I watch the children playing on Haifa’s beach…..and think of the terrified children of Gaza. I see the children spashing in the water and think of the evacuated kibbutzim and the town of Sderot, where year after year, for thirteen years, children have been born into and are now being Barmitzvah into this psychologically devastating environment. The adults relax in the sunshine…..and I think of the old men and women in Gaza.
My eyes follow the adults strolling along the promenade and I imagine those people, too frail, too disabled, too old, too ill to be able to get to a communal shelter. Instead, they stay where they are, or spend the day leaning against the local shelter’s walls, waiting for the next Red Alert.
Nevertheless, within the Family of Israel, someone always knows someone who knows someone. For Israel, this is not a conflict being played out on television screens and in the media. The men and women on the beach have sons and husbands, fathers and brothers called up to fight in and around Gaza. Their bodies may be in one place, but their minds and the minds of all the Jewish world are tuned in to what is going on a distance from here. Each one has a connection that joins them umbilically to all other decent human beings.
I have always been impressed by the distances people will travel within Israel, to go to Barmitzvahs, weddings, Brit Milah, Pidyon Ha’ben and all other times of rejoicing. Now I can see the reality of why this is so and how important it is to join family and friends, even at the end of a hard day’s work or at the crack of dawn and drive hundreds of kilometres to join in happy and life-enhancing times.
Such an event took place last Wednesday, in Tekumah, the moshav near Sderot, where my youngest nephew and his wife live. Their son, born the previous week in the hospital in Be’ersheva, was going to become Brit Mila. Being at the Northern end of the country, my sister, her husband and I set out shortly after 05:00, after hearing phantom jets leaving their base, near Haifa, on their way to Gaza. Saying the travellers’ prayer, had much more poignancy than usual.
Passing through the central areas of Israel, where many missiles have been falling, we drove into the southern municipal districts, expecting to have to leap out of the car, when the sirens rang out. Miraculously, we managed to not only get to our destination in peace, but the ceremony and the festive meal which followed, was not interrupted by sirens. Of course, we could hear, in the near distance, the booming of the artillery in Gaza, but the joy of the occasion blurred the boundaries between normality and danger. Soldiers with guns slung over their shoulders, mingled with young mothers and their children in buggies.
My sister’s friends from Kibbutz Alumim, on the Gaza border, and where the residents have been supporting off-duty soldiers, thought nothing of coming to celebrate the life of Ranen Eliyahu. Ranen means ‘be joyful’ and Eliyahu (Elijah) is said to herald the Meshiach.
Today, with all the horror and sadness, which is engulfing not only Israel, but all the Middle East, the celebration of life is a must. Otherwise, we will sink into the mire that is the terrorists’ lot, which celebrates death and martyrdom.
May God spread a dome of peace over Israel and protect all its people, giving them hope for a better future for all its citizens. Shabbat shalom Am Yisroel Chai.
“Enjoy your holiday!” they all said, a few days before I left for Israel. I couldn’t be bothered to tell the non-Jewish population that it is hardly a holiday, when you visit a country that’s under a barrage of missiles, being sent by a group, who wants Israel annihilated.
And just before I left, a secular Jew asked me what was happening in Israel. A graduate of Carmel College, once a Jewish secondary boarding-school, he had no understanding of what was concerning most Jews around the world. A lady, who heard I was going away, mentioned a recent BBC TV serial, The Honourable Woman, which is set in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. She told me it was based on facts. I told her that just because it seemed to be life-like, it could not be assumed to be as reality.
Just two people out of the whole of the British population, who are missing the point, missing the knowledge needed to combat the delegitimisation of Israel.
And why have I come? Well, I had a booked ticket already. My daughter is here. My grand-daughter is here. My sister and all her family are here, including one son, who lives with his children in the area close to Gaza. He not only has to deal with the trauma affecting his own children, as they see missiles overhead and rush into the safety of their home and the room constructed to protect them. As an educational psychologist, he also deals with those children in the South, who have lived with the possibility of death, for fourteen years.
Then there is my brother-in-law’s cousin, a young man from Australia, a Lone Soldier, one without a nuclear family to support him, in Israel. He is a member of a unit, which has been decimated in the last two weeks of fighting in Gaza. Not allowed to go with his friends into Gaza, due to a back problem, he heard about the two dead and the six injured. His friends. He feels guilt for not having fought with them. He spends his days going to funerals and to shiva houses, where the families are in
mourning. He goes to visit his injured comrades.
Another Lone Soldier, from America, was buried with twenty thousand strangers around his coffin. All of Israel is united in their grief. Most in Israel want to know how this dilemma, of enemies surrounding the tiny country, can be solved.
Usually, when I visit Israel, I go to my apartment in Ashkelon. This is out of the question for me, being in the major area of shelling from Hamas. As it was, on the first evening I arrived in Modi’in, Central Israel, the siren sounded. Fortunately, I was in the home of one of my nephews, so I joined the three children and two month old baby, with her mother, in the secure room. The family looked calm enough, but one son is frightened to be outside the home and is concerned about travelling South to Tekumah, a moshav near Sderot, for the Brit of his new-born cousin, on Wednesday.
Just now, in the middle of a supposed cease-fire, I hear the Red Alert sound on my mobile phone! telling me that another missile has been launched at Sdot Negev, my nephew’s area.
Friends in Ashkelon have kept me informed about their lives. Returning from Ben Gurion Airport, they had to duck and dive through the alarms and missiles. Lying next to their car on the tarmac, their hands protecting their heads, the missiles land in fields close-by. Hotels further north, are giving special prices to residents of the South. My friends are now in Jerusalem.
Then there is Motti and his wife, Sue. She lived for nine years on Kibbutz Alumin, which borders Gaza. Many of their friends from the kibbutz have children and close relatives, who have been called up and are fighting, in Gaza. The kibbutzniks have opened their homes to the soldiers so that they have somewhere to get respite from the fighting and eat, wash and rest, even while under attack from mortar fire and Qassam rockets.
On Friday, without warning, a missile struck close to the synagogue. Nobody was injured, but the building was damaged.
Motti and Susie are hosting a group from Kibbutz Alumim, tomorrow evening, to give them some respite from the constant barrage and noise. They have also organised for items of necessity to be collected, so that the soldiers who come to shelter at the kibbutz, can receive these essentials. Soldiers also are in need of batteries to charge their mobile phones, without electricity. Of course, they are not allowed to take phones onto the battle-field, but it their one link to families and friends, when and if they get back to Israel.
I have spent my days trying to keep up with all the information coming out of Israel and the pathetic, biased and basically anti-semitic rubbish coming from Europe and the UN. In the midst of this, I have had an on-going correspondence with Miranda Pinch, a Palestinian Solidarity Campaigner, a Jew converted to Christianity, who calls her mother a ‘so-called Holocaust Survivor’. This woman lives in a village near Winchester, in England.
When she claimed that the IDF and Israel manipulate images for propaganda use, I asked her to send me any images she had to support her claim. The response, ‘I know for a fact that this has been done on the IDF/Israel side’ was after I told her that Hamas had used photos of the Fogel family, who were murdered in Israel, claiming it was an image from Gaza. I also mentioned that Syrian images have been used in this way, too.
So Miranda sent me an image from Fox News! That was the best she could do. Then she tried to justify Hamas’ use of tunnels and claimed that there was no room in Gaza to build shelters for its people, when I said that Hamas did not care about protecting its citizens. Maybe she will understand better, when it is too late to protect Europe from the onslaught of fundamental Islam.
Miranda loves to tell me that I don’t care about Palestinians dying and losing their homes and livelihood. So an Israel advocacy friend of mine posed a challenge for her. He and I would put forward the case for the Palestinians and she and her friend Rev Pat Clegg, from Salisbury, would speak on behalf of the Israelis and then we would see who had empathy and who understood the whole problem, seeing outside the tunnel vision of the PSC supporters.
She did not accept the challenge!
Thank you for visiting our new website.