Monday, September 15, 2003

I read Igal Sarna in Yediot Aharonot this morning (Hebrew link). A prophet of doom, eloquent, poetic and compelling, he touched all the places in me that I am trying very hard not to notice. He touched my fear. He said things I do not want to believe but that I do not dare ignore.

So I decided to translate it and post it here. I'm afraid my translation doesn't do it justice.

Save Us From Ourselves
Igal Sarna

Imagine that Ariel Sharon and Rabbi Ovadia Yossef were killed by Palestinians. Would this monstrous event cause an Israeli riot that would die down after a few weeks, and then we’d go back to our ordinary lives? Or would this double murder thrust the area into a hell that would last for years? It seems that the second option is the more realistic one. Such an event would not be forgotten and would not die down, but would rather submerge the area into a bloody whirlpool for many years to come.

But you know, translation is a wonderful practice. You should try it if you can. Even if you don't know another language well enough, try taking a text that moves you and rewriting it using alternative words. You can't help reaching a much deeper level of understanding for the piece you are tackling. And so with Sarna.

Now think of what the Head of the Shabak (General Security Service – I.J.) Avi Dichter said: It's better to kill Arafat than to deport him. His deportation will cause a serious problem, but killing him, probably along with Sheikh Yassin, will only cause a few weeks of rioting, which will die down. Only a foiler (foiling being the name used by Israeli security forces to describe targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists - I.J.) such as Dichter, his mind defective from too much foiling, could prophesize such a riot. Only a man who saw Arafat as a mirror reflecting the figure of his failure, the figure of all the missed chances, could suggest to kill him, to shatter the mirror reflecting that which he can no longer bear to see.

Funny, I didn't notice that particular load of nonsense when I first read it. Edward Lear move along, the competition is here.

I write these words, not out of love for the Rais (Arabic = President – I.J.) Arafat, an old man of many tales, but because of the growling of my heart with fear for the fate of our children and of this place. Save us from ourselves, I write. Save us.

Because after Arafat and Yassin have been killed, and the lava of the volcano has erupted, the personal security of Dichter and Mofaz (Defense Minister - I.J.), of Sharon and his sons will be stepped up immediately and all the rage and the hatred and the vengeance will be unleashed on us, the simple, defenseless citizens.

Omri Sharon (P.M. Arik Sharon's son and advisor and Member of Knesset – I.J.) is my neighbor in Tel Aviv. I like him personally because he is moderate and funny, but when he stands in the garden below my apartment, with his two little girls, he has with him a bodyguard, a sharp-eyed Shabak-nik, but my children and I, and your children, and our homes and lives are exposed and forsaken now that the fire is near to the keg of explosives. In Israel of 2003 only the suicidal decision-makers are protected. Only the killers are concealed from the eye. And we are standing in the strong blue light as live targets.

Israel is divided into

I read and translated and read and translated and suddenly found myself very aware of the emotional manipulation his beautifully written and emotional column was working on me and I stopped, mid-sentence.

The manipulation had worked because I am scared. I don't want to think about it. I don't want to admit it. I don't know what's right or wrong anymore. Maybe I never did.

I'm scared of my kids blowing up, so I don't think about it. I'm scared of my home turning into a living hell, so I look the other way.

Once, years ago, I had a vision, a terrible vision. I was looking out of the window in the back of the living room of my apartment at the time. This window gave one quite a vista of Tel Aviv. Looking out, the whole of Tel Aviv was engulfed in orange flames; the sky was blackened with smoke. It scared the hell out of me, I tell you.

The memory of this vision comes to me when things are particularly bad, and I'm feeling a bit desperate in the face of the hopelessness of it all and I'm trying my best to be strong and brave and not give in to my fear of things to come.

Maybe it's time to hang out the flag again.

He really freaked me out, that Sarna guy, huh?