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
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.
are you not ashamed
when the killer and these hoodlums bear
Did Hitler order himself burned
to prevent Jews from spitting
on his grave?
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
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."
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