how could you?

  1. 413 Posts.
    How Could You?
    by Isaac Kohn
    Nov 18, '04

    [Note: The following is intended as creative commentary only. The author was not a direct victim of terrorism in Israel.]

    UN Secretary General, the anti-Semite, Kofi Anan, ordered the organization's flag to be lowered to half mast - in honor of him. Former US President, peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, heaped praise and accolades. Jacques Chirac, of French fries and cowardice, accorded him the honor and respect fit for kings. World leaders fell over themselves as each tried to out praise the murderer whom the devil finally took. The Pope attributed gallantry and courage to a man for whom the label 'scourge of the earth' was a much more appropriate title. Even President Bush, upon hearing the original, premature report of the murderer's demise, bid him "G-d bless his soul" - a rather divine farewell for one whom even hell will refuse entry.

    But all that matters not.

    I don't know your names. I don't know where you were born, grew up or where you reside. In fact, I don't really care. So why do I write? Because the pain you caused sears deeper than the shrapnel that ripped through my little brother's body as he and I were sitting peacefully on the bus in Jerusalem. Or was it in Tel-Aviv? Perhaps in Ariel? Or Be'er Sheva? I don't really remember. The explosion that wrecked our lives on that fateful day destroyed much of my memory of that bloody episode. Some vivid, some fuzzy recollections of when it happened and much of the aftermath of the carnage sit on my mind like a blood-soaked sponge, though my blind right eye and shattered right hand are eternal reminders of that hate-filled day.

    But how... how could you?

    I woke up. Where was I? Something thick and gooey was covering my face. A throbbing pain hammered through my head, my hands and my entire body. My face felt on fire, my hand (what was left of it, I discovered much later) was pounding with excruciating pain. I felt a soft hand caressing my head; a ZAKA angel lifted me up, gently.

    When I woke up, my mother was standing near my hospital bed smiling at me. Why were there tears rolling down her cheeks?

    "Where is Aryeh?" I whispered.

    My little four-year-old brother, I recalled, was sitting on my lap (we gave his seat to an elderly woman with a cane). My mother remained silent. Immediately, I knew.

    But how... how could you?

    I survived. G-d gave my doctors all of the knowledge they needed in order to extract the rest of the shrapnel from my body (eleven pieces!) and I was released after six weeks. Released to a new reality. A one-eyed, one-handed life. A life without the little brother I loved so dearly. Released to a life of restless days and nights filled with nightmares. Many nights, still, I wake up in a cold, soaking sweat, screaming, screeching and inconsolable.

    But how... how could you?

    The man second only to Hitler in his desire to eradicate the Jews has finally departed this world, leaving behind a legacy of murder and a never-ending trail of spilled Jewish blood. He went to his grave too late for my brother, too late for thousands of others. His blood-drenched hands will no longer hold the poison of hate, his murderous grin forever wiped off the face of the earth. I know that even hell will never accept him.

    But how... how could you?

    I don't know your names. I don't know where you were born, grew up or where you reside. In fact, I don't really care. But with my one good eye I saw your pictures. Dressed in Shabbos finery, crowned with the shtreimel, clad in your long, silky beketches, you stood in morose silence and contemplation uttering a prayer to G-d on his behalf. You stood there with the Arab shawl and Palestinian emblem draped across your necks. And you prayed. You prayed for the well-being of the Mal'ach Hamoves! You beseeched the Almighty to send him a speedy recovery and you uttered words of tefilah for his complete and quick recovery. How... how could you?

    I stared at your pictures for a very long time. Silently. My one good eye roamed back and forth across the pictures, my mind refusing to believe. My own flesh and blood, my brothers, are extending both physical and spiritual solidarity with the devil whose orders extinguished my little brother's life and destroyed, forever, the life my family knew. How... how could you?

    I don't remember any of you at my bedside. You didn't take the time to come, did you? I don't recall seeing your pictures in front of the Kotel, praying for the speedy recovery of all those maimed by your compatriot. I don't recall hearing that you prayed the Kel Moleh Rachamim for those he murdered. Not one of you, I am told, has bothered to attend my family's shiva. Too busy, perhaps? I can understand. But how... how could you?

    There aren't enough words to describe what I feel. It's not anger, it's not fury. There are no words to describe the humiliation, disgust and above all, the unbearable pain. Those pictures will never disappear from my mind. They will never fade into the recesses of the subconscious. They stand in stark contrast to the spinal-cord of our religion. "Love your brother as you love yourself" is for you, it seems, but a minor asterisk in the total context of Judaism.

    I can't write anymore. There is nothing left to say. I must end here, now.

    You see, my blind eye, the one torn out by your compatriot's orders, is suddenly beginning to tear.

    "Kol demei achicha tzoakim elay...." ("Your brothers' blood is screaming to me....")

    How... how could you?

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