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May 04, 2004

What the World Needs Now

You know what the world needs more of? The world needs more people who:

1) are Russian
2) are Jewish
3) celebrate the military accomplishments of the Cossacks

Why oh why aren't there more folks like this? It's a puzzlement. But maybe there's hope:

If you wonder what kind of people voted against Sharon's disengagement plan yesterday, you should meet Yacov, a 57-year-old Russian who came to Israel in 1990, and is today a successful engineer. He is a delightful, burly, impressive man who has created a good life in his new country. One afternoon last month, in his apartment near Jerusalem, we were discussing means of fighting terrorism. He was reared on tales of the legendary Bolshevik cavalry leader Budenny.

"Budenny and his Cossacks restored order in our area very quickly," said Yacov approvingly. "They simply killed all the terrorists. If terrorists killed a few soldiers, next day the nearest village was levelled to the ground. Afterwards, there was peace. Now here, today, our army only needs to do that once... "

This reminds me of a funny story. No, wait, not "funny" -- what's the word that means "so horrible you want to pull your own head off so you no longer have to think about it"?

Anyway, a friend of mine told me this story some time ago, right after his grandfather died. His grandfather had come to the US from Russia after the 1905 wave of pogroms, when he was four years old.

Since then, my friend's family had spoken of his grandfather and the mystery of the night he and his parents and siblings fled their village. They'd been running through the woods, and in the darkness his grandfather had gotten separated from everyone else. However, the next morning at sunrise he reappeared. He had been missing for about eight hours.

Of course, his parents wanted to know where he'd been and what had happened to him during those eight hours. But he wouldn't tell them. In fact, he refused to speak about it for eighty-five years.

Just before he died, he told his children and grandchildren about that night. What he said to them was this:

He had wandered through the woods in the darkness. Eventually he came to a small cottage. Inside were dozens of people also fleeing from the Cossacks. There were so many of them that the only place there was room for him to lie down was in the closet.

Later that night the Cossacks found the cottage. My friend's four year-old grandfather lay in the closet and listened as they murdered every single person there. After they left, my friend's grandfather opened the closet door, walked over the dozens of bodies on the floor, and wandered back into the woods. A few hours later he found his family.


And you know what? This guy Yacov is right, because after that my friend's grandfather finally stopped being a terrorist.

Maybe you don't think that's too amusing. But remember it's May 4th, the International Day for Making Grim, Unfunny Jokes.

Posted at May 4, 2004 11:09 AM | TrackBack