Last weekend, I got engaged. I’m over the moon–but that isn’t surprising. What’s been astonishing is the outpouring of joy from friends and family. My friend Rachel, three weeks away from her own wedding, tells me that she feels an engagement or wedding gives your community both permission and a specific moment to express their delight and approval over your relationship.
I bring this up in reference to something else, something terrible. Israeli writer David Grossman’s son died in Lebanon on Saturday. Uri Grossman was 20, a tank commander, three months from finishing his service.
David Grossman is one of the most sensitive, acute thinkers, activists and writers in Israel and on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In last week’s NY Times Magazine article, Bernard-Henri Lévy called him one of Israel’s moral consciences–this is true. That his son would be the 24th soldier to die is the rare irony that creates not wry distance but rather immediate devastation.
My own response, of course, is entirely personal–Vered and I had the privilege of co-translating two of his novels. My family is Israeli, and the past month I’ve been on edge, nervous, scared, angry. I’m confronted continuously with Bay Area liberals who, paradoxically, do not know how to demonstrate for peace without picking a side to root for (that being, whomever they consider the underdog). They call Israelis, not Hezbollah, terrorists. Both of my cousins who have been called for reserve duty are fathers of newborn children.
I now have a chance to mourn the tragedy of the past month. I can cry, can feel entirely as sad as I’ve been feeling. I would anything that it weren’t so.