Idle threats? Maybe I shouldn’t take it personally. Perhaps his speeches are merely a madman’s bluster. How do I know? Do you?
Whether to take Iran’s Ahmadinijad seriously is a question fit for Hamlet. “To believe or not to believe?” his updated version. In the article, "Iranian President Calls for Muslims' Massive Turnout on Quds Day," from Fars News Agency, August 22, Ahmadinijad is quoted as having said,”...on Sunday that nations can get rid of ‘the infected tumor of the Zionist regime’ through mobilizing their beliefs and ideals.”
Since I am concerned about this threat that I’ve internalized, who do I ask for counsel? How do I connect anyone who would listen with my worries about my children, my newly married daughter and her husband who live and love in Jerusalem? From here at my safe desk in America, I would tell a counselor, I can’t offer them any protection.
How do I make clear that there is no hatred in their hearts, even for the Iranian barbarian? Would that matter to Ahmadinijad? Tearfully, I recall their fervent prayers for peace.
I feel old as a toothless lion. In America, my poems that express my infuriation are said to be off-putting; my essays defending Israel are criticized for being politically one-sided.
My children in Israel do not read my essays and poems. But you do. And my dear friend and Holocaust survivor, Solly Ganor, does. Not one has he found to be offensive. I’ve often read, in Solly’s e-mails, that he feels as I do about Ahmadinijad. In fact, he and I are in such synchronized states of mind that, coincidentally, we’ve just traded essays about the passing of our fathers.
Both Solly and I were close to our Dads. Uniquely close. I worked side by side with mine for decades. Solly struggled along with his father to survive Nazi concentration camps together. On his deathbed, Solly’s Dad asked Solly to read one of the favorite stories, “Captain Miracle,” that Solly had written.
Words from that story were the last his Dad ever heard. Just before that, he had praised Solly for having left the safety of their new home in Canada to fight for Israel’s survival during its war of independence. Then Solly’s Dad listened to a story about Captain Miracle, a captain charged with transporting thousands of Holocaust survivors who no one else wanted to the only place on the planet that did, Israel.
That was almost sixty years ago. I have hesitated to ask Solly whether his children think Israel is still worth fighting for. They live in America, out west. I may ask him soon.
Just as I hope my children will ask me, as if to confirm their realization that it is. I know that their good hearts would be more than a match for Ahmadinijad’s hatred. I wonder whether my Dad thought that about me.
If so, did he think I might be able to smite Iranian intentions with my pen? I will never know. But I must show my children that they must be wary of those who so openly speak of doing them harm. How else can I shoulder a shield for them that a father must wear?
B. Koplen 8/24/11