“Why do you ruin all my years?” Forlorn
is this lament that we associate with aging.
In Yiddish vos dergeystu mir di yorn?
sounds far less powerful than Dylan’s raging
against the night, the blame cast not against
the people who have been the cause of tsorres
rather than the horror, that past-tensed,
prevents us seizing every day, as Horace
advised us when declaring carpe diem.
It’s not the fault of others that our years
are ruined. By being transformed into P.M.,
A.M. disintegrates and disappears,
and we search for targets we can blame.
Vos dergeystu mir di yoren? isn’t right.
Old age, while putting everyone to shame,
is when we should blame nothing but the night,
as we should not blame any Jews for killing
civilians in a tragedy for which Hamas
planned wickedly, by poisonously instilling
hate as deplorable as poison gas.
Rage, rage against Hamas as we all must
against gas poisoners of millions of Jews,
while treating Hamas with as little trust
as Nazis we of Holocaust accuse.
While all verses of this poem except for the last two quatrains were inspired by Dylan Thomas’s famous poem , “Do Not Go Gentle,” the last quatrain was inspired by Ruth Wisse. On 1/17/23 the WSJ published an article by this distinguished emerita professor at Harvard University, “Anti-Zionism Is a More Malevolent Form of Anti-Semitism: It not only butchers Jews but consigns Palestinian civilians to the role of cannon fodder,” in which she wrote,
Arab and Muslim leaders weren’t alone in promoting anti-Zionism. The Soviet bloc joined in passing the 1975 United Nations resolution that equated Zionism with racism, which forged the anti-Israel coalitions now prominent on every major American college campus. Soviet anti-Zionism, directed against Jewish religion and nationality, helped unite socialist internationalists with every other kind of anti-Semite. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, shares the goals of Hamas even as he competes with it for governance, and he was educated in anti-Zionism at Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow. Palestinian West Bank celebrants of the Hamas massacre tell us what they would do given the chance.
This is how anti-Zionism has grown to exceed anti-Semitism in malevolence. To blame Israel for occupying Arab land, it was necessary to keep the Palestinian population permanently displaced. That is why the Arab League never accepted the partition of Palestine and why the Palestinians have never built their state in the West Bank or Gaza. Anti-Zionism demands the continuing sacrifice of the Palestinians. The destruction of Gaza is the real object of the Hamas attack on Israel. Butchering Jews to prove Arab bravery was the minor goal, but the main goal was to ensure that Jews are blamed for killing Palestinians.
Ruth Wisse’s article was astonishingly prescient, because on the day this article was published, Hamas claimed that an Israeli airstrike had caused a blast at the Ahli Arab Hospital, killing a staggering number of civilians. This alleged claim caused anti-Israel demonstrations in many Arab countries, reversing opposition to Hamas in many. It is interesting to note that it quite conveniently – for Hamas – almost pre-empted a visit by a peace-searching President Biden. However, Israel denies that it fired the missile that had caused the deaths of all those Palestinian civilians. Such a move would have been counter-productive. The weapon was probably fired either accidentally or deliberately by Hamas or Islamic Jihad, a group with a similar murderous program, in order to generate hostility against Israel by falsely blaming it for butchery of Palestinians, a lie that my poem’s conclusion implies is as blatant as the crime of Holocaust denial.