Friday, July 18, 2008

Funerals, Rallies, Markets and Bars

All week I have been mulling over the scenes from the news. Wednesday morning we watched in silence as two black coffins were handed over by Hezbollah. The sound of the coffins touching the ground was the first confirmation the Regev and Goldwasser families received of the deaths of their sons. Two black coffins drove silently from the northern border to the grieving families. Israel turned over the bodies of 199 Hezbollah dead and five captured terrorists, the most astonishing of all was Sumar Kuntar who was granted an official pardon in order to facilitate his release. Kuntar received a hero's welcome in Lebanon. He walked off the airplane on a red carpet to cheers and praise. This brutal murderer received accolades in Lebanon while here in Israel there were only tears and bewilderment. The image of two black coffins and red carpets remain seared in my heart. The light of the full moon illuminated the distinction between good and evil. The chasm between those on either side of our northern border added to my despair.
For me this despair was finally lifted when I listened to a friend and accompanied him to Mahane Yehuda. The market stalls were closed. In their place was a bar set up in the middle of the street filled with hundreds of Israelis smoking and drinking, dancing and singing. We listened together to a band playing a unique blend of jazz, Sephardic and Klezmer music. Here tears and despair do not last for months and years. This morning there were tears. Now there is only laughter and music. The streets and bars are filled with the noise of a city that loves life and celebration. Although today was the 17th of Tammuz yesterday's sadness no longer colored the air. This evening, joy was painted across the night sky with a glistening, although waning, full moon.

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