Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your high hills! How the mighty have fallen! (2 Samuel 1:19)
It was never that Eli David did not love his children. He did love his children.
When he was a young man, Eli David read a book that told him it is better to be feared than loved if he could not be both. He wanted to be both, he truly did.
Then he grew up.
Love is conditional. Anyone who says otherwise is a manipulative liar at best and a sentimental fool at worst.
This is the truth about his son Ari: he was an accident.
He was an absolutely unforeseen accident. Mistake, Eli even thinks once or twice sitting drunk in the darkness of his office.
Not that Eli hadn't used Ari. To waste such an opportunity would have been unthinkable.
In any case, Eli allowed Ari believe he had been conceived with intent. It suited Ari's narcissism to believe it. It suited Eli's purposes to let him.
He did what he would have done for any son he might have fathered by a wife and not a woman who did not even know his real name. Gave the boy an education a Spartan could be proud of. Taught him to recognize the aching blood of his people running through his veins. Ingrained the importance of family duty revenge survival israel in his mind. Made sure the boy would always be wrong, always unright.
(strike first, and strike hard, and nothing is too much, and nothing is too sacred and do not hesitate or they will do this to you and you'll lose).
Making sure they could never be right was the only way Eli knew how to protect his children.
This must have been where he went wrong.
It had never worked with Tali. Her mother had interfered too much, and by that time he had been rapidly working his way up the ladder and had two other children to divert his attention. Tali, his lamb, though he loved her, had been weak. Weakness is intolerable, and her fate was no less than what he had expected.
He still mourned her loss.
Ari and Ziva were too unright, though. Nothing is sacred had turned against duty honor family . Both his son and daughter lost those battles.
Ari had always been the angry kind. Rage without reason and wrath without provocation. Eli should have known earlier. But why would he have? Ari hated him for some imagined mistreatment due to his illegitimacy. But if Eli's wife had ever given him a son he would have been loved no more than Ari and raised to lead no gentler life. All Ari might have done to know this was look at his sister Ziva.
Ziva, his glory and shame, was either the best thing he ever did or the worst, and he will never know which. With her: nothing was too much, nothing was sacred, nothing.
The truth is, he never imagined she would actually carry his order through. Had someone else carry it through, certainly. But never stand there and pull the trigger herself.
Not Ziva, who worshipped her brother with an almost unsettling devotion. Not Ziva, who would have walked into the underworld and dragged Tali back from the grasp of death like a hero of old if only she could have found the entrance. Not Ziva, who would have let the whole world burn if it were a choice between the world and Ari or Tali or Eli.
In the end, this, which had made her his best, had also destroyed her. Not in a literal sense, but from the message she sent Dear Father, he knows all too well that his little darling has been broken beyond all hope of repair.
There is a children's rhyme in her new country about all the king's horses and all the king's men not being able to put a man back together again. But what could they know about broken things? Compared to Eli David, very little.
Eli David is old, and he is tired. His son Ari is dead, and his daughter Tali is dead, and his wife is dead, and he will never see his daughter Ziva again.
The problem with love is that it is conditional. The problem with fear is that without love, fear turns into hate.
His one living child does not love him, and she does not fear him. He could make her fear him, but fear without love is hate and he is an old, tired man.
He hopes that one day, maybe Ziva can forgive him. She will never be okay, but maybe she can forgive him.
It is unlikely.