David Grossman, one of Israel’s most distinguished novelists and an ardent supporter of Palestinian human rights, lost his son, Uri today in the fighting in south Lebanon. The irony of it all is too painful to contemplate. Here is a man who carries the ultimate pedigree as an Israeli humanist, a man who wrote the quintessential book, The Yellow Wind (1987), advocating a more humane approach to the Palestinians, loses his cherished boy. And there is added irony in that Uri Grossman will perhaps be one of the last Israelis to fall in this war (if the ceasefire holds up–a big question). Why did it happen to such a one? Why is God not just when he decides who must go?
Another irony is that Grossman, the noted peace activist, joined many other Israeli progressives in supporting the Lebanon war. He felt that the war was a just response to Hezbollah’s provocation. He only broke with Olmert’s war when he announced the widening of the operation and its new goal of taking the Litani. Needless to say, this is a judgment I find lacking.
Without being too ghoulish, I wonder how this horrible tragedy will shape his future views on the Israeli-Arab conflict. Will he continue to believe that the war was initially just? Will his views become more hardened (I hope not).
The NY Times coverage of this story quotes this telling passage regarding Grossman’s questioning of how he would morally educate his children in the face of injustice like that of Israel’s Occupation:
In “The Yellow Wind,” written when Uri was about a year old, David Grossman wrote: “Into what reality are children to be educated? How fuzzy can the lesson I give to my sons be? Maybe I do them an injustice when I bring them up with certain values and do not prepare them for the brutal life we live here?”
But we must leave those questions for a future day and wish Mr. Grossman and his family comfort and consolation on such a tragic loss. Ha-makom yinachem etchem (“God comfort you”).