Itamar

My name is Chava. That’s Eve, as in Adam and Eve’s Hebrew name. When I introduce myself that way many people wonder if I’m Israeli.

No, I answer, not even close. I’m American, born in Detroit. My parents are from Canada and England, and their parents are all Russian. But still my name is Hebrew because as a Jew, Hebrew has always been my family’s second language.

It’s almost a week since two men came through a living room window in middle of the night and slaughtered five of eight family members in Itamar, in Israel. They killed the parents, a 3 month old daughter in her father’s arms, and two boys. Inside  me there is a pain that’s silent and very loud and too much to tame.

It’s a lonely pain because when I walk outside the door I knew that this pain makes me different from most other Americans. This pain marks me as a Jew. To most people it’s at best a shocking news item, at worst a propaganda tool against settlers. To me, it’s a personal attack.

It’s lonely also because I know that for many this murder is inconvenient. Long ago, they’ve decided who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in the Middle East Peace Process and a murder likes this makes it hard to paint the Palestinians as victims. The solution is to ignore it altogether, as though a family, a community, and a Jewish Angaleno, haven’t been stabbed and beaten, and then asked to clean up the congealed, deep red blood of their fallen.

It’s a lonely pain because I know that for many the massacre is a trophy. Finally, they’ll see – say the Jewish bloggers. And when the world refuses to see, it is their chance to denounce Islam, the American left, the Israeli left, the brainwashed West and anyone who can’t feel the same searing pain as they do.

I am old enough to know that there will always be sides, and too young to accept that it has to be that way. When a family is murdered it makes no difference who took whose house sixty years ago. It barely makes a difference in the name of which God, and in pursuit of which happiness it was committed.

What matters is that you feel my pain. I wish I didn’t need that, but in my head, what I’m begging is for you to feel this pain, to allow this pain to exist, instead of wishing it away with winded rhetoric of victims and aggressors and histories you yourself invented. Because of this pain that boils inside you like desperate unnamed sadness, hug your children, make soup for your neighbor, and refuse to watch anything that glorifies evil, or insists that the line between the two doesn’t exist.