Thursday, August 21, 2003

Little Shmuel Zargari, just eleven months old, was buried in Jerusalem yesterday. None of the members of his nucleus family attended the funeral, although he had a mother and a father and five brothers and sisters. But they were all wounded on the bus, some badly, and were in hospital while he was being laid to rest. They're still there. All except one brother, who was released yesterday.

It's not easy to see the pictures of the funerals of tiny babies. In Israel, Jews are not buried in coffins. They are wrapped in shrouds and covered with prayer shawls. Their bodies are trundled along to the burial sites on trolleys, with the mourners following. The bodies of babies and children make very small bundles on the trolleys.

The front page of Yediot Aharonot today has the photo of a tiny, bandaged baby, her face covered with horrible sores, lying on a hospital bed, surrounded by white plastic tubes. She seems to be sleeping peacefully. Maybe she is heavily sedated, poor little mite. She is five-month-old Shoshana Natanzon. Her sister, Tehila, just three-years-old, was among those murdered. There is a picture of her as well, ever so cute, smiling from under a straw hat that is too big for her. There's nothing like a photo of a cute, smiling kid, is there? We are programmed to react to such a photo with compassion. That's just the way we are made. It is difficult to grasp that the sweet little child, smiling up at you from the page, died a horrible, bloody death just a day and a half ago.

The picture of the American baby, Shmuel Taubenfeld, three months old, killed along with his mother, has the same effect. What a lovely little mischievous smile. You can't help smiling back.