I am Daniel Tragerman

The whole world knows Daniel Tragerman now. None of us will ever meet him, or play with him and teach him a bunch of random trivia; not anymore, but everybody knows his name.

Everyone knows Gilad, Naftaly, and Eyal, kidnapped and killed. It says something that we don’t know their surnames anymore, they are known by their first, much in the manner of angels.

The world will probably never know Ahed Baker, Muhammed Baker, Zakaria Baker and Ismail Baker, largely because four out of four hundred is harder to track, and because no one is listening. Their death is statistical, possibly illegal, definitely atrocious, but let’s be honest, it’s a blip. They will forever be: “the four Palestinian kids killed on a beach.”

Gilad, Daniel, Naftaly and Eyal are victims; Ahed, Muhammed, Zakaria and Ismail are collateral damage.

Gilad, Daniel, Naftaly and Eyal’s death are Hamas’ fault, but then so are Ahed, Muhammed, Zakaria and Ismail’s apparently, even though they were shot by an F16 while playing on a beach.

And this is what hurts the most, the realization that I suffer more for the four Israelis than the four Palestinians because four are casualties, but four hundred are a crowd, or a pile, or a pyre, at any rate nothing you can distinguish, nothing you can define, a faceless lump that you can pity, but there are levels of horror you just can’t process. I often imagine that of Dresden after the Allied carpet bombing in the final days of WWII. Sad, tragic even; but in a generally gross kind of way.

No one can truly understand the pain of millions, but we can relate to one individual, know their story, hear their dreams denied, and in the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, where there is no accountability, no sense of balance nor measure, Prime Minister Netanyahu rides the horse bridled by his more unsavory political allies and promises that the perpetrators will pay.

How will they pay? Will the IDF kill their wife and children as in the recent botched targeted assassination on Hamas, or will another family suffer countless casualties in the name of Hamas?

Come to think of it, I don’t know who the kids are that died at the UNRWA school. I don’t know if it’s a war crime or not, the HRC investigation will tell, I know that Hamas keeps rocket caches in schools, but again, the casualties go nameless, their death less significant than the politics behind it, than the enormity of what happened, than the never ending blame game.

But imagine; if one child dies and the Prime Minister promises retaliation, what eight hundred or so parents are saying on the other side.

More civilians will die in the name of civilians being targeted; more children will die in the name of one child dying, and they will remain nameless, because there’s so many names, and how are you gonna distinguish between a hundred dead Mohammeds anyway?

The pain of Israelis today is real, pain leads to anger, anger to hatred and hatred to suffering, and if little green men don’t convince you about the spiral of chaos, just ask yourselves, how long is this gonna go on for? Has Israel accepted a permanent state of contained “insecurity” to justify the nonexistent Peace Process?

I hear the government say they are sorry for every casualty; that they suffer for the innocent children taken hostage, and killed by Hamas’ recklessness in Gaza. I’ll believe that when their names are read at the Knesset as victims, just as those of the Jewish Israeli youth.

If Israelis were told the story of each dead Palestinian child, had to attend a funeral for them as victims of the same enemy, were made to see pictures of them, hear their dreams denied, know their story and relate to them, you’d see less gung ho enthusiasm for the next Gaza operation.

At the moment, victims in Gaza are justified as being victims of Hamas, but they are also held accountable for their own deaths. After all they voted them in didn’t they? They’re not actively overthrowing them are they, as Howard Stern so eloquently put it?

They are victims when it’s useful, and blamable at will otherwise. It must be very convenient, as long as you’re not a Gazaoui that is.

I know Daniel Tragerman now, I share his pain, and his family’s and I am better for it, except I don’t know who is dying in Gaza right now, and even when I will, it probably won’t matter much.

I would love for someone to do this: to go and speak to the families of the dead Israeli children, to the families of the dead Palestinian children, and write their stories in the same book, quote their parents in the same book, and have them all celebrated every time a child dies in this increasingly nonsensical conflict, so that their memories at least are One, if they couldn’t meet each other and play together in their days on earth.

About the Author
Mame Bougouma Diene is a civil servant on permanent vacation even when he works 70 hours a week, who also blogs for the Times of Israel in French. He's French-Senegalese American, loves Israel and the Middle East, would really like to see an end to this intractable mess in his lifetime.