I never met Dorothy Naor in person. I am on her newprofile group’s mailing list. More often than not I find myself in full agreement with her views. Reading this piece this morning brought tears to my eyes. But it made me angry for a different reason as well. Angry not only with the generals who are behind this but also with the likes of Netanyahu who assume without asking me that I, as a Palestinian, would want to do this to Israeli mothers if not to all Jewish mothers. And with that assumption he and his generals continue to cause more Palestinian and Israeli mothers to wake up crying. Here is the full email from Dorothy Naor:
“Memorial Day for those Israelis killed in wars and violence always brings me to reread Manuela Driri’s experience with the loss of her son. I think she speaks for many bereaved mothers, and says it so well, and so painfully. So I share it with you again. This is what Memorial Day means to me. Indeed, rather than having a day to honor those who died in the supposed service of their country, we must make those who control our fate to stop killing our children by making Israel live by the sword.
By Manuela Dviri published in Zmin Hasharon on Friday, January 31, 2003
[translated from Hebrew by Monique Neumark]
I woke up crying. He asked me why and I said I did not know, that maybe it was because of Yoni, because five years ago he died and were he alive now, he would have been 25 years old. And each day that passes--I said to him--he dies a little more for me: more finally, more totally, more eternally and he remains more and more a twenty year old boy, handsome like my father, kind and charming like his father, intelligent like his brother and sister and absent –minded just like me, above all just at a twenty year old boy who does silly things: paints his room hair-raising blue and whose socks have the disgusting smell of soldier’s boots. A boy at times a little foolish, who is crazy about Miri and ran off from his sister Michal’s engagement party to meet her at Beersheva without enough gas in his tank, who always loses his way on the roads, even the day he drove Ayal and Michal to Michal’s wedding: the three of them got lost and to her shame, the bride arrived late at her own wedding, late and laughing, laughing and late... and the three of them were so perfect, so loving, so close….my children.
When the man who goes with me to the synagogue for the Shabbat morning prayer left, and I stayed at home, alone, I cried some more and I screamed and even went a little wild; I knocked my head against the wall to make the physical pain stronger than the ache in my heart.
Yes, when the heart hurts, it really hurts… It always takes you by surprise. An electric shock, quick and strong or a terrifying cramp, just in the center of your body- exactly at the heart- and you are left (without breath) breathless, without strength, hopeless…
After I cried at home, alone, I thought that maybe it was he who screamed and (that) only the throat and voice were mine… I had not had such a strong attack of grief for a long time. Slowly, slowly I calmed down and Rivka, my friend felt I needed her and as if by miracle, came to my home. We sat in the kitchen, drank the Shabbat coffee from a thermos bottle, laughed, hugged, and I became ‘normal’ again. No. So five years, a lifetime ago, I had no idea how hard it would be for me to go on living. People talked to me, told me of eternal grief, which is something quite abstract. But pain is very different, tangible, palpable, it is not wanting to get up in the morning. Yet waking up feeling nauseous and alone in the world. Alone. You see, in pain you are always alone, alone under compassionate looks and alone even after the compassion has already gone. Only Batsheva told me the truth. Had I known, at any stage, I would have forgone the pleasure of living… Much too costly a pleasure. No, I didn’t know that I would survive and did not know how to survive. But I did and great and remarkable miracles happened to me on the way.
‘What ? it can not be! Is it already five years that he died?’ friends kept asking incredulously all this week. Yes, and to me it seems much longer. And six years since the helicopters disaster, and eight since Beth Lid. And two and a half months ago since Dror Weinberg and a year and a half since Aviv Isaac…
I asked my friend Tamara Rabinovitz whose bereavement and experience are older than mine, how can one explain to someone who has no idea how hard it is for us sometimes and about what are the dead children so angry and scream out through our throats. She said that perhaps one should explain that it is especially hard now because of the Country. That they- the children- invested themselves, their lives, their youth for the country, and all that for nothing. That they gave their lives for a Country that is finished and corrupt, sad and despairing. And that it is not fair, and that all the Ministers, Generals, and Prime Ministers should walk around with photographs of Idor, and Yoni and Avi and Dror in their pockets and then, maybe the Country would look a little different.
I told her that she was really naïve and that by now nothing will make them change, even this would not make them think, let alone feel… Nothing can help.
Last night I had a dream that the war with Iraq had started and I was running to get gas masks for the children and that I had no mask for Yoni. And then I remembered that I did not need a mask for him, that anyhow he was already dead.
Translated by Monique Neumark.”