Tonight at the Combatants for Peace memorial service, I ran into an old friend. We found seats near her roommate, and her roommate showed us a picture of soldiers crawling through the sand in an orderly line, to pick up the last shreds of their friends bodies after their friends had been blown up, together with their jeep.
The caption labeled this the saddest memorial day picture, containing within it the sadness and meaning of all the other pictures. My Hebrew is a little patchy still, and I couldn’t quite tell if she agreed, let alone how one would decide such a thing.
The room was incomprehensibly large, and quickly filled past capacity. Four jumbotrons were set up to help people see. It’s easy to lose track of how many people genuinely believe, as one of the speakers said, that “It is my duty as a Palestinian that this pain, that hurt me, that hurt my family and my mother, does not hurt anyone else. And I hope this pain will not be felt on the other side.”
On the jumbotron, a man said “We share same pain, and the same hope.” It seems unimportant, and maybe crass, to define people by their nationalities in a moment like that, but the voices of those who speak with decency and gentleness get lost too often here, so I will mention that he was Palestinian. Also, that he was not only speaking for himself.
I left early to catch my train, on my way out I saw that a counter-protest had assembled. It was small, maybe twenty or so young people, some of them draped in Israeli flags, and angry. They were shouting at us, and chanting “Anu lo mitbayshim, l’[something I couldn’t stand] Aravim.” We are not embarrassed to [something, something] Arabs. I felt a bit of appreciation for my patchy Hebrew which preventing me from understanding precisely what they were screaming about the children mourning parents, and parents mourning children, who had just spoken inside.
I wondered if they were fools, or if some of them were acting out of their own bereavement; I hope they were fools.