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Every Man Has a Name


Every Man Has a Name
By  Zelda Mishkovsky (limited by my translation)

Every man has a name
That was given to him by god
And was given to him by his father and mother
Every man has a name
That was given to him by his stature and smile
That was given to him by his clothes
Every man has a name
That was given to him by the mountains
And was given to him by his walls
Every man has a name
That was given to him by the zodiac
And was given to him by his neighbors
Every man has a name
That was given to him by his sins
And was given to him by his longing
Every man has a name
That was given to him by his haters
And was given to him by his love
Every man has a name
That was given to him by his holy days
And was given to him by his craft
Every man has a name
That was given to him by the seasons
And was given to him by his blindness
Every man has a name
That was given to him by the sea
And was given to him
By his death

The " Every Man Has a Name" Legacy
The above poem has, long ago, been adopted by Yad Vashem (the project documenting the history of the Jewish people during the Holocaust period). The idea behind the "Every Man Has a Name" subproject is quite simple, literal and poetic: To, at least, document the names of the people that died during the Holocaust.

Every year, on Holocaust Memorial Day, in the parliament, members of parliament, youth organizations, and families of the deceased say out-loud the names that have been painstakingly collected by the Yad Vashem organization. When the Jewish youth of Israel are taken to Poland, to the remainders of death camps, they say these names. (Maybe one day I’ll write about what this does to a young person’s mind.) When memorial ceremonies are held across Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day, this poem is either sung or recited.

The Twist of " Every Man Has a Name"

I’m hoping that I’ve managed to convey the importance of "Every Man Has a Name", in the mind of a Jew. "Every Man Has a Name" is not just a poem, but a concept of self determination. So you can imagine how outraged I must have been, when in one week, I saw this concept violated twice, by the Israeli media. (Not that I’m Jewish, but that’s a whole other Pandora’s box.)

Two different articles, in two different papers, of two different cases. The one in Ha’aretz said:

"The Israel Border Police on Friday killed a 14-year-old Palestinian in Hebron during a clash between the Israeli forces and stone-throwing Palestinian youths. "

The one in Yediot Acharonot (hebrew) said (limited by my translation):

"Eran, Lydia and Rann were returning from a night out, in Jerusalem, on the way to Ariel. At some point, the driver attempted to bypass, in a no bypass zone, and crashed into a Palestinian cab that was driving in his direction. As a result, the three in the car were killed. The six passengers of the Palestinian cab were wounded, one in critical condition. A team of the Red Crescent  evacuated the Palestinian wounded to the Ramallah hospital."

I can count off the minimal number of words used to tell the stories of a 14 year-old boy and six other Palestinians. Or talk about how the article in Ha’aretz makes sure I understand it was the Palestinians’ fault. But that’s not what really bugged me. What really bugged me enraged me was that these human beings have no names. Not the "14 year-old stone-thrower" and not the "six Palestinians in the Palestinian cab".

Eran Shochat, Lydia Hason and Rann Ostri have names. The 271-word article tells of their  grieving families. It tells that the families are close to one-another. That the three were inseparable. That Lydia loved children and wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. (On a political point, it also states that they are from Ariel- the West Bank- Settlers.)

Talk Back
So humanizing was the Yediot Acharonot article that the comments were mostly along the lines of:

"The heart weeps…Horrifying… May we never know more grief." (#80)

So dehumanizing was the Ha’aretz article that, along the constant political debate, you can always find this:

"16 Words for one 14 yr old killed possibly by trigger happy soldiers!?. Isnt that a waste of space?! I believe anything below 100 palestinian deaths is not newsworthy. Mostly because Israeli casualties are more sacred than any other. 100:1 What say?!" (#2)

I searched everywhere for other documentation of these incidents, but just couldn’t find anything, let alone a name.

 

 

 

 

 

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