These wounds will never heal. These are wounds that might inhabit a tiny chamber in the very deepest canyons of the mind, but they will never heal.
Physically we might move on. We have to move on, we cannot get stuck and remain immobilized and paralyzed by sorrow. Our physical self will push the sorrow and grief into a small, tiny chamber of the mind, but it will remain there and it will surface from time to time.
I will never forget the massacre of Israel’s Olympic delegation during the 1972 Summer Olympics, when Black September murdered 11 of Israel’s athletes and traumatized the rest. My grandfather’s nephew, my cousin Ya’akov Springer was among those murdered. The memory of that sadness is in one of those tiny chambers inside of me.
I volunteered for Golani. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, I, along with many others, lost friends and saw friends wounded. The reality of that war, the immense losses of life and the traumas of those days of battle are still felt today, by all who lived through that time. The memory of those terrible losses, people I knew and liked, remains in yet another tiny chamber in an uncharted valley deep within my mind. Wounds that can never heal.
Years later, when I had lived in New Jersey for just over a year, on June 25 1992 I got a phone call that brought me the most devastating news. My two best friends, Beno Moshe and Ami Salzman were murdered by Hamas terrorists. They were murdered where they worked, in the Gaza strip, not far from the Nahal Oz crossing. We had worked together in that location for most of the latter half of the 1980’s until I left Israel in April 1991. Their murderers were released from Israeli prison when we ransomed Gilad Shalit.
I carry that day, that phonecall, deep inside of me, in yet another small and dark little chamber buried in a cave in a forgotten valley of my mind. It is another wound that will never heal.
A short while later, a friend, Amatzia Ben-Haim, working in a Ganei Tal hot house in the Gaza strip, was murdered by a Palestinian wanting to become a member of Hamas. Amatzia was murdered on October 12 1992. Amatzia’s murderer was also released as part of yet another “deal” and due to some other “pressure”. Another memory, another tiny dark chamber, buried deep somewhere in a crevasse of my mind, another wound that will not heal.
My youngest daughter went to the Sha’ar HaNegev regional high school for her final year of studies. She and her classmates were among the first to suffer a direct hit from a Kassam rocket fired by Hamas. The rocket crashed through the roof of her classroom, and the students had just enough time to get into one of the reinforced rooms to avoid the unthinkable.
These memories all come back, every last one of them. They wash over me, they bathe me with survivor’s guilt and they open wounds that were covered in scar tissue years and years ago. And I know that all of Israel, the soldiers, the reservists, the children and their parents, all of them will, like me, heal the physical wounds.
We will rebuild the homes destroyed or damaged. We will get new cars and we will repair the roads. But, we will all of us remain wounded in our collective Jewish soul because of yet another affront to our common desire to live peacefully in our tiny corner of the world.
So look around. When yet another battle for our collective survival becomes a memory, look around. Let this feeling of unity and support for one another last, and let it carry over into our day to day. Don’t let it slip away because you can no longer see the wounds. They are there, believe me. They are there because these wounds will never heal.
Keep this momentum of unity going. Keep it going for those wonderful, brave soldiers who gave their lives to that Israel can and will live. Keep it going for those who were wounded, citizen and soldier alike. Keep it going for all those who are repairing their homes and their lives. Keep this feeling alive so that our collective wounds of the soul will not have to resurface so often.