Saturday, July 15, 2006

Publish Day - Ink Blog - The personal price of war

My phone rang Thursday night. My mother was on the phone, and I immediately knew from the sound of her voice that she had terrible news. Read on...
Mideast conflict hits close to home
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.

Your 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?

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.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

When a disaster occurs, and a loved one is nearby, the thoughts one can have are horrifying.

Michele sent me here.

jennypenny said...

Wow Carmi. What a moving story of a life cut all too short in such unecessary violence. We will all pray for his soul as well as those who have gone too soon before him. And yes, it is worth something to know that he was trying to rescue his fellow soldiers.. a hero for sure.

As for your question, there is nothing you can say. Words will never touch thier hurt and pain but I guess all you can say is how sorry you are for thier loss. Beyond that, you are the one so gifted with words. I am sure you will think of something.

Florence Forrest said...

The tv always shows the explosions like they were fireworks, however I always think of the lives ruined and in crises.

Hi Carmi good to finally comment here and say hi. Here via Michele's.

Mike said...

Another great story Carmi. It is always difficult when someone looses a child for any reason. Unfortunately it looks like there will be more people dying in the middle east.

Here from Michele

rashbre said...

I sometimes visit Israel and have several good friends there. It is, however, one of the places where I always walk around with a heightened awareness of danger.

Whether its Tel-Aviv airport with the bus station next to the taxi line (buses are used as bombs) or driving along a motorway and being passed by a guy on a scooter with a revolver on his belt, or being swept with a metal detector on the way into a cake shop, the feelings of worry are always there. I've almost stopped visiting some areas because of the indiscriminate bombings.

The Middle East is in a delicate balance and, as you say, I cannot understand the dynamics. Responses are often asymmetric and this further adds to the complexities.

The current escalation is dangerous for the whole region which sadly appears in a near permanent state of crisis.

Karen said...

Carmi, please accept my condolences to you and your family on this loss. The loss of any child is the worst tragedy a person can bear. I only pray that one day our children will live in a world without violence, but I'm sure that I'm just dreaming. Thank you for sharing this story.

Michele sent me this morning. I'm glad, but sad at this news.

Anonymous said...

This is a hard subject to wake up to. I feel for everyone involved and feel a bit hopeless about the situation there and in Iraq now.

kimmyk said...

Sorry to hear about your "friend".

When we were stationed at Ft Benning while in the Army and my "honey" was sent over seas the only comfort that I had was knowing he loved his job. He would tell me "You pray everyday I don't see action while I trained and prayed everyday that I would".

Unfortunately, it's not just the soldier who pays the ultimate sacrifice. My thoughts go out to his family.

-Here today via Michele's.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know what you can say other than "I'm sorry." Helpless, sad, it's just a tragedy. Life is so precious. I wish these warring nations (including my own nation) would take it that way. I'm sad for Israel and Lebanon. Sad for the world

srp said...

Most reporters want to play the "blame" game but they leave out the obvious fact that essentially all the surrounding countries have one goal in mind and that is to wipe out Israel. This is the same goal as Hitler had in World War II, even though there are those who still try to rewrite that fact. If people studied ancient history they would learn that Israels Biblical promised land extends far beyond what exists today.

There is nothing to say to someone who loses a child, for any reason. All we can do is offer our heartfelt condolences and our hands in friendship.

Anonymous said...

Hello Carmi-

I wrote about this issue on my blog the other day - but not before I went over what I knew already, what I have learned over the last 3 years a lifetime of observation and I studied the situation from a number of news outlets and my reading of international press, so that I would be able to write something coherent and useful to my readers.

Sometimes I want to write about certain topics that are outside my perview of understanding, but I learn and study my topics before I write, especially about the Middle East, I guess it is also because Concordia is so charged with religious tension, and I am on the University Blog list.

I must be careful and I must walk the line of objectivity, although I think if you read my post - You can tell where I sit (politically) on this issue.

I also have friends who live in Israeli settlements and their sons are in the Israeli military, and I have yet to hear from them since I wrote them days ago.

Studying Religion gives one "one perspective" into this conflict, many do not have any perspective and they still think they can write an "informed" piece of publishing.

Ther are no "right words" to speak when a child dies, I think it is worse when death comes amid a military conflict - many parents have had to deal with that since conflict exists on many fronts. All I can do is offer my condolences and my prayers.

And my prayer is that this ends with some peaceful resolution - alas, that may not happen, I guess we shall see how far escalation can go - we are not there yet...

You set the bar for those of us who write (and I as an amateur) try to follow the guidelines you have taught me as a writer, I work to be informed and write well. So keep writing because You help the rest of us who read here.


Sarah Jane said...

Hello from the other London Carmi. I read the guardian every weekend and the past couple of weeks have been grim. I just can't believe how much sadness and violence there is out there. I'm sorry for your loss, the loss of another person due to the madness of war.

Jill said...

I think that when a child dies, a part of one's heart and soul will ache forever. Forever. On a primal level that can never again be touched or ultimately healed. It's easily the worst pain that I've ever seen a person endure. I'm sorry to hear about your family friend. And I was sorry to hear about the escalation of violence (again) against Isreal. To live in a land that is constantly attacked takes a strength and conviction of gigantic proportions. The desire to utterly erase the existence of any culture is so very wrong. I simply don't know how we can ever expect a resolution when one side is so completely unwilling to compromise.

utenzi said...

Michele sent me, Carmi.

While I'm not Jewish my ex-wife is so I was involved with a lot of secular and religious activities of the Jewish sort. I'll tell you, that riding in a chair after the wedding was one weird feeling! Israel, of course, was a frequent topic at meals and Liz (my Ex) and many of her relatives had spent at least a Summer at a kibbutz and some had many several trips since. But even in that group there was little consensus on what should go on. Regarding US aid to Israel, the Israeli military, physical expansion--it was always a lively discussion.

Thumper said...

The only thing you can say to someone who has lost a child--no matter how--is that you're so, so sorry...Nothing is going to take the sting out of it, but they'll remember genuine sorrwow over their loss.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your family friend.

Being a new momma, I cannot bear the thought of losing my child. Even daring to think about it makes me physically ill. I cannot imagine that anything in life is ever as good or as happy as it was before.

Panthergirl said...

I agree, Carmi. That is such a sad and tragic story. And so true, that people are very quck to judge situations that they know nothing about. Think about it: People do it not just about warring nations, but about personal relationships like divorce. I always say, "Unless you live inside that couple's home, you have no idea." And the same is true for the conflict in the Middle East.

Pickalish said...

You can't say anything. Nothing will comfort, or bring an aching heart to rest. Nothing but time. In instances where i've had to provide condolences in very hard situations, I always say something short and sincere like: There's no way I can know the pain in your heart. I won't pretend to....but I offer my deepest sympathies, and want you to know your family is in my prayers. What else can you do?

Florence Forrest said...

Hi Carmi, Back via Michele's. Reading the long and heartfelt comments here has been good.

Shannon akaMonty said...

I don't typically post about such things for that VERY reason~I feel that I'm too far removed to know whereof I speak.

I rely on people like you who can tell me the story and make me feel it.
Thank you.

And Michele sent me today! (I'm always happy to visit here!)

Anonymous said...

There is nothing you can say to parents that lose a child, or to a spouse, worse yet is trying to talk to a 3 year old boy. There simply are not words that work. Thankfully I never had to carry out that duty, everyone that had me on their identification team is still around, but for my friends that did it they say it's the most difficult thing they've ever done, and their role was always a just be there role, not a speaking part. As horrible an answer as violence may be, it can be a better solution than capitulation.

Michele sent me.

Catherine said...

I'm sure there are people on both sides - including innocent bystanders - who have far more knowledge of this conflict than I do, so I don't try to comment. I'm sorry for the loss of your family's friend.
Michele sent me today.

Sandy J said...

Carmi, my heart goes out to you and your family and the family of the brave warrior who lost his life while serving others.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss.
As well as theirs..

Kristal said...

The problems of this world are often used as 'talking points' by politicians, but you're right ~ there is a human element to every story. It isn't just news, it is someone's life. Every single person that dies as a result of war/conflict is someone's brother, son, father, sister, daughter, mother.

Here via Michele.

Anonymous said...

Michele sent me...

There's a line in one of the songs from "Rent" which says, "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation."

I have to agree.

I have no words to offer. There isn't anything that takes away that pain. Sometimes, I think the Star Trek writers came up with the only adequate response to offer - "I grive with thee" --

But you're a powerful writer, and will find the perfect words of solace, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to you on this tragic loss.
An excellent column, Carmi. You said it all and the way it should be said. And yes, no doubt you'll receive the negatives...they'll always be those that disagree.
Losing a child is just not the natural order of things.

Anonymous said...

Words do fail me, Carmi. I am deeply sorry for your loss. It is all the more heart-breaking when these tragic situations hit one so close to home.

Anonymous said...

IDF has some of the toughest troops in the world. This young man was the best of the best and ten times the man I am for having the courage to climb into the confines of a Merkava (perhaps a MK3) and crossing into the heat of battle. May his family find peace and some comfort in knowing that he gave his life for comrads, family and nation.


I was going to talk Nikon Telephoto, but save it for another day. I am sorry for your loss Carmi.

Jennifer said...

i dont know what you say to something like that carmi... except i'm sorry to hear the news. so sad. will a cyber hug help? (((((hug)))))

Diane said...

You are truly a good soul and a voice of reason, Carmi. It's too bad that many others in the world aren't. I am thinking about your friends and many others in the world.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Terrible, Terrible Carmi...
(I've been off the net quite a bit because if Power Outages all this weekend so I missed this post...but I'm catching up now.)

There is no way to measure the cost of loosing a possible way....I am so sorry for the loss to those you know...Very very sad, my dear Carmi. My thoughts and my heart go out to them and you.
And you are soooo right about the fact that Isreal is surroubded the way it is and has been for as long as anyone can recount...

Shephard said...

No words suffice. I send thoughts that we all cling to.. hope. Believing good will eventually triumph over evil, as Ghandi said it always does. The waiting and the loss is sometimes unbearable.
My sincere condolences.

Sandy said...

I have cousins I've never met. They are actually the children of my grandmother's cousins. They live in Israel. When I hear of terrorist and violence in that region, my heart skips a little beat as I wonder about those far off relatives - distant in so many ways.

What can one ever really say to comfort a parent, other than I am so very sorry for your loss? To this instance I'd add: your son died a hero - sacrificing his life in the fight to save another, not to mention an entire nation. May God bless him and all who carry on the fight.

Carmi, my sympathies to you as well. As difficult as hate and war is to take in general, it's harder when it hits home by putting a face and name to it.

Carola said...

i just finished watching "Tears of the Sun" not long ago... so reading this just only saddend my heart more.

i hate war in every sense of the word...

Im sorry about Yaniv: because he was so young, and because he died in a fight that shouldn't be going on, or that he should've been fighting.

The sad thing about war - its always going on, just sometimes we dont hear about it till it gets big enough to bother people...

i hope his family dont think about this as a loss,(even tho it is) but think of what he did in their lives that made him special to them. The man he became. The love for his grandparents. The hope for the future.

Peace be with them. I pray for this. And for you too... not really knowing someone still has that part where you DID know that someone.

I wish the world would love each other.

barbie2be said...

i can't say that i understand the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, because i don't. but seeing all the young people dying there and in Iraq/Afghanistan just horrifies me.

no parent should have to bury a child, and make no mistake... most of those dying in these conflicts are children.

persia said...

My condolences as well Carmi. I hope he had a relatively full and satisfying life -- up to this last chapter of course -- to look back upon and remember.

Our most troubling and fearful thoughts are about things that we cannot understand. War is so distant from any right-minded person's schema, their model of how everything fits together, that there is no understanding of it, no way to give it a logical spin. And we don't have any higher level perspective to understand death either. "I'm sorry" along with support is about all we can do.