Sunday, July 28, 2013

Grief: After Mom's funeral...

Perfect deaths, imperfect deaths       Speaking of a funeral for being inspirational as a poetic tribute is rare for me. Usually, I struggle with grief, perhaps the calamity of death; often the words of a service seem to stall my mourning. It wasn’t that way with my mother’s funeral. It felt perfect as a map her spirit might follow to its reunion with my deceased father.

That’s why, as I began thinking about this piece days ago, I pictured it as a thank you to Jo Ann Howard, our para-Rabbi who created the service. Elegantly simple and direct, it served the memory of my mother well; it freed me to think of all my Mom had done to instill a love of life and a love of justice in my siblings and me.

But I didn’t write anything; I couldn’t. Although I spent hours wondering why, I felt constrained as if I’d let Mom’s passing excuse me from engaging in battles for justice in our world. While she was alive, she’d never done that.

To be sure, we disagreed; often we debated about her support for Obama. Unless we talked about Israel. Then she was more curious than argumentative. Of course, I knew why. Her married granddaughter and grandson reside in Jerusalem. Her fierce love for them always caused her to pause as if reconsidering our President’s intentions.

Last Tuesday, that discussion ended unresolved. Without reluctance, I put down my pen, sat quietly as I read of a deal supposedly brokered by John Kerry, our new Secretary of State, a deal that shocked me as had so many others, painfully similar; all had proven to be ill fated. Aghast, I wasn’t surprised to read the comments of Daniel Pipes.

Thoughts on the Release of 104 Palestinian Murderers

Israeli leaders have a long history of making lopsided trades with their Arab enemies. These include:
1985 – 1,150 prisoners for 3 captured Israelis
2000 – 450 Arab prisoners for 3 Israeli bodies and a kidnapped Israeli;
2008 – 5 Arab prisoners (including the psychopath Samir al-Kuntar) and 199 Arab bodies for 2 Israeli bodies;
2011 – 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Schalit.
I strenuously opposed these unbalanced exchanges (e.g., the Schalit one), even as I acknowledged the honorable Israeli intent not to abandon soldiers.
But there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in the exchange that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proposed today, releasing 104 murderers as a good-will gesture to encourage the Palestinian Authority to negotiate.

Although I am oceans away from Israel, images of heart-chilling horrors returned to haunt me. Just reading the name of one of them (please see: psychopath Samir al-Kuntar) who is regarded as a Palestinian hero makes me wonder whether the world thinks that tolerating such evil beings is the price one must pay for being Jewish.

My mother would never accept that. That’s why she listened when we talked. She viewed that brutal reality as a matter of stark injustice she couldn’t ignore. But she also knew, but for my campaign, she had lost her ability to carry on her fight. With an almost reverent respect, she listened as I detailed crimes against humanity too terrible to be forgiven, too terrifying to consider pardoning.

But Israel had been forced to do that. Mom listened as I railed against each of our administrations for distorting justice and tainting the grace that meaningful pardon brings. Now there’s this:

N Y TIMES 7/28/13


JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel announced Saturday that he had agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, most of whom have served 20 years or more for attacks on Israelis, to pave the way for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington in the coming days…

Most troubling in that article is the admission of Prime Minister Netanyahu:

 “From time to time prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion — when the matter is important for the country,” he wrote. He added that the decision “is painful for the bereaved families, it is painful for the entire nation, and it is also very painful for me. It collides with the incomparably important value of justice.”
But most heart-rending and appalling are the words of the survivor of the deadly acts of one of those about to be released. As you read what follows, you will probably understand my dilemma. Had my Mom been alive to see and feel my anxiety as I read this to her, she would have been shaken to think how little the world had changed in almost a century since she had been born. If she’d found the words, she may have rued that she’d left me with a legacy of powerlessness.
And tears.

On Friday, Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper, published an impassioned open letter to Mr. Netanyahu from Abie Moses, whose pregnant wife and 5-year-old son, Tal, were fatally burned in a firebomb attack on their car in April 1987. Mr. Moses said that, faced with the likely release of their killer, Mohammad Adel Hassin Daoud, “the wounds have reopened; the memories, which we live with on a daily basis, turn into physical pain, in addition to the emotional pain of coping daily with the nightmare.”
Mr. Moses added, “In our opinion, if his release will lead to attaining of peace, let him be released outside the boundaries of Palestine, exiled and never allowed to see his family members again, just as we cannot see ours.”
…An Israeli government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said many of those who remained in Israeli jails, like the 104 now chosen for early release, had been involved in particularly gruesome acts.

                                    B.Koplen 7/28/13

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