THE RABIN CANTO

 

THE KILLING

 

Yitzhak, now old, is bound on the altar of peace.

Zealots, swirling — tzitzis — twirling,

shout cruel words.

Nazi! Traitor! Dictator!

 

Young Amir thinks he hears God's voice,

answers, "Here I am."

 

A pistol is raised,

but the angel does not speak.

Yitzhak's blood stains the song of peace.

Bullets cut deeper than a knife,

in a Tel-Aviv square thickets and rams

are difficult to find.

 

The square fills with tearful memorial lights.

Molten wax covers the ground.

Yet Yitzhak's voice is heard

through Leah his wife.

"I am dead. I can do no more.

Please do what we started

Shimon and I."

 

A RALLY IN NEW YORK

 

Manhattan.

Sunday morning.

Windy, cold, bright.

Jews and Gentiles,

crowd into Madison Square Garden

past doors heavily guarded by police.

 

They pay tribute to Rabin.

The very young and the very old,

the ones that pray and most who don't,

listen to words of praise.

"Good harvest of his life's work."

 

Many are turned away.

In groups they stand outside exchanging words.

Solidarity, community, support Israel

I hear them say.

And as they depart, "Shalom Chaver."

 


WE MUST ASK

 

At the cemetery, with flowers in hand,

I see two Yeshiva students

spitting on Rabin's grave.

Nausea rises from my gut.

                                                            Shouting, I ask

how strong is this hate

when it insists on desecrating

this good man's grave?

For you are not of Hamas, but

                                                            one of us.

Yeshiva teachers

are you not ashamed

when the killer and these hoodlums bear

                                                            your name?

Did Hitler order himself burned

to prevent Jews from spitting

                                                            on his grave?

 

THE VERDICT

 

In midst of spring

when hilly slopes are green and in bloom

iris, larkspur, poppy

and fragrance of orange and vine

is in the air,

verdict and sentence are pronounced.

 

Judges eloquently proclaim:

Killer!  How dare you say:

"I did it for the glory of God."

You must know that the human bomb that killed

on a Tel-Aviv bus did whisper the same.

Didn't your errant Rabbi or Mullah

teach you not to take the name of the Lord in vain.

We abhor your false certainty, vanity, pride.

By violating the Third Commandment

you have toppled the other nine.

 

 


A YEAR LATER

 

Hebron -

The earth is heavy with bones

of Abraham, Sarah, Yitzhak.

For millenniums Jews have buried here.

Soil shared with Salam, Nassir

names on stones

bleached faint by sun, sand, salt, rain.

Each day graves of Jews and Arabs mount,

Baruch Goldstein cruelly adds to the count.

 

From the cave, an angel's voice is heard,

"Let Yitzhak's blood

enter the hearts of men."

 

RABIN'S FOREST

 

On a rocky hill west of Jerusalem

a forest is reborn.

Tender seedlings planted

by grateful Jewish hands in burned soil.

 

When he was called a traitor and Nazi

a wall of flames raced up these hills

as if to warn the nation

that nature's fires, once started

burn with their own will.

 

Dressed in pine he was carried up

these charred and bouldered hills

and laid to rest on Mount Herzl, still green.

 

Nourished by his, and others, interred flesh,

new roots begin to grow.

Almond trees blossom

pines golden needles throw.

Ravens and hawks build nests,

and in time a flock of white doves

will fly from this forest.

 

        - Bernard Otterman