Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Alternative Memorial Day Commemoration

It would have been much easier to put on my black shirt and wrap myself in blue and white and head over to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, where I live, or the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, where I study. But tonight I chose to commemorate the fallen with members of my species and not my collective self. Sometimes we think that we can get closer to our individual corpus when we incorporate and draw lines that separate us from the others. That is not how I experienced the eve of Memorial Day in Israel this year.
This evening, I waited in line outside of the concert hall, Reading 3, at the Tel Aviv Port, with nearly a thousand human beings, as the sirens sounded to mark the battles of Israel, but the crowd I stood with was unlike any other. Tonight, at Reading 3, for the sixth straight year, the members of Combatants for Peace brought together human beings to mourn their losses, and the absence of flags and anthems and generals and otherness was astounding.

Tonight, Moti Fogel mourned the loss of his brother and his brother’s family, to a savage terror attack, beside Palestinians who also lost their loved ones to violence. And Yair Dalal sang his prayer for peace in Hebrew and Arabic with the accompaniment of a children’s choir. And a bereaved, Palestinian, Israeli, Druze sister mourned the loss of her brother, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces, and shared with us the story of being asked, “How could your brother have pointed his gun at his Arab brothers?” Whoever wrote that schoolyard verse, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” must have been deaf.

I knew I was in the right place this evening when Yoni Richter took the stage and put music to the words of Yehudah Amichai’s The Place Where We Are Right.
From the place where we are right, flowers will never grow in the spring. The place where we are right is hard and trampled like a yard. But doubts and loves dig up the world like a mole, a plow. And a whisper will be heard in the place where the ruined house once stood.
Tonight, surrounded by a thousand members of my species, in a place where everyone mourned, and we all recognized the humanity of the person sitting beside us, flowers grew and the possibility of peace felt like more than a whisper.


Robertaindia said...

Dear David,
I don't believe we have met; I am so heartened to read of the event and to connect with the energy of your words and sentiments; we can mourn and allow ourselves to feel the sadness, and also feel so elevated by coming together in this way , by Amichai’s words. thank you. I would love to hear your response to my blogs, and to be in contact.
Roberta Wall

Robertaindia said...

PS My blogs are at