Mideast conflict hits close to homeYour turn: What can anyone possibly say to parents who lose a child to conflict? Why are mere words so inadequate at a time like this?
Published Saturday, July 15, 2006
The London Free Press
His name was Yaniv. I didn’t know him directly, but I might as well have.
His grandparents have been friends with my parents since long before I was born. I grew up thinking of them as family.
Before Yaniv was born, I taught his older brother, Eitan, to swim at the local pool. He and his parents lived in Israel, but were visiting Canada for the summer. I would chat with his grandparents about his progress when they came to pick him up.
For years afterward, whenever I went back to Montreal for a visit, I’d sit beside his grandfather and watch his face light up as he shared news about his ever-growing grandchildren.
Sgt. Yaniv Baron, 20, died Wednesday when his tank hit a landmine. He was entering Lebanon as part of the Israel Defence Forces effort to rescue two kidnapped soldiers. The other three soldiers in his tank also perished.
Nothing can ever possibly justify the loss of a child. But knowing he died trying to rescue his comrades and protect his country has to be worth something.
One more thing: I often find the most idiotic commentary on pretty much anything is rendered by those who are most distant from the topic. Such seems to be the case with the current crisis in Israel and Lebanon. It's easy to write about what's going on from a 30,000-foot perspective, as every other columnist around me seems to have done in today's paper. More difficult is to depict the human cost of conflict when those close to you lose a child.
My columns are always published with a personal e-mail address at the bottom. As I often do when I write about Jewish- or Israel-related issues, I'm sure I'll hear from the usual assortment of ill-informed folks who are just itching for an opportunity to sound off on the big regional bully known as Israel (please note sarcasm.)
If only they understood the true nature of a conflict whose roots extend to the fact that Israel is surrounded by terrorists and sponsoring nations who won't stop their pressure until every last Israeli citizen is driven into the sea. If you're unschooled on the mideast conflict, start your studies with the concept of basic recognition of the State of Israel. You might be surprised at what you find.
In the meantime, I pray for the soul of a child whose life I heard about through friends, and for a family now grieving the ultimate and unspeakable tragedy of burying their son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.