This short video was filmed on Day Two of the October 2023 War when I was asked if I felt I wanted to share anything about someone who had fallen/was murdered. The names of the victims: Shlomi and Ayellet Molcho zichronam l'vrachah.
My sense of time is completely off. Four hours passes like ten minutes. Six hours like five.
I'm exhausted and cannot open my eyes at times when I should be fully functional according to my watch and, other times, I cannot sleep when it's the middle of the night. Still, it's important to post about what's happening, to have a record.
As the day draws to a close, I realize I was occupied with two letters today.
The first is a letter or a series of letters my father wrote to me 17 years ago. He was turning 70 and I was in a Bar Ilan Creative Writing Class--my first one. My instructor was Mark Mirsky, who I will forever be indebted to for encouraging me to write.
The class assignment was to ask our parents to write their memories, something I had never asked either parent to do, or even considered. My father--born in Jerusalem in 1936 to a mother born in Jaffa-Tel Aviv during the Ottoman Empire--diligently sat down across the ocean in Ottawa, where he now resides, and did as I asked (with some nudging from my mother).
Then he mailed the letters (yes, old-fashioned mail), while my Canadian-born mother emailed her letters. The majority of what he wrote I had never heard before and if it wasn't for this assignment, I may never have heard, let alone had in writing.
One of the things he shared is his description of Jerusalem in 1948 when he was twelve.
"The school was closed, and no one went to work. Everyone was conscripted into the military or to help in the hospitals or to bury the dead. Across from the house, the dead were in crates one on top of the other. All day we heard the screams and the cries of parents and families."
Of course, he wrote in Hebrew and this is my translation. I went on to translate another 20 or so pages and much of it is published in my novel-in-stories White Zion. The point is those words came back to me this week, more like hit me, knocked me out. And I realized, I could have written them today myself in response to my many emails and messages from people overseas asking me : how are you? what is going on? how are you holding up? (Thanks to all of you. They are meaningful messages.)
I could have changed 1948 to 2023 and cut and pasted from my father's letters. How is it possible so little has changed? How is it possible that we as a People keep arriving at this spot?
Today, my father watches in horror at what he sees as a repeat of history in his lifetime and we have switched places. Seventeen years ago, I asked him to tell me what it was like in Israel and today he's asking me what's going on here, as he looks at a screen that holds his eyes so tight, he is twelve all over again; he cannot look away. He is a paratrooper in 1956 again, a tank driver in 1967 again. There is nowhere to put his eyes for the scenes are imprinted behind them.
The second letter is an email I wrote to the CBC when a colleague from my hometown posted on social media that this major Canadian news organization--THE Canadian news organization-- decided not to use the word terrorist with regard to Hamas. George Achi is the director of journalistic standards and public trust for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and I wrote to him. When it comes to chopping the heads off bodies, mass rape, parading women's bodies around a town like trophies and other atrocities, it is impossible to stomach the "terrorist is too political" line (and that's as mild as I can put it).
A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, for political aims is the definition of a terrorist. Since we're talking about the CBC, I'll stick to the Canadian legalese: "Similar to the legal definition of terrorism in Canada, violence against people; damage to property; endangerment of life; and risks to the health or safety of the public are the key actions addressed within the (Canadian anti-Terrorism) Act." Words do have actual meanings. By definition terrorists slaughtered Israelis on October 7. I will spare you the standard response I received from them about the 20 days in which they try to respond to public complaints. If I receive a real response, I'll share it.
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