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'Nazi,' They Said, 'May Bereavement Come to You Too'

When she came out of the hall where the joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony was held, they were waiting

Iris Leal
Iris Leal
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Around 3,000 attended the alternative Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv, April 30, 2017.
Around 3,000 attended the alternative Memorial Day ceremony in Tel Aviv, April 30, 2017.Credit: Hai Ashkenazi
Iris Leal
Iris Leal

She arrived at 8:00 o’clock in the evening in order to stand at attention during the siren with all the people who came to the ceremony. At the entrance, fenced off like beasts baring their fangs, they were waiting for her, pawing the ground, snarling. “What did you do in the army,” they yowled at her, waving Israeli flags.

She kept walking straight ahead with determination – after all, she can’t tell them what she did in the army, what an important job she had there, even though she had grown up in a leftist family. “Arabs’ slut,” they shouted at her and threw water bottles at her, some of them filled with urine.

When she came out of the hall where the joint Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony was held, they were waiting, fired up by – what’s it called? Yes. Black milk. “Nazi,” they flung at her, “may bereavement come to you too.”

And indeed it came. She talked about what happened at the ceremony on our way to the cemetery. Many people – among them Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who during the course of Memorial Day frenetically uploaded pictures of his fallen comrades as though he were scolding us through them – don’t know this, but leftists have also lost people they loved in Israel’s wars. Among them are some who want to hear the stories of Palestinian loss and grow closer to them through grief.

I look at her with concern, checking for signs of fear or despair. She has milky skin and a long neck and she is as delicate as a Modigliani portrait; only yesterday they spat at her and shouted at her, “Seed of Amalek.” But my daughter, judging by the expression on her face, which I know very well, is only perplexed. She is trying to understand, conditioned by years of life in a home where we probe and probe by means of the fundamental question – for example, who are the people of those fascist militias and who is poisoning their souls – until we get to the root of the matter.

The next day a partial answer to this question will arrive. The Naftali Bennett who appeared in the previous paragraph will shoot in the next. For now, we are withdrawing into atypical silence. When will she ask herself if all this is worth it, I wonder. She is an architecture student and as part of her training she will study abroad. When will she decide that it isn’t worth it and it isn’t worthy to live here with the hounds who are leaping at us and tearing our flesh?

To Bennett’s tweet, which may or may not have been posted by a student (Donald Trump also dictates his tweets to his secretary, but this doesn’t make her president of the United States), has a far harsher effect on her. In his arrogant indifference, a minister in the government is asking her to absorb the spitting in silence, as fitting punishment for participating in a ceremony for “murderers of babies.” Subsequently he said this was a mistake and later he added a joke about the student who ate steak at the family barbecue and allowed all this poison stimulated his appetite. Two days elapsed before, as though haunted, he condemned the rioters, many of whom were settlers from Yitzhar. Bennett, we know very well, doesn’t lay a finger on his flock.

At the end of the day my daughter looked a bit crestfallen. The brutal violence of Bennett and his supporters against the Israeli experience is strangling the remnants of vitality. They are giving black milk to the lions and the dogs to drink, poisoning them and killing us, and when I say “us,” I mean the few who still have the strength to fight back. If you keep beating on Yossi Klein instead of standing up to them, they will make my children despair and give up. And it will be their children who inherit the land.

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