
And on a fraying postcard, her name
Under a drawing of poppies
And my brother is silent

So I undid the pack
And removed his things, memory after memory
Hoorah my brother! My brother the hero!
Here I found your medals!
Hoorah my brother! My brother the hero!
I will sing proudly your name!
And my brother is silent
And my brother is silent

And his blood cries out from the ground

May the memory of the fallen be blessed. And may he who makes peace on his heights, make peace upon us all.