"To save one life is as if you have saved the world" (the Talmud)
During WWII, after a German V-2 rocket attack killed a child in London, Dylan Thomas wrote his famous poem:
A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London
Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness
And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn
The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.
Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.
Dylan Thomas was not accepted into the British military but hated the Nazis and used his skill with words to support the Allied fight.
The West now faces another implacable, unappeasable enemy bent on genocide, using the same terror tactics as the Nazis including unguided terror rockets, and once again a child's death has become emblematic.
I join Dylan Thomas in refusing to mourn the death of a child and I think it is worth explaining why.
lEvery life is precious. The Jews toast each other with "L'Chaim", which means "to life!" Our enemies see that as a weakness and boast of how they love death. "To life!" is central to the Jewish ethic.
So how do I justify refusing to mourn the death of the children of Qana?
Dylan Thomas knew, with the sensitivity of a poet, that a child's death is the greatest tragedy, yet he refused to mourn the child's death. He valued life and loved life. He would later exhort his father:
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dieing of the light.
Yet Dylan Thomas also knew that when we mourn we must invest great energy into the process of letting go of the loved and valued lost soul. By doing so, we risk taking our energy away from the essential job at hand, winning the battle against an evil enemy. Just so with the children of Qana; just so with the dead Israeli children who are ignored by our Media, perhaps because their pictures are not so iconic. We must save our mourning for these and future victims until we have stopped the targeting and use of children as weapons.
Our mourning, the appeal to the best within us, is a weapon that our enemy uses to weaken our ability to fight. The Arab propaganda machine, schooled in the ways of Goebbels, aided and abetted by fools in the Western media, are doing all they can to create the illusion of moral equivalence and stop the Israelis from their systematic destruction of Hezbollah's terror capabilities. To stop the fight now is to guarantee more innocent victims later. That is the height of immorality.
This morning, listening to the BBC, I heard a report about how popular opinion has changed in this war. At first, Israel was seen as in the right for responding to an attack across their border. Yet, even before the events at Qana, the mood among the British population was swinging toward the view that the Israeli response was disproportionate. On British TV, apparently, images of the death of Lebanese civilians and the destruction of Lebanese infrastructure has been a non-stop feature of BBC programming. On the radio they describe in detail the damage done to Lebanese infrastructure and the mounting death toll among Lebanese civilians. At no point in the broadcast, which went on for a good ten minutes this morning, was there any context. There was no discussion of Hezbollah rockets fired randomly in terror attacks against Israeli civilians; there was no mention of Hezbollah shooting rockets from behind innocent (and some not so innocent) human shields; no mention of Hezbollah fighters mingling with the civilians with nothing to differentiate them from non-combatants. EVERYTHING THAT HEZBOLLAH DOES IS A WAR CRIME! Yet the international press omits this in their haste to show dead children who are being used as weapons.
One day, soon I hope, I will mourn the loss of every innocent life, and even mourn the foolishness and the loss of life of our enemies, but that must wait until they are destroyed and their ability to kill more children is ended.
For now I have no tears and no sadness for the victims at Qana; my morality demands that I make my small attempt to help, with my words, the battle against the evil scourge of those who worship death.
After the first death, there is no other.