Last Month, Hamas Murdered My Friend's Father

The blank horror of the murder, the savagery, out of nowhere, an elderly couple, returning from a doctors’ appointment, defenseless. Yes, all very clear.

The family is from Baghdad and Erbil. They left in the wake of the Farhud pogrom of 1941 amid the growing fears of Iraq’s Jews as Arab nationalism rose and painted their doors in anticipation of slaughters to come and what might be inherited.

Jerusalem. The Seventh Armored Brigade. The wars of establishment and defense. Five children. Fourteen grandchildren. Life ending on a bright Jerusalem morning. All their fine sons not able to help them.

"We’re not here for a short time. We’re here to stay. We’re in a long struggle," Menash told me, as we sat on the sofa in his parents’ apartment. "The one who can endure most will win. Who can endure most. But also, in the end we’ll live in peace." "You haven’t changed," I said to him. All words seemed tiny and feeble.

Later on that October, Netanyahu made ill-advised comments about the Holocaust and Hitler and Haj Amin al-Husseini. He seemed to blame the mufti for Hitler’s attempt to kill all the Jews in the world, a wrongheaded accusation he later walked back. But it certainly was the mufti who stirred up the people of Baghdad for the Farhud pogrom after arriving there in 1939. A matter of historical record. And it was the mufti who popularized the insane fears of a Jewish threat to al-Aqsa mosque, the same claim that underlies the current campaign of murder.

He and his like have been trying to make the life of the Hayim family of Jerusalem and Baghdad and Erbil unliveable for most of the last century, and I suppose a while before that, too. They won't succeed.

I walked home back to Abu Tor through the valley. A brilliant blue and gold Jerusalem afternoon. The air clear and everything vivid as it only ever is in this city. Days of insanity come again. The only thing between now and the time of the Farhud is the structures we have built for our defense. Maintained with sweat and tears and blood and love. The one who can endure most will win.