Yesterday, I visited the ruins of Kibbutz Be’eri with soldiers in my IDF unit. As I saw the scenes of barbaric devastation, I recalled the poem “In the City of Slaughter” written by Bialik 120 years ago.
Below is an extract from the poem written after Bilaik witnessed the scenes of the pogrom in Kishinev, Ukraine. “Only” 49 Jews were killed, as opposed to the 1,400 Jews slain, raped, burned, decapitated, tortured and brutalized on the dark day of October 7.
Arise, go forth to the city of the slaughter, and come to the courtyards,
And with your own eyes you will see, and with your hand you will feel on the fences, on the trees, on the stones, and on the plaster on the walls the congealed blood, and the hardened brains of the corpses.
Come from here to the ruins, and pass over the breaches,
pass by the broken walls and smashed ovens;
In the place where the destroyer’s shattering deepened, widened, and enlarged the holes.For God called forth the spring and the slaughterer together: The sun shone, the Acacia blossomed, and the slaughterer slaughtered.
The sentiments are the same. The sense of disbelief at the evil of mankind, the slaughter of innocents, the evil hatred of the enemy, the apathy (and sometimes support and bitter anti-semitism) of the world. The major difference is that today we Jews are not weak and defenceless anymore. We are strong. We have a strong nation, people, and a powerful and just Israel Defense Forces. We will win this war against evil together. At this juncture in our history, 120 years after Bialik penned his immortal words, we are no longer helpless and “never again” really means NEVER AGAIN. Am Yisrael Chai!