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The Proud Mothers /
Aya Kaniuk

The Mite's offsprings develop in her body. At a certain moment, they begin to devour her from inside her body. They gnaw at her more and more in order to get out, into their own lives. They make their way through her, through her life. The destruction of her body is their path to independence. They come out of the ruins of her deteriorating body that makes room for them to move on to their own life.

My need for inseparability defines and determines my life. It is an insatiable desperate need to annihilate the inevitable distance ever present between people. It is the pain – impossible to unravel – of knowing that no word ever really covers any meaning, of the darkness that is forever stretched between name and actuality, and that there will always be that gap between our intention and the way it is perceived by the other. This is the loneliness engendered by the fact that one skin ends and another begins and between them lies this separateness that is impossible to cross.
The longing for non-distance in its most malignant form is the illusion that ultimate closeness is being the other, like the other, being him/her. For this very manifestation is the full and absolute inversion of closeness, the freezing of non-movement, the annihilation of self, death. And thus, in absolute, coinciding closeness, that contains no separation, no word, no loneliness, is absolute distance. The distance that annihilates who you are.

The mother, her motherhood like a glove to a hand, the skin of her soul curving to contain to the very core, and the child in his adult essence still trying to disintegrate back into the cracks of her body's soul, that soft endlessly curving body of his mother's soul in her incarnation into other essences, substitutes, more and more asks to be contained forever, swallowed, and she – real and symbolized in the outreaching palms of her soul, nearly disintegrating into the cracks of his existence, nearly gathering him back into her body, into herself… But no, that border is impenetrable… Forever. The word 'mother', as Lakan said, arises from knowing the distance, the word mother arises with the knowledge of her as other, herself, knowing separation, and it is the lament over the attempt to reduce that distance. His longing is always sprayed back, sealed within the borders of his skin, his separateness, the borders of his life.

Is this what I have left from my life beside Tom and his mother? Is this what I have taken, or seen, or asked, did I try to infiltrate between them, to be touched by what for a moment seemed as touching the absolute, touching non-distance, wholeness? But I was wrong… As Abraham did unto Isaac, she sacrificed him, her only son, she thought there was something greater than him and her, a divinity made of music, and just as she did, Israeli mothers sacrifice their children to the tribe, to the Molech of obedience and belonging and the army…

I was perhaps the only one who loved Tom. Except his mother, of course.
He was always hearing music. Inside his head. At recess he would pace to and fro, head down, hearing the music he would invent, anger and some unexplainable despair stamped in his very handsome face. His eyes were dark, wide-set. We were seventeen. He was a gifted pianist. His skin was very white, his cheekbones prominent. He was lean and tall and his fingers long and thin. His hair was light brown and long. Not very long. He just never hurried to get it cut. Always held his jaw tight so his bones were really visible, but his mouth was soft, red and full. Like a ripe cherry about to burst. A juicy stain on his austere face. But all this sensuality, implicating him, was directed at one thing only – music. He would look at us as if we were transparent. Not angrily or lovingly or with any other feeling. He simply did not see. The external for him was no more than a stepping board into the music he heard incessantly. Since he must have been a genius, his grades were always good, even though I never saw him sit and listen to the teachers. It was said that growing up with a blind mother is not easy. And his obvious devotion to her was the one thing he had going for him with all the rest of us. I think he didn't even know our names. I was really enchanted with him, he was my hero. Although he was so good-looking, somehow the girls were not attracted to him. He was impenetrable. And what they saw, I believe, was only the anger, the drawing back that they took for aloofness, condescending. I felt his detachment as a kind of loyalty to himself. Control.

He was so focused. So precise.

Now I also know that it had been pre-ordained, that he had no choice.
I believe he shaped me. Who I am today. Who I will be. Who I won't be.

He was absolutely attuned. This precision, this loyalty, what I call beauty. Everything he taught me without knowing it. That quality he just had and that would never again be manifested.

He cut off his fingers.
He would never play again.
I still accompany his mother every day to the mental hospital where he has been staying for several years now. Speak with her a bit, and go. She also keeps quite silent. He still looks at me as if I were transparent. But I don't care. The truth is I never did.
"When I was pregnant," his mother once told me, "I was already asking him to always have music, and he knew ever since. He understood me."
She always walked very tall. There was also a certain rigidity about her. But her body was softer, older. Nor was she on fire. Resembled him perhaps only in that intent, in her determination. Walking fearlessly in spite of her blindness.
I would touch only her rod, not her. She too was untouchable.
I couldn't say she was beautiful. Certainly not like him. Something happens when the eyes go, for the eyes blend in you all of existence that lies beyond the single moment, beyond the outline that speaks so little, they contain movement, that is not in the body's moving but in the fact that the body imprisons the possible, that which slides from the specific frozen moment onto some outline. Eyeless, without that which the eyes see, express, she was lifeless. And yet so determined. Empty and present, her strangeness outside of the familiar. Different, alien…
I remember Bluma, daughter of Bat Sheva, loyal and betrayed friend of my late grandmother. She kept silent for twenty years. Fixed into a shell that emptied with time. She ate, got up, slept. Her face did not age. Inside, her life was hollow. It happened to her just after her baby was born, and off she paced into silence. And then, twenty years later, when her son was in the army, with that incomprehensible inversion with which she had paced into silence, she "woke up", a nineteen year old girl locked up in a forty year old woman, physically and mentally. That child in her was strange, uncanny, but we did not attend to it. A miracle had happened. And we were all delighted. She recovered. But I've learned long ago that illness and health are not to switched off and on. "Being" is experiencing. For twenty years she had not experienced anything. Not belonging to the world, to her age, was in a way a form of retardation. Of graceless innocence. She fervently knitted sweaters for her son, who feared her, feared this strange, invasive mothering that she was suddenly imposing on him after all those years of being a creature, a walking shell, a strange ill woman. The daughter of his grandmother. No one knows exactly what happened. Perhaps she phoned and did not find him, but she went out to him. She knew vaguely that he was in an army base in the north, by the sea. She went to bring him a sweater. It was that harsh winter a few years ago when the homeless froze in the streets, even in Israel. She walked out to the sea. She reached the water line and headed north. It was hard to search for her because of the weather. What happened was she walked and walked until she collapsed, probably exhausted. Or perhaps she only lay down to rest. We'll never know. She walked herself to death. Holding the sweater.

This was just a while after she had "woken up" and before everything was over there was the Passover Seder and I first saw her. I remember the strange and haunting combination of dry twitching liveliness, sapless, blended in her lifelessness. Despite my habitual courtesy, I couldn't approach her. Or look straight at her. The thought of touching her even fleetingly, shaking her hand, would send shivers down my spine. Like touching fish, jelly fish.
Tom' mother had something of that otherness, strange, shell-like. Not like Tom's strangeness that stems from his personality. From his specificity. His boundaries. No, this was a compelling strangeness of a different kind of person. "You know", I told her, uneasy with the endless silence that would stretch between us unless I spoke. "They say that musicality is inborn, primal and very much connected to the fact that the embryo hears the heart beating, and experiments have shown that if a tape recorder is placed by the crib, the more the recorded rhythm resembles the mother's pulse, the calmer the baby becomes". She did not reply and I thought, whence this strength to let me squirm. Suddenly she spoke as though completing her own words: "So all through this pregnancy I told myself, music, it's the pulse of the world. I was very calm, so happy that my pulse was extremely steady. Once some noise startled me, and my pulse suddenly hammered away, and then he kicked me.
I calmed down immediately. We both did. He forgave."
I felt my heart twinge. Does she know? I thought of the infinite cruelty of sufferers, the selfishness of victims. Compelling lumps of thought. Beating. Not letting up. But she doesn't know. And she won't.

"Why did you call him Tom (innocence)?" I asked her, once. I feared to tell her that inverted, the letters spell M-O-T. (death). But she seemed to read my thoughts. "Yes, that too. I know you think that. Because of that too. It was like a vaccine. And because of music. Music is not moral. Not good or bad. Only the innocent is not moral. And I knew he'd be innocent."
Is Tom, her son still tam, innocent? I remembered the look of his agony. a thread of agony weaving from high school to the hospital and on to eternity. Locked like a person who has sewn himself up into himself. No one knows how to help him. The doctors too are helpless. He is caged. In the cage of his neediness of music, a neediness to which he was no longer entitled, which he had to chop off together with his hands, in a cage of guilt towards his mother, whom he was only busy deceiving. Until now he has not said what happened, why he did what he did, why he lashed out, why he cut. One plea only resounded like a prayer: "Don't tell her."
Does she know?
We all collaborate with the lie. It's a ritual of sorts. She arrives, and then he sits down to an imaginary piano, and we turn on the stereo and play music he composed and recorded, or used to play. We finally raised enough money to buy a really good disc-player. Much of what he used to play was on discs. She would sit down as she always did, facing her Tom, listening to him play. Then we'd applaud. The patients, the nurses and doctors, and myself. She never applauded. Just shut her empty eyes and, whispering soundlessly, "My Tom", her hollow eyes would light up to him. Or so it seemed to me. But only darkness would burn inside his dark, fiery eyes looking at her. And then she would get up, and he would get up, silent. They did not speak. His dark burning eyes would accompany her. Until the door would bang shut behind us.
I would walk her to her small room not far from the hospital. It always seemed unreasonable to me that she did not know. But since he would not be touched, never let anyone touch him, this lie could be kept. So I thought. So I wanted to think. She never spoke much. Didn't ask questions. But with time she asked less and less that he play for her. "You need to rest", she said. I should have understood then.

What happened was actually so minor, seemingly so out of proportion, it makes one want to scream. There was a music room in school, with a piano. Already considered a musical prodigy, he was allowed to play there whenever he liked. And he sat all day and played and played, until he went back home to her. And once someone entered the room: a strange boy, an immigrant, a newcomer in Israel. Didn't know the unwritten rules about Tom. He went in and sat down. There was a bench at the end of the room. Listened for a while. "Teach me", he said suddenly. Tom was just playing Chopin, and the boy may have felt nostalgic. Tom did not answer. "Teach me", he approached and touched him. Tom must not be touched.
Tom got up and beat him. He beat him unconscious. Someone saw. An ambulance was called. The boy nearly died. He had a cracked skull and swelling inside his brain. He did not regain consciousness. For two weeks we didn't know whether he'd live.
All this time Tom wouldn't come out of the music room. His mother brought him food which he left untouched. He was allowed to stay there day and night. Two weeks later the boy came to, and Tom was told he would be okay and that he had written him a letter and asked that it be delivered. "Forgive me", it said. "Forgive me", the boy wrote Tom. And then he got up, Tom did, went to the crafts' workshop, took a large sharp cutting knife that was there for clay work, and cut off his right hand fingers, managed to hit his left hand fingers as well, blood was all over the place and the kids were screaming. He said only one sentence, and I heard it: "Don't tell my mother". Then he saw me, when he was already on a stretcher, but held me tight in his fingerless hands, covering me with blood, perhaps I wasn't transparent, perhaps he always knew what he meant to me, and said it again. But only to me. He held me tight, looking straight into my love, into my soul that had gone out to him for years, into my pulse: "You won't tell her, promise me." I'll never forget his face, even when I grow old, even after I die. And I promised. And that's how it was. He lay in the hospital. She knew he had hurt himself. I fixed things so she wouldn't be told how hurt he was. I don't know where I took the strength to arrange it all. This was the first phase of my growing up. He gave me an assignment and I would fulfill it. I nearly dropped out of school. I, too, effortlessly got good grades so no one worried about my absences. From hospital he was moved to Shalvata (psychiatric institution). There, too, I organized it all.
"Don't tell her" he repeated like a prayer, constantly moving about. Sometimes I would come without her. I didn't think he noticed. But on one of these occasions he looked at me suddenly, and stopped. He approached me. How handsome he is, I thought, God, how pure. How innocent. He didn't say anything. "I'll see to it", I told him. I was very erect looking at this boy. I wanted to go in and be there inside under his burning eyelids. To close my eyes and caress him. His eyes, his white face that had become nearly transparent. But I knew that would never be. The boy who faced me is not a boy, he's the fate he has imposed on himself, sewn with stitches that had already become a part of his flesh. It was not despair or pleading or violence that fluttered in his eyes, into which I could not stop looking, penetrating them, trying.
It was something else, something from the other side of pain, the embers of pain.
Sometimes on the beach children build castles. Close to the water line. And slowly the sand castles collapse into themselves until they disappear. I could stand there all my life and look at him. "Don't worry, I know, I know" he said suddenly and had tears the size of marbles running down his face. The boy often wanted to come but Tom wouldn't have it. I met him. A charming, sensitive, sensible child. Younger than us. What will happen to him because of all this, who knows? But one just cannot take care of everyone. One makes decisions. Choices. This is what turns one into a person. That's what Tom did. Was. But I heard the boy was suffering terribly, and blaming himself. So I invited him over. "Does he still hear music? From inside? Like he used to?" He seemed to be begging me. "No, I don't think he hears anything…"
He had to wallow in this punishment that he'd inflicted on himself. The double punishment, chopping off the hands that were connected directly to his soul. To his pulsating core, to the deepest, most concentrated need. For it was from them, from there that he hit, lashed out, from there he had killed or nearly. And again to punish himself, this time for the sin to his mother in that terrible forgetful moment, forgetting his duty born into her and for her, his destiny, thus erasing completely the grace of music. The bliss of music's pulse. No, he no longer hears music, doesn't feel entitled, he has turned off the inside and only noise remains. I see him sometimes putting his stumps to his ears." "Stumps?" "Yes, he has neglected everything, on purpose, it all rotted, was cut off. Forget it. Yes, stumps. Noise crushes him, of the outside that he had never heard. But he never complains." The boy listened to me, amazed. His face pleasant. "Look", I told him, "at first I thought, there's a secret here, a key, and if only I will decipher it, I'll understand and like magic everything would be alright again. But nothing had ever been alright, that's the whole point. Perhaps I don't exactly understand, but what happened with you frightened him. Of himself. You see, he had a demon. He feared it. But it's not that he didn't know about it before. Not as though the demon emerged and overwhelmed him as he lashed out at you. All that happened, I think, that moment when someone would say this or the other thing, touch him or not, and he would lash out until that person would nearly die and then he would chop of his hands, all that was already prescribed inside him. Perhaps he had always known this would happen, even ran it in his thoughts. It had to happen, he wanted this, understand, he had been waiting for this for a very long time. And it's not personal. Even if for you this will always be personal, it's not. Not as far as he's concerned. What he did is an earlier account, something between him and himself. Between him and her. We'll never understand. Ever. And we, you and I, must learn to live with it, you hear? That we'll never know, that it's impossible to cross, that between people there's this great darkness and it only seems to us we can penetrate it and know. But we can't, even for a moment, reduce this darkness between the word and its meaning, and that's it.
It's the end, see? But he chose this end. You didn't force it on him. It's not your fault."
"But now he won't play, and he's so gifted and it's all because of me." No, stop. No, listen, I hugged him. Tight. "You know, right away I wanted to study music, so I thought he could at least dictate to me all the scores he had inside his head, for he was mainly a composer. And I know he'd been offered prostheses that attach to the nervous system in the brain and he could gradually, with a lot of will power, just as we do, be able to work them and write with them. And he had now been informed of this state-of-the-art technology just for these cases and soon he might even be able to play again. At least whatever was in his head. But he refused. Everything.
Because the urge of this gift of his, the sparks of his ability to touch – through music - the heart of it all, this burning lucid center of his, you know how it is. You've seen it back then, this core, of everything, of the being, that's also the core of his violence. That's where the demon… where the anger… the hatred… that's where this inevitability that he was addicted to, and hated, and suffered from, was… It's hard to explain to you, but for him, music, his identity, this demon, everything he could not do without, was also… a tomb. And he couldn't breathe there. He couldn't any longer. So I know this would have happened in any case. This is something similar. I am sure. He could not contain himself. He was simply about to burst, and leak, the skin was stretched tight on his head, and he was about to burst… He suffered, terribly… You didn't know him before. I saw he couldn't take it any longer. But I hadn't a name to give it. I saw streams of fire, and of pain, and of hatred, streaming in his arteries together with the blood, and the oxygen, and how he'd breathe, he'd scream. And his need for music was like our need to breathe. Like something one could not do without. So he heard music and screamed. It's we who didn't hear. Didn't hear him. You know, I think perhaps you saved him from suicide or oblivion. It was close. Something had to happen to turn off this scream of his. You were there only to allow him to do what he had wanted to do for a while. What, when he chopped off his fingers, did he atone for you? He is wise and profound and gentle enough to understand what a burden he lay on you. How much selfishness and self love was in this 'disengagement' in view of your wounds. Only after he heard you had recovered did he maim himself. Not out of guilt about you. If anything, out of selfishness. Out of fear. Out of horror.
If anything, the sin is his, you see, his. Against you. How could he drop on someone else what he dropped on you, to bear the burden of his deed, to impose on you the belonging to something that is not yours to belong to, to let you think you were responsible and connected to something that has nothing to do with you, but he doesn't see… Doesn't stop… he can't. It is you who should forgive him…
The real sin, you know, the only one as far as he is concerned, is that when chopping off his fingers, his playing hands, he forgot. For one long irreversible moment - his mother. And for that he doesn't forgive himself. Perhaps not quite forgot, perhaps he really wanted to tear the cord, but as soon as he did, he couldn't bear it. That this had happened, been ordained, is irreversible… It's a complicated story, you know. She raised him on her own. She was a pianist and had gone blind. Her husband abandoned her when she got pregnant. Said he couldn't stay with someone who is married only to music. She turned him into a musician when he was still in her womb. They were together from the moment he was born. Always. He took care of her almost from the very beginning. And she played for him, until he started playing. And then she stopped altogether. And they were one.

She took him to be tested and they said he was a "child prodigy". From that day on, at any rate from a very certain early moment, he wouldn't let her touch him. And she accepted that. He only played for her. Every day. Morning. Noon. Evening. He took care of her, and he played. He had no friends. She had no friends. She sat home and waited for him. She didn't even listen to music then. Only waited. Any money they had came from the father and there was social security, and scholarships that kept flowing. And she was a kind of coach for musicians, but stopped that too. "I have no time", she explained to people who would call her, "I'm waiting for my son."
Strangely it seemed her blindness didn't put her off at all.
She even said to me once, "You hear music better this way". As if talking about grace that had befallen her. She had a 'seeing eye' dog, but hardly ever went out. Only waited. I think they hardly spoke. They had an almost telepathic connection. He would play and then she'd know what he wanted. What he knew he wanted. What he knew she wanted. Not you are guilty. If anything, he is. He wanted all that had happened. The burden was too heavy. He released himself of something, but only for a moment, that was over immediately, for he had shackled himself to another guilt – forever. Towards his mother." "He exchanged one demon for another", said the boy.
"Yes," I said, and thought, how sensitive this boy is. Then suddenly I gripped his shoulders, hard. For a moment I remembered Tom holding me. It was my shoulders. But Tom didn't hold, he gripped, and I realized all of a sudden, that I didn't exist. And for the first time, for a moment, for a second, I felt angry at Tom. "Don't you turn this into your own life. You will not be atoning anything if you get screwed up. Go study music. Or anything else you need for yourself. Know, I'm telling you this again, that I really think that unless it happened to him with you, he'd already be dead… It was close… and I don't even know how I know this. And he's afraid of you because you're the mirror to his sin… towards his mother." And I let him.
"But she doesn't know", said the boy.
"No, she has no reason to. She doesn't know."
"But you," I said, more softly, "go ahead and live. Turn the burn you've sustained into a hatchet with which you'll make sculptures, and don't stand in front of mirrors and smash your head against the wall."
And I remembered Tom again… And the blood drained from under my skin...
The boy looked at me then, "Don't be sad" he said. I sewed up my tears.

"Did you talk? Did he talk?" I dared and asked her once, as we were already walking down the path out of Shalvata Hospital and onto the center of town. "Talk?" It took her a while to answer. "You know, in music the entire experience transpires in the tension between being and nothingness. Of the anticipation. The anticipation that is in nothingness, in the silence between the sounds, in the absence, thrown into being. And the being, the sound, punctuates that which is between things. Into the silence anticipation is projected, experience is projected, and then comes the sound that breaks this tension, releases, into the next silence. Exactly like the Sherlock Holmes story, "The Hound of the Baskervilles". Holmes' genius was seeing the solution in "being that is in nothingness". In that which was expected and is not. There were no barks. Thus he solved the mystery. Artists have always understood this. When I still had eyes I once took Tom to see the ancient Greek sculpture of the discus thrower. It is a sculptured athlete, his body taut to its extreme, a moment before he throws the discus. Just that moment that contains the need of the discus to be thrown. You look at the statue, and sense it in your belly, anticipating. You face frozen marble and sense the excitement. That he is about to throw. And in this frozen marble there is necessity. There is life. There is movement. And there is also the tension between what is there that bears witness to what is not, and between that which is not but must happen, weighing upon that which is. And the tension between the different "being", that which is frozen in marble, and that which burns in anticipation. It is speech. Information. It is the statue. Do you understand We, my Tom and I, were always in this 'being'. In the speech that is transpiring, playing, that which 'is not'. And there was music. And all the little things. You know, sweetie?" she turned to me. "Don't place him like a vase on an altar. He's a human being. A human being. He's only a boy. I knew he suffers."
I didn't dare break the silence that fell between us.
The scream inside the silence.
The being inside nothingness.

When we arrived at Shalvata, it was seemingly the usual ritual. "Tom". "Mom".
She sat down. "Not this time" she said, surprisingly. "Let's just be quiet for a while." The mother felt the silence tearing the air.
"I once read that Hadassah Klein," she suddenly said aloud, "spoke about Avraham Halfi, the poet. I remember exactly what she said: there were times when we sat and kept still. We could sit and not talk with each other. I once said to him, Halfik, could we keep still about something else?" I didn't take my eyes off Tom. They were dark as the night and contained this scream, this terrible fright that I had only seen in him once, when he made me swear she wouldn't find out, when he touched me, gripped me. "I'll play", he said, begging. "What would you like?" She kept still. And I knew she knew. That she'd always known. And I was flooded with anger. I hated her, wanted to poke out the eyes she didn't have, why now? All of a sudden? Had she decided to punish him? Why? It was she who had forced this demon upon him. She who imposed sin on him. She who buried him in a fate preordained. How beautiful he was. How desperate. Even without fingers, I saw his hands closed in a fist.
But I was wrong. And that is what I am writing about. For people are not one thing, like parents who send their children to serve the Occupation Molech and call it love, and concern, and sacrifice them like flies, on the altar of belonging, for themselves,
she imposed a fate on him that he had no choice but to choose, and was caught, they were both caught and were one, as if inside an atom, caught by the forces of attraction and rejection, with endless energy contained in the connection. "The Second", she said a moment later. "Play the Second". She meant Chopin. We played the recording. And she said, this time in the voice we all heard, "My Tom". There were enormous tears on his face. Strangely, it didn't get wet. He cried, and the tears evaporated. When the piece ended, we all applauded louder than usual. And again there was silence. A thick one. A clanging one. And she said to him, "Next time, give it more counterpoint". And he smiled. That was the first time I ever saw him smile.
I knew she was asking him forgiveness. I knew this was love. I knew that I know nothing, and that I would never ever be able to get close to them, or between them, never ever.
On the way back she wept. I wanted to hug her, but knew it was forbidden. Forbidden, and that's that. No one ever saw my own tears.

At a non-existent distance, around the corner of the street and the wall, at the distance between the open and the shut eye, the blink of the eye, lies the sin of Occupation.
Roads for Jews only, laws and rights according to race, the indigenous people, the natives, imprisoned by the white man, the invader, with his cultural mastery, his sense of supremacy, his greed masquerading as "culture" or war for security or both, grabbing the indigenous people's land, their water sources, everything that is fertile, their natural resources, allots them 'area cells', encircled by gates and power, and in between, an alternative, state of the art, convenient system for the over-privileged, whose roads are well paved, and they are free to drive about as they please, while the indigenous remain behind the blocked entries to their villages, without name signs, nameless villages for faceless people.
To move around in their lives, from village to village, from town to village, to work, to relatives, to the hospital, anywhere important or not, to school, shopping, they need a permit from the over-privileged. Guilty until proven otherwise, inferior, devoid of rights. Any white Jew is entitled to crush them and step on them, and the law does not touch him, not when he assaults Palestinians, where the law or its absence is enforced only on the victim, the dark-skinned.
The white Jew is always and a-priori acquitted, no matter what he does, whereas the dark-skinned Palestinian is always guilty, always forbidden, no matter what he does.
And the white children, the over-privileged, politically Left and Right alike, who have grown up with a sense of cultural supremacy and historic rights and victim-hood as inherent as DNA, always right no matter what, even if you've murdered, it's because you're a victim, if you've been murdered, you're the victim, you're a Jew, that's the whole answer.
Like them, the anti-Semites of old, who saw Jew as an inherent trait of the individual, like the 18th century French dictionary definition of Jew as greedy, meaning race was also trait, thus today's Jews, just like those anti-Semites, see Jewishness as a moral trait inherent in the race, a-priori as an individual: supreme, right, white, and entitled, and a victim, for he is a Jew – no matter what he did, what he will do, right by nature, victim by nature. Jewish. And everyone, the children all, without blinking an eye or a soul, are sent by their white parents, Left and Right alike, off to a war that is not just, some of them claiming this is the law, as if the law is justice, others claiming that otherwise they would suffer the social consequences. Some because this is right, because they are right, because this is what they all do, because Occupation is good.
The brand names of bullying are brand names. Symptoms of supremacy and excellence and worth… Occupation and repression as a brand name…
And the children are sent forth generation after generation by their parents. who like them were sent off by their own parents, to crush and smash and steal and die and kill.
One cannot abuse and come out whole. One cannot abuse and come out good.
Serving in the army means abusing.
Serving means coming out maimed.
As history has shown, whoever takes that which is not his to take, whoever humiliates and imprisons and destroys and thinks he is better than others and omnipotent, is doomed to fall, to wither and self-destruct and get lost and disintegrate. The question is only when, and how much more blood will have to flow until then.

The over-privileged sacrifice the Palestinian on the grounds of their greed and blindness and automatic herd-like sense of belonging, but alongside these they sacrifice their own children. For nothing. For the tribe. Because that's what everyone does. As if the tribe in itself is a value, for brand names that will turn into ashes when the child comes back shedding and sodden with what he's done, with what he has been ordered to do, with what his parents sent him to do.

And being proud of the child is participating as well.
Supporting his choices is participation, pushing him to not having a possible, alternative living space to consider differently.

Israel today carries an evolutionary imprinting that is not in its DNA. It's an immunological deficiency. Like those which strike a body suddenly attacked by its own systems, as if the body itself is perceived as an invader and annihilated by its own defense mechanisms. Thus the parents who send their offspring to the army are likened to an auto-immune disease. They wrongly identify the good as the bad, the bad as the good. Who sacrifice their children as if they were offering them their life choice, but actually breaking it up with cracks and irreversible damage, forever, for all the generations to come.

The female of the Australian frog species Rheobatrachus silus swallows its eggs after being hatched and fertilized. Because of the eggs developing in her stomach, she much cease all digestive activity for the duration of her "pregnancy", otherwise she would digest and destroy the eggs she is tending. She gets thinner and thinner, becomes motionless, reduces herself, her world, so that no stimulus jolt her body fluids and destroy her offspring, and then at a certain moment, she "bears" her little forglets, vomiting them out.

The frog will never sacrifice her children and impose on them the genius that has no spaces, or force them to serve in the army: she is too perfectly programmed for that, without symbols, without language, without ego… Many years have gone by… Children of my friends are as old as Tom and I were back then… The son of one of my friends is about to be conscripted. The homes are all a-flurry, how could they not be? The children receive summons for all kinds of "elite" units. Cautiously, with disguised pride, mothers ask each other what's up with the boy, pretend innocence, wait with bated breath to be asked about their own, so they can wave his summons for pilot training, intelligence, reconnaissance, something of the expected spectrum, and my heart and body cringe, belly sewn up.
But what should I do, she says, that's what he wants. And why not? Better him than others, someone has to bear the burden. I don't want to influence him. Only one percent of the candidates were accepted, she adds as an afterthought, couldn't help herself.

And you're proud of it, I ask. That your son has been accepted to a unit of sophisticated killers, I bark, I'm sorry. How could you say such a thing, she asks stonily. Say this about Uri.
This is not about Uri, I reply. This is about you. Your pride, gnawing away, about having imposed on him to ask for this. About not giving him space where there are alternatives, so that wanting something else would be conceivable. You are the one sacrificing him to choose, necessarily, you are the one who has nursed him with 'we have no choice'. You, like Tom's mother, like Tom's mother, I said and cried, and she said, go away and don' come back. And I went.
I got out of there, out of her and all the others, I walked hurriedly. It was raining. I walked ceaselessly, not looking, not seeing…

Irregularly, within 5 to 10 years, one of the strangest phenomena takes place in the lives of animals. By an urge shared by the species, all lemmings begin a mass migration from the mountains towards the sea. They start moving in a straight line, crowded together, going any rock that blocks their progress, any pile of hay on their way, when they reach a lake or river they enter and swim, meeting a ship they will climb over it back to that imaginary line, forced, as though prohibited from straying away from that straight line. They respond with uncharacteristic aggressiveness to any attempt to stop them. Their progress seems unstoppable. Hundreds of them die on the way. When they reach the sea they continue straight on, into the water, with that same determination, and begin to swim.
Their death is inevitable.
Some of the last lemmings tarry, and as if by decree, turn back and return to their mountain habitat. A new generation gradually g rows for 5-10 years until the next suicide… The Lapp lemming reproduces very fast, and its population grows much too large for the available food in the Scandinavian mountains. Thanks to the mechanism imprinted in them through evolutionary natural selection, some kind of biological sensitivity to the dwindling food sources must have developed in them, and it triggers this urge. Actually, their suicide is vital to their survival. From the point of view of the species (not of the individual), they are carrying out an act of life. But for this 'suicide', they would be extinct… Annihilated.
I reached the water line, my feet walking ahead of me, touching the water. I was cold, my trousers got wet, and I remembered Bat Sheva, the daughter of Bluma, my grandmother's friend, who walked, sweater in hand, to her boy, and died. And then I stopped, the water already around my knees. And turned around.

In the bus I leaned my face against the window pane, next to me were soldiers, their young bodies sour with sweat and dirt. The bus stopped, I walked, I pushed the heavy green gate as I knew would happen, once, and walked in.

The nurse lifted her head and looked at me curiously, measuring me. Are you family? No, no. A friend. From school.
From school?
No one has ever visited here. Twenty years. And I said yes, and my mouth trembled.
She pointed and said, he's over there, on the bench. He's always there, she laughed. Then she got collected herself, facing the yellow door.

I sat down next to him.
My mouth was sewn. I didn't look. Then I looked. It was a fat man, his hair long and thin, his gaze hollow, his body frozen, empty, absent, containing nothing. And I remembered his mother once saying to me, you'll go and leave and you'll be you, and you'll forget us, and I said no way, and she said words, and I thought why is she always cruel, why is she dismissive, who gave her the right.
I knew she died half a year after I stopped going to her, and with her. Not long after that one evening.

"Got any gum?" I heard a voice. "What? Yes" I said. I saw him smile only once, them, after she told him to play the Second. When it was obvious she knew.
He picked up the gum with his handless arms. Made it jump into his mouth. And said,
"hit" and giggled.
And I thought, God.
"Tom", I said.
And he looked at me, and there was softness in his empty eyes, and again he smiled and I saw his teeth for the very first time, and he said "Don't be sad". And I cried, out of the years and to them, and out of love and its loss, for he was not there, he was already gone, there was nothing left of him, for this man is not he, and then I thought I was seeing him happy for the first time ever, his jaw soft.

"Will you come again?"
"Yes", I said.
And meant it.
"Good", he said. "One down".

ON my way back I called my friend and said, "Rachel, don't hang up, I'm sorry." And she said, "You called", and I said, "I don't know anything any more", and she said "Yes".

I understand now that she loved him. That this too is love. I also miss her, and her empty eyes and harsh, hoarse, absolute, undoubting voice, always walking erect and fast, despite her blindness.

And I also think that had I touched her, in spite of not being allowed to, she would have been glad. And he too. And I thought that people honor all kinds of mannerisms too much. And that one shouldn’t wait, and say everything in its time. And I understand they're gone. And that there are no answers. And that I shall go on loving Uri, Rachel's son, although he is off to serve the Occupation and glad about it, and her too, Tom's mother.

And that somehow ideas turn to dust in face of people. Luckily.

And I thought of Abu Omar's mother, to whose face a soldier fastened a tear gas canister and she died. And how Abu Omar went to Mecca and raised his hands to the heavens against everything and for everything, for the sake of Kassem, his little child, whose head is full of shrapnel, and Omar who has high blood pressure although he is only seventeen, and how complexes like mine and Tom's are for people with privilege and spare time, and liberty, and that if Tom and his mom were Palestinians, she would be alive and he would not be in the nuthouse, sapless, some sort of memory curve of one who was and never will be again.
                                                                                                                                              translated by Tal Haran

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