|Jaffa, October 2016|
Three attacks yesterday, including one in Petah Tivka in which Yonatan Ezriyahav, who was out collecting for charity, got stabbed multiple times in his upper body and then stabbed in his neck. Ezriyahav, who has the high cheekbones, flowing black hair and swarthy sun-roasted skin and build of an ancient warrior, pulled the knife out of his own neck and used it to kill his attacker. Maybe he’s the quintessential Israeli. Or maybe he just got “lucky.”
Murdered yesterday was another warrior, a visiting American, Taylor Force, a 28-year old grad student at Vanderbuilt University and a former USA Army officer who graduated from West Point and completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others who were attacked in Israel yesterday include a husband strolling with his pregnant wife — she was also attacked. The heart of their fetus still beats, that sound which is like the fluttering wings of a dove.
Three more attacks on Israelis today; and it’s still just early afternoon.
So what should I do? Stay in bed? Pray? Join an army? Write a poem? The Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, said that reading each other’s poetry can help us see the humanity in each other. Or should I return to my own personal failsafe feel-good source: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who wrote that we must learn to live together as brothers or all perish as fools. But I already believe in that message.
Maybe I need to stay local. I hear a dog crying in some nearby apartment. I haven't been able to find him or her. Maybe I need to try harder.
A few weeks ago I visited Jerusalem and got lost in the Arab Shuk. I ended up talking with a young Arab many who insisted that the first Jewish person got to Israel only fifty years ago. He believed what his leaders had told him.
The visiting American tourist, Taylor Force, lost his life in Jaffa, a gorgeous little town by the Mediterranean in which Arabs, Jews, Christians, Bahai and others seemed to be mingling in peace last week when I visited. Music poured out of cafes, the sun shone, the air was filled with the smells of freshly baked bagels, za’atar and melting chocolate. According to the Torah, the cedars that were used to build the First Temple, King Solomon's, were brought in through the port at Jaffa. Jaffa may have been named after Japheth, a son of Noah. You remember Noah's family, right? The new generation that was going to "do better" after the flood.
Some of my DNA is Druze, a tribe that is indigenous to this region. And I'm Jewish — all four grandparents and both parents were attacked in Germany during the Holocaust. I've known some tough people. But Israelis are the toughest and most fearless people I have ever met, and the most joyous, and the most sad.
That dog just stopped howling. I don’t know why. I don’t know how long the silence will last.