There is something absolutely horrifying about having to add those two letters, Z”L, after the name of a four year old child. A beautiful child. As I posted his memorial picture, I saw how his determined face and little boy’s stance so resembled my nephew’s at that young age. I remembered my own son on his fourth birthday, telling me how he wanted to stay four forever. What can one possibly say to Gila and Doron Tragerman, Daniel’s parents, that could salve such a gaping and bloody wound? We say, May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. We say it because whether we feel that searing pain or not, we are all diminished, we have all lost.
Thinking further on that, I recall a conversation with my middle sister, also Z”L, who was teaching English in the Israeli public schools during the “intifada” started by Yasser Arafat after he was brought to Ramallah to be the boss of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.). She told me that the P.A. was picking up children after school in buses to bring them to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers for the TV cameras — and any mother who tried to protect her kid from participating in these activities was being ostracized and threatened.
It takes quite a lot of twisting and mental burning to warp a mother, the bridge on which children walk into this life, to the point where she will actually encourage and celebrate the “martyrdom” of her own child — but we’ve seen it happen. It is the “logical” extension of the after-school bus program to go throw rocks and molotov cocktails. It is the “logical” extension of dressing up a toddler in a little outfit with a green headband and giving him a stuffed rocket to brandish, as seen last week at a pro-Hamas demonstration held in the West Bank.
A toy rocket and a terrorist costume. This is when a heart begins to die. A mortar launch and a child’s funeral. This is when a heart bleeds, but remains alive. May Daniel’s memory be for a blessing.