"Something there is that doesn't love a wall"
John Williams wrote me "Some guy on Brit Telly was talking about the wall around Israel as representing 'man's inability to live together'. He should come here because I've got a wall and I'm flaming well glad of it, as I like my privacy. Come to think of it I'll bet he's got a bloody wall around his home too. Why is a big wall somehow anti-social, I mean the Chinese are revered for theirs and it wasn't erected to grow peaches against, was it?"
And I was reminded yet again of Robert Frost and his wise neighbor.
why not a fish
Monday, May 19, 2003
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall"
While I am writing
Another one. A shopping mall in Afula. A woman blew herself up among people.
It looks like 4 murdered, at this point; 18 injured, 5 of them in critical condition.
So who rides the bus from a Jerusalem suburb into town at 5:45am? 44 year old Marina Tsahvirashvili does, or used to, on her way to work in the kitchen of Shaarei Tzedek hospital; so did 63 year old Yitzhak Moyal, on his way to the sorting room in Jerusalem's Central Post Office; and 42 year old Ghaleb Tawil, also a hospital worker; 34 year old supermarket worker Ronny Yisraeli; 55 year old Nelly Frob, maintenance worker in the police station in the old city; 52 year old Olga Brenner, a cleaner in a new immigrants radio station; and even 67 year old Shimon Ostinsky, once an economics lecturer in Kiev, now a guard in a car park in Jerusalem. Just ordinary, hard working people, scrambling for a living, ride the bus from a Jerusalem suburb into town at 05:45am.
Who would blow up such people? 19 year old Bassam Jamal Darwish Takruri, son of a well-to-do Hebron family, would.
I look at the pictures, on this side and on this side. Here - a good looking young warrior, from an affluent background, taking his fate in his hands, sacrificing himself for an exalted cause, to be remembered and revered forever as a hero; here - people who got up early day after day and worked hard and long to feed themselves and their loved ones, to pay the rent, to survive. Not striving to be heroes, not striving to be anything. Just people. Like you and me.
Where is the poetic justice in this? Why are the cold-blooded murders of these people seen by so many as fitting revenge of the weak? Why is this young, good looking, physically strong and economically secure kid perceived as being more desperate than a 67 year old economics lecturer making his way in the soft early morning light to his dead end job as a guard in a car park?
Sunday, May 18, 2003
It seems a gas balloon has exploded in a restaurant on Ibn Gabirol St. near Kikar Rabin. Quite close to us but we didn't hear the blast, just the ambulances. Ten people have been reported wounded. We thought it was a terrorist attack at first, but they're saying it looks like an accident.
And while Bish and I ponder if Sharon will throw out Arafat this time, especially considering his recent reiteration of his demand for full "Right of Return" for all Palestinians into pre-1967 Israel, look what has crept up on us:
Lag Ba'Omer (also known as an opportunity for every Jew to become a raving pyromaniac for one night)
It actually didn't creep up. Tel Aviv kids have been on a wood-gathering rampage for months now, our usually gentle offspring included. The Security Room, of Iraq War fame, immediately became a hiding place for choice planks of wood, once plastic sheeting had been dismantled.
Numerous young horrors have been sighted daily, rushing round in amok, pushing purloined supermarket carts full of the booty of raids on construction sites and other quality wood sources (Strangely reminiscent of the looters in Baghdad, only shorter). It is a well-known fact, after all, that the size of your bonfire reflects directly on your worth as a human being.
An important reminder to all Israelis, in view of tomorrow night's festivities:
Don't forget to close your windows if you don't want your home to stink from the smell of the bonfires!
Youngest's bonfire begins at 7 pm. We're to bring a potato covered in aluminum foil, 2 cans of sauerkraut (That's a new one. They don't really expect any kids to eat that, do they?) and wood for the fire.
(This depicts the last part bring cut by my inner censor. Sorry.)
Alisa has fallen down a new rabbit hole. A very stylish one too.
You turn on the radio at 6:15 am to hear what's new with the strike and you hear the words "...that was major general Mickey Levy, commander of Jerusalem District Police..." and you know, even before you hear another word, that there has been another terrorist attack.
7 murdered; 20 wounded. A bus near the French Hill in Jerusalem.
You continue making sandwiches for school; you prepare lunch on plates for the kids to warm up in the micro when they get home; you wake everyone up and you leave for work. Another day. Another week.
On the way out you glance at the newspaper. The headlines tell of yesterday's terrorist attacks, in Casablanca, in Hebron. Old news already.
We are told that our early childhood shapes us into the people we are to become.
But when we have become those people, the so-called formative years of early childhood, important as they may have been, seem to fade into vague memories of just a few scenes, played over and over in our minds, until we're not sure if they ever really happened; if they are no more than dreams or fantasies.
What happens if our early childhood has no resemblance in any way to the life we live today? What if everything is now completely different from what our early childhood prepared us for? The sights, the sounds, the smells, even the language we talk, the accepted behavior expected of us by society, by our loved ones? What happens to those hazy early childhood memories then?
Maybe they become so distant as to make them appear to have happened in a previous life, or not at all.
But every so often we hear a word, spoken in a long forgotten dialect; we notice a scent, so unmistakable, so familiar. And then it's gone. And we are filled with such a feeling of yearning, of longing, for another life, another world.
For some, the world in which I spent my early childhood is still home.
Saturday, May 17, 2003
I enjoyed it. A week of (almost) no writing, at least no writing for "public" consumption, showed me that although I enjoy the ongoing rambling I engage in on Not a Fish, it does actually require me to sacrifice, to a certain degree, the bliss of dwelling on nothing. Not that I dwelled on nothing this week. I was quite engaged with the planning and carrying out of Youngest's birthday party, since I was the entertainer (Guaranteed to add to one's white hairs. Luckily I now hide mine beneath a layer of chemicals, so no one's the wiser). I also spent the week contemplating a certain new aspect of Youngest's education that has come up, which will require us to make some decisions, and reading up the subject.
What I didn't do was take more than a very mild interest in the week's events. I hardly noticed the general strike; I did not worry myself with the Road Map rhetoric; or with certain utterances made by PM Sharon and a-Ra'is Arafat. However, I couldn't refrain from reacting with satisfaction and interest to the belated developments (as in: about time too) concerning the particularly militant and obnoxious Northern Division of the Israeli Islamic Movement (The top guys were arrested, as a result of their extensive economic support of Hamas and the families of murderers and their part in channeling foreign aid to the same), but not enough to find the time to blog about it, apparently.
The uncertainty of life is such that it is beneficial to take a breather from the news occasionally. They have a way of catching up sooner or later anyway, if you like it or not.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Free again, free again!
My idea of hell would be to have me being sent back down to Earth as an entertainer at children's birthdays. For eternity. Aaaaaaaah! (I hope God's not reading this).
Monday, May 12, 2003
I'm very busy preparing for Youngest's birthday party on Friday afternoon. I hope blogging will pick up afterwards.
Friday, May 09, 2003
So I realize I am more or less the last person to link to the Hasidic Rebel. I noticed him but hadn't had time to take a look. The ultra-religious world fascinates Israelis. Books about it, fiction and otherwise, are extremely popular, a peek into our past, maybe. You all know Naomi Ragen, I suppose, even if you haven't read any of her books, but there are quite a few others. I was particularly moved by Dov Elboim's disturbing novel about life in a Haredi yeshiva as experienced by a young teenage boy. I don't think it has been translated
What could be more intriguing than a blog written from inside that world, and by a dissenter no less? There is just something so alluring about looking into a different world, and also seeing our world as others see it.
As a child I was always drawn to other little girls I came across that were different - like the Palestinian schoolgirls with long pants under their long striped school dresses and, of course, the ultra-religious girls with their red woolen tights. Their tights always seemed to be red, no matter what color the rest of their clothes were. Our skirts were all way above the knee in those days. The Arab and ultra-religious girls in their long clothes seemed so exotic.
Isn't it a fascination with the different that draws us to Salam for instance, who rewards us with his unique point of view of life in Iraq? I suppose that's why some people find us Israeli bloggers interesting, too, although we're hardly as intriguing. I don't think our lives are particularly unusual, security considerations aside. This guy has just started writing about life as a technician in the Israeli Air Force. Would that be an airplane technician, I wonder. It always blows my mind to think about the responsibility those guys have. Just think of the tens of thousands of bolts on a fighter plane, for one thing. Imagine mucking up. Brrrrr. Same feeling about people who fold parachutes.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
New guy - hillbill
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Happy Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day)
Go read the important stuff at Gil's.
Update: Like every year, we went to see the fireworks in Kikar Rabin this evening. Last year suicide attacks were daily events when Yom Haatzmaut came around so besides us there were about three other celebrants in the Kikar (not counting the hundreds of police) and the atmosphere was very tense. This year things were back to normal. We have a favorite bench in a side road with a good view, because we don't like to be too near for the fireworks and the rest of the show doesn't interest us. You get a crick in you neck from looking up at the fireworks display if you're right underneath and the bits fly into your eyes. The only difference was that this year we had to do without Eldest's company. This year Eldest demanded to go on her own to hang out in the Kikar with her friends. I nearly had a heart attack, but what could I do?
About Yom Hazikaron
Allison Kaplan Sommer, Gil Shterzer and Jonathan Edelstein.
This Hebrew site has the names, personal stories and burial places of all 21,540 who fell in Israel's wars. You can type in the names of people you know who have been killed and read their stories.
I saw something in the cemetery this year that I hadn't noticed before. I walked along the wall that divides the military cemetery from the civilian cemetery. Right along the wall, on the civilian side, are rows of graves belonging to deceased parents of fallen soldiers. Most of them have inscriptions telling when and where their soldier was killed (besides the usual information about the deceased). Some have inscriptions with a few words about the specific wish of the parents to be lain to rest near the grave of their child. One or two graves have inscriptions both in memory of parents and siblings of the deceased who were killed in the Holocaust and in memory of a child killed in war in Israel.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Yom Hazikaron (Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars)
Many come early in the morning. Some come with little folding chairs, others have with them buckets and brushes to clean up a bit before the crowds start coming. A soldier girl waits at the gate and greets each person with a flower and bottles of water. So no one should faint in the heat. It's always so hot.
No one asks for directions. Everyone knows the way. Many have been coming here year after year on this day for over half a century. For some it is their first time. Each and every one of them would rather not be here. What would they not give to have been spared this?
Gradually the stream of people increases. By nine o'clock there is a steady flow. By ten o'clock the tension is rising as people begin to be anxious that they will be late, more and more of them passing through the gates all the time. They are from all walks of life, old and young, rich and poor, healthy and frail, Jews - Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, but also Druze, Bedouin. United in grief, they make their way slowly along the familiar paths, under the unrelenting sun that does not know to distinguish them from the rest of us. By a quarter to eleven there are thousands flooding through the gates, a sea of people now rushing to get there in time.
And at one minute to eleven everyone is in place, each standing by the grave of a loved one. A hush falls. Any moment now it will start, the three-minute siren that opens the ceremony, the memorial service. For these are the families and close friends of the 21,540 fallen Israeli soldiers and members of the Israeli security forces. These are the people who pay the price.
This is the real Israel you seek. Come here on this day, for this is where it is to be found. Come and see them. They are all here, tens of thousands of them, and more. The parents who buried their children, never to dance at their weddings; the children who grew up not knowing their fathers, with no one to call "Abba" (Daddy); the wives who grew old alone with their memories of young handsome husbands, of love that was not destined to mature; the men who held their friends in their last moments, forever to ask themselves why they were allowed to continue their lives.
This is their day. On this day we share their pain with them. On this day we honor them and their terrible sacrifice.
Sunday, May 04, 2003
Before I turn in...
Our Sis sent me this
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European nation rather than German which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5-year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of the "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with the "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords containing "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
If zis mad yu smil, pleas pas it on to oza pepl.
It was reprinted in the classic collection "A Stress Analysis of a Strapless
Evening Gown", where I first read it while in high school, about 1970. (In
that version, the target years had been updated, and that's the version
linked to above.)"
Amram Mitzna (who?) just resigned from his position as chairman of the Israeli Labor Party. Maybe this time the party will choose for their chairman someone people will want to vote for and not some dreary Meretz look-alike. I am not heart broken (understatement). His resignation speech was uninspiring: Whine whine whine, as usual. Yawn.
OK so I went a bit overboard with the flag thing. I bought a little flag for the car and a big flag for the apartment (They're pretty cheap and it's easier than digging out last year's rather faded flag from the bottom of the laundry basket. And car flags don't last very long). After paying I noticed there were bigger flags for sale in the store, so I quickly switched the one I'd bought for a bigger one and paid the difference. When I got home I discovered that the bigger flag was really BIG. Really really big. I put it up anyway. I had to squish it a bit to make it shorter so the bottom part wouldn't block the window of the woman who lives underneath us. We get on her nerves as it is, because we dare to water our plants and because we're there. Anyway, there it is. The really really bigger flag. Hopefully Bish won't shoot me. Maybe he won't notice.
Update: He didn't notice.
And more about flags:
"Funny, I had a similar incident when I bought my flag at Steimatsky's here in London. I too went overboard with the size of the flag, but mine will drape my London flat's balcony. By the way - size does matter these days. So, if anyone is reading this in London and looks up from Regents Park and sees the Blue and White Israeli flag - they should remember that I also read and highly endorse imshin's blog.
Let me wish you a chag sameach and to my beloved Israel, the only country in the world where we truly belong. I weep for and remember all our men, women and our children who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we all may continue our legacy. May Israel thrive and continue to be the hope for us all.
Long may it prosper!
Jenny in St Johns Wood"
Oh, yes, the Road Map
Gil has kindly supplied us with links to the full document. In two languages. Groan. There's no escaping it now. I'm going to have to read the damn thing. As proof of my willingness to tackle the subject seriously, I've even printed it out. In two languages. I've finished the latest mindless escapism I've been reading, so I really have no excuse.
I settled down yesterday after lunch to read it. The print was sooo small. I woke up an hour later, greatly refreshed but no more knowledgeable. Maybe I shouldn't have attempted to read it in bed after a big Shabbat lunch.
I really do mean to read it. I just can't be bothered. This morning I asked Bish what he thinks about it, the Road Map that is, not my inability to muster up interest in it. He always reads everything and then has intelligent analysis to offer (I've long wanted him to write on Not a Fish as the token clever guy, but he refuses). Guess what? He hasn't read it either!
Dad also says he's stopped reading analysis about the conflict.
I've read in a few places that I'm a real Israeli (teehee, fooled you all). Could there be anything more embarrassing? Well, yes actually, there could, but forgive me if I don't elaborate. I'm not sure what a real Israeli is. What would a fake Israeli be? I'd like to point out that I don't see how I could be seen as representing anyone but myself. However I do think my disinterest in the Road Map is pretty representative. Jaded, I think would be the word Diane would use. Right now I'd much rather watch a silly romantic comedy with Eldest than the news. The sillier the better. The Princess Diaries was perfect. So was that one about the not-so-dumb blond that becomes a hotshot lawyer.
Friday, May 02, 2003
Eldest has gone off to a Bat Mitzva party. She asked me to drop her and a friend off at Dizengoff Center shopping mall today after school so they could get presents. You can't just get any old present, it's a Bat Mitzva, she explained, when she saw the look on my face and proceeded to break a tooth (I don't know if the tooth thing is connected). The stuff in the local shop just won't do.
Now I'm not crazy about Eldest going to Dizengoff Center on her own. First of all, it's had a few fires in recent years and I don't believe they've really done enough about making it fire safe. Another thing is that it's enormous, easy to get lost in and has a lot of out of the way nooks and crannies, some of which are congregation places for freaky sorts of youngsters - not the kind I want congregating round my sweet eleven and a half year-old. To top it all, there are a lot of warnings about impending terrorist attacks and a dangerous, desperate British ISM peace-activist is said to be on the loose in town, having failed to blow himself up among Israelis enjoying music on Tuesday night.
The compromise was that Bish took them to the Ayalon mall in Ramat Gan and stuck around till they'd finished shmying round the stores that sell pink fluffy stuff to female adolescents.
I'm probably just being hysterical. That's what Eldest tried to tell me anyway. Actually, I like Dizengoff Center, I'm just nervous about Eldest going there without me. Eldest tried to reason with me that fires and terrorist attacks can happen anywhere and anytime and that they're not a good enough reason not to leave the house (I didn't tell her about the congregating freaky youths).
The meaning of Peace
Apparently the International Solidarity Movement of pro-Palestinian (so-called) peace activists (or more accurately: Human Shields for Terrorists) is a convenient vehicle for terrorists to infiltrate Israel. According to the UK Telegraph, the terrorists who perpetrated the latest murderous attack came to Israel as ISM activists.
Seen on LGF. Tomcat, on LGF comments, put it best, quoting Dylan - "Sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace".
Thank you Diane for this early morning rush of adrenaline.
The ISM homepage says "While the world focuses intently on the unfolding events in Iraq, international ISM activists are under attack. Wake Up Israelis!" I suggest an update: "While the world focuses intently on the unfolding events in Iraq, international ISM activists are slaughtering Israelis. Wake Up ISM activists!"
According to Haaretz, Israel won't be letting these people enter the country any more. Seeing as they already lie about their intentions in order to gain entry, I do hope the security forces will actually take active steps to throw them out, and not just bar their entry.
Meryl also writes about this, while Laurence generously contributes to the Human Shield effort.
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
My first thought was that they'd got it wrong, when I opened my door to reach down for the newspaper this morning. The headline was that there had been a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, while I had been sleeping, in a pub right next to the US embassy. At least 3 dead, 35-50 wounded. Looks like someone was sending a message to Abu Mazen.
Considering the location, the message was definitely for the US, too.
This is the place that got blown up. The URL was on my sitemeter. One of those weird mistakes that happen on sitemeter.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
What did it take to survive? What did it take to cling on to a life in hell?
Would I have had it in me? Not strong enough for hard labor; not streetwise enough for life on the run; not in possession of particular inner strength, determination or will to live. An easy kill. Not survivor material.
Bish reminds me that no one survives. The most you get is an extension.
I am learning to drive. My driving teacher has a beige Subaru. I am seventeen. We are at the traffic lights by the central bus station in Haifa, waiting to turn left to Bat-Galim. 'Maybe I should have my nose fixed so I don't look so Jewish', I think just as the light changes. A foolish thought. Why has it stick in my mind for twenty years?
Every day is Yom HaShoah. How can we tell when we are being paranoid and when they really are out to get us?
And each year - there are the films on television and the articles in the newspapers, with new stories that have not been told before. There are so many stories. Most will never be told.
Europeans who say we are doing exactly the same thing to the Palestinians have no shame. They have no shame.
Adolf Eichmann stands up in his glass cage. He says that there is no reason for him to be tried. (He did such a good job, he thinks, a brilliant job. He should be given a medal of honor; he should be recognized the world over for the genius he is. The judges seem such intelligent, educated, civilized people. Can they not see how absurd this trial is?)
Monday, April 28, 2003
A grandfather of a classmate of Eldest came in to school today to share with the kids his experiences of staying alive in a Nazi concentration camp as a twelve year old, using his charm and whatever other abilities he could scrape together. Eldest was very moved. Eldest's class has had various grandparents coming in before Yom Hashoah to share their stories, for the past three years now. A very powerful way to help them grasp the meaning of the Holocaust, I think.
"It is my goal to be accused of being immoral by hypocrites" Janusz Korczak
This morning before she left for school, Youngest told me they would be seeing a movie about Janusz Korczak today. They tend to put most of the emphasis on the way he went to his death, but I think every parent can benefit from what he had to say about children. Here is a version of his Declaration of Children's Rights, based on his writings. I think I'll print it out so I can read it occasionally, as a little reminder.
The UN declaration is very significant, but it's a bit grandiose for us ordinary folk. Korczak's declaration is more relevant for people living *ordinary* lives with children.
Allison has published a very nice article about English language Israeli blogs on Israel21c. I'm in it. Yippee! Oh, and there's a (rather small) photo of Allison so we finally get to see what she looks like, more or less. Now I know our paths didn't cross in Sde Boker on Friday, after all. Well, they did, but not at the same time.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Tomorrow evening is the beginning of Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Day, which continues on Tuesday and includes a two minute siren, during which Israelis stand in silent memory of those slaughtered. You might like to check out the website of Yad Vashem (The Israeli Holocaust Martyrs'and Heroes' Remembrance Authority).
There are a lot of interesting excerpts of survivors' testimonies, in PDF format, describing moments in time and angles we are not accustomed to. Here are two random examples:
From The Testimony of Lucille Eichengruen on Relations with Neighbors
Lucille Eichengruen was born in Hamburg in 1925. Her parents had emigrated
from Poland to Hamburg after the First World War.
Interviewer: Did you have German friends?
Answer: Non-Jewish German friends? No.
Interviewer: Only Jewish?
Answer: Yes. We had some neighbors and the neighbors stopped talking and
playing with us after 1933. But real friends, no. I did not have any.
Interviewer: and your parents?
Interviewer: Only Jews?
Answer: Only Jews and strangely all the friends of my father's with very few
exceptions were Polish Jews. My father was friendly with Martin Buber, with
Dr. Paul Holtzer, but those were exceptions.
Interviewer: What happened after 1933?
Answer: In 1933 the climate changed. There were restrictions, there were ugly
incidents - we walked to school, children would beat us up. Children would
yell at us and make nasty remarks. We were told to be quiet on the streetcar.
We were told not to draw attention to ourselves, and slowly and gradually
people began to leave. Students, teachers - it was a very unsettled situation.
It was constant turmoil and for a child it was not conducive to learning. It was
difficult to study under those circumstances.
Interviewer: And what happened?
Answer: My grades were not the best and my parents hired tutors for
mathematics, for English, for grammar, and they improved somewhat, but I
was not a carefree, happy child. I cried a great deal, I had a lot of nightmares
and it was not a good childhood. My parents tried - I had no reason to believe
that there was anything short in the house, but the atmosphere from the
outside was so strong that it just did not leave, it just was always there.
Interviewer: Your neighbors - how did they react?
Answer: They stopped talking to us and the children would run after us and
call us ugly name names, never talk to us. Sometimes they'd throw some
stones and the boys, when they were in the mood they would beat us up.
Source : Yad Vashem Archive O3/9556
From the Testimony of Miriam Steiner: "We Began to Take In the Enormous Loss"
From the testimony of Miriam Steiner, born in 1929 in Hungary. Deported to
the Auschwitz and Ravensbruck camps. Liberated by the Red Army in the
middle of a death march to Germany. Immigrated to Palestine in 1946.
"In fact, we were supposed to begin normalization, the great crisis had not yet
hit us. It began when my cousin came home a few days later. I barely
recognized him, because that kid, that big slob, had two big ears, a big nose
and two cavities for eyes. He began to recover from his "Musselman"
condition. For the first time I cried, I fell on him and I cried at how he looked,
because then I suddenly woke up. He was the start of my crisis, of the crisis of
ours as a whole... He embraced me and said only this: "You should know one
thing, don't wait for your father and your brother". He repeated that many
times... My mother and I received a small flat, a one-room flat in
grandmother's house, and mentally speaking things began to get worse and
worse, because people started to come back with all kinds of stories, and we
knew that only we two were left. The second thing was the possibility of
making a living. Besides the soup and food and the meager clothing we
received from the Joint, you could deal in the black market, if you knew how.
My mother and I didn't know how to do such things. We knew for certain that
others had found the gold which my father had hidden in the garden, we even
knew who, but for the time being the grief was so great that this did not affect
us, because that was not our real loss.
"Now we began to realize the enormity of the loss, we began to understand
that Grandfather and Grandmother and hardly any of our relatives had
returned, only that one cousin, and his father also returned later on. People
said we shouldn't wait for them, but the truth is that we waited all the time for
my father. And I only want to say that I often look around, as though I am still searching... not for Father, it is my brother for whom I am still looking all the
time. I know it is completely unrealistic, because formally I am not searching,
I, I cast about with my eyes..."
From: Kleiman, Yehudit and Shpringer-Aharoni, Nina (eds.), The Pain of
Liberation, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1995, p. 47.
Signs of the times
* The girls went back to school today after the long Passover break. The school had some new students - "refugees" from Hong Kong, probably offspring of Israelis working there, who decided it was probably a good time to go home for a while.
* Israeli TV channel 2 is to broadcast a travel program about France this evening. The promo has an apologetic air to it - "You don't have to like the French to love France..."
"The little guy with the moustache" (Bish could never remember his name).
The reactions around the world to Marwan Barghouti's court case stand out, in my eyes, as proof of the duplicity of those who claim to be in pursuit of justice, but in actual fact are only in pursuit of justice where it serves the side they favor.
How often did we hear that if Israel wished to combat terrorism it should do so by taking legal steps against the perpetrators?
Here we are doing just that with Marwan Barghouti. He's standing trial. He didn't fall victim to a targeted killing. He was arrested and indicted. He's getting his day in court. Happy now? This is what you said you wanted.
No! This is wrong! Israel has no legal right to try Barghouti!
So that's it, isn't it? The cat is out of the bag. It's not about the means we use to combat terrorism after all, is it? It's about the fact that we should have the chutzpa to take steps to protect ourselves against terrorism at all.
Good Jews don't do things like that, as history will tell us.
So what now? Barghouti has been placed in solitary confinement. That's no way to treat a heroic freedom fighter, an important Palestinian leader, who shouldn't be standing trial in the first place. More cruelty, more injustice. Today's Yediot Aharonot (print version) has the reason. It seems Israeli security forces received information indicating that poor, wronged Barghouti, victim of an unjust and illegal trial, had been passing messages and instructions for fresh terrorist attacks to his operatives outside prison. The heroic struggle to kill innocent Israeli civilians must continue, unfettered by the illegitimate means used by those lawless rogues, the Israelis.
So what we have here is one set of standards where Israelis are concerned and quite another for Palestinians. Must be some sort of novel interpretation of affirmative action. One party is deemed free to murder and maim without distinction, once negotiation and dialogue fail to procure the desired results. A violent mode of action is perceived as being a moral and logical mean to reach the goal. The other party, however, is required to turn the other cheek at all costs, and in no way whatsoever attempt to react to any aggression however murderous. Any action, however nonviolent, aside complete capitulation to the other party's demands, is perceived as being amoral and unjustified.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
Hang the D.J.
On Friday, Israeli paper Maariv's online edition had a little item about Jihad Jaara, one of the two Palestinian terrorists the Republic of Ireland kindly took in last year. Jaara and his friend Rami Kamel were two of the thirteen armed and dangerous wanted terrorists who forcibly took over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem during operation Defensive Shield last year. You'll remember that, in order to end the siege, they struck a deal which allowed them to seek refuge overseas (disregarding the frustration and horror of the families of their victims who wanted them brought to justice). Jaara and Kamel got to go to Dublin, Ireland, where they were awarded with a nice apartment for their efforts. Like in the corniest of romantic novels, love blossomed between Rami Kamel and his English teacher and they soon tied the knot. Such a romantic story, but not for our pal, Jihad Jaara. Being a devout Muslim, living in the apartment together with his pal's wife was a big no-no so out he went, onto the streets. His Irish hosts promised to find him somewhere to live but seem to have had more worthy causes to spend their money on. So he's been wandering the streets of Dublin for the last five months.
I know what you're thinking, and you're probably right - Jaara, a Palestinian policeman and active member of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which answers to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah, wanted for perpetrating terrorist attacks against Israelis, is only dangerous where Israelis are concerned; he's a little meek pussycat unless confronted by dangerous Israeli women and children after all. But still, if I were a mother in Dublin, I'd be feeling a bit uneasy sending my kids to school with such a feline roaming the streets of my city, wet, cold, and desperate.
What can I say? Better them than me.
This story apparently appeared first in the Irish Independent on Thursday. I couldn't find a direct link in that publication, but Haaretz seems to have noticed it too.
I'm not sure what the D.J. has to do with it, either.
Yesterday we drove through a fierce sandstorm to get to our little hideaway in Mitzpe Ramon.
At times we thought we would be swept clean of the road along with the sea of sand that raced across the asphalt. We stopped for refuge from the storm at a little cafe by Sdeh Boker, the kibbutz that used to be Ben Gurion's desert home. We weren't the only ones. It was one of those little places that usually get about three customers an hour. The kibbutzniks operating the place were rather overwhelmed, if not from the masses then from the mountains of sand that blew in with every person that fought his or her way in. Bish, the girls and I finished off the last of the Burekas. There was one group of depressed looking men. They'd come down to the Negev for a bicycle-riding holiday, but in this wind they couldn't keep a bicycle up for two meters to save their lives, not to mention the difficulty actually breathing when there was more sand than breathable air swirling furiously round. They sat in a circle with their coffees and discussed what they should do. We left before they reached a decision. Not that I was eavesdropping or anything.
Miraculously, we reached Mitzpe Ramon in one piece. This was no easy feat considering the wind, the sand, the non-existent visibility and the cars coming the other way that somehow kept appearing on our side of the road, racing straight at us (some without their headlights, despite the low visibility).
And suddenly it was over, with no sign it had ever happened, besides the plastic bags strewn everywhere. Today was a beautiful, sunny and windy day in Mitzpe Ramon, which we spent strolling along the cliff of the crater. We found a nice statue, in the Statue Garden and plonked ourselves down. I think I even dropped off in the cool sun. Don't let the name Statue Garden mislead you. This is a desert and these are desert statues. No lawn. No dinky little trees. The Statue Garden spreads along the rocky ground at the cliff edge of the crater. Eldest pointed out that it was peaceful in a wild way.
We thought this would be our last visit to our funny little place in Mitzpe Ramon. The lease is up and we weren't planning to renew it, but we are loath to part with our hideaway, simple and basic as it may be. For us it's pure heaven.
Friday, April 25, 2003
I used to despise the flag thing.
My mother-in-law loves Independence Day. She used to tell me how truly happy thay had been back when they established the state in 1948. She's second generation native Tel Avivi, which is quite unusual for a seventy year-old. Unlike me, she really lived through the birth of this state and knows what life was like before. She used to tell me, but I just couldn't grasp it. The flag thing was a bit of an embarrassment.
Now that I no longer take the existence of my home for granted, I do understand what she was talking about and I appreciate it far more. The flag is not some nationalistic nuttiness. It's my way of telling the Palestinians that I'm here to stay and they'll have to accept that and learn to live with me in ways other than blowing me up. I realize that goes both ways and I'm prepared to pay the price of sharing. More than prepared. But I won't committ suicide for someone else's gratification.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Oh, no! Say it isn't so!
I'm French! Why do think I have this outrageous
accent, you silly king-a?!
What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
I really should be getting back to my book. Via The World Wide Rant, who is The Rabbit. But I wanted to be The Rabbit! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!
Oh, the humiliation.
Dawson is packing up his blog. I'm sorry about that. He really cheered me up when I really needed it, back when I thought everyone hated us.
Last week I went shopping for nice white T-shirts for the girls. It's that white T-shirt time of the year. I will spend the next two weeks continually washing these T-shirts so they'll be clean and ready for the next white T-shirt event. It begins next week with the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) ceremonies. It continues the week after that with Yom HaZikaron (memorial day for fallen soldiers) - two ceremonies - evening and morning, then the next day Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day). Two weeks later there's Lag Ba'omer (we've already started collecting the wood), but they won't really need white T-shirts for the bonfires will they? Then a fortnight after that is Shavuot, which celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, but also the harvest (you know, dancing around haystacks with flowers in hair blah blah), definitely white T-shirt stuff.
I'm quite proud of myself that I thought to plan ahead about the white T-shirts this year. Usually we find ourselves on the morning of Yom HaShoah, scrambling around the closets for white T-shirts that still fit and don't have too many very noticeable stains on them. Well Eldest has reached an age that that just isn't good enough (even a white T-shirt becomes a fashion statement?), and neither are the rather shapeless T-shirts I used to purchase for ten shekels at the corner shop. Children's clothes shops know to stock up on white T-shirts round this time of the year. It only took me about nine years of motherhood to discover this fact. It's apparently all part of springtime.
It's also flag time. Flags are already being peddled by vendors who endanger their lives illegally offering their wares to car drivers on busy junctions. As a result of their efforts, flags are starting to appear on balconies and on cars, in time for Yom HaAtzmaut. Last year there were more flags than I'd ever seen before. Things were bad, people were blowing up all over the place and our soldiers were fighting door to door to combat terrorism. I doubt if we'll be seeing as many flags this year. People have got used to the army, the police and the Shabak thwarting the attacks (well it certainly isn't the Palestinians who are doing anything about them). Well, most of the attacks anyway. The feeling of crisis is not as severe anymore. As for me, the cynicism that left me when this War of Terror began has not yet returned. I'll definitely be flying the flag again this year (actually I didn't take it down from last Yom HaAtzmaut until about three months ago, and only then because it was so dirty. It's still waiting to be washed. You know me and laundry - not the best of friends).
Go check what belief you are. Don't ask me what I am. They might throw me out saying I can't live here any more. Don't be upset if the result has nothing to do with anything. Mine wasn't either. I really don't understand how they managed to reach the conclusion they did about me. My guess is it's something like those computerized translation thingies. A bit wacky. This is courtesy of Joe from Northern Ireland. I'm dead chuffed someone from Northern Ireland reads this.
Another dead hero. Poor guy. This scares the hell out of me. The thought that some day I may find myself in a similar situation. Or someone I know. It could happen to anyone. Being in the situation of identifying a suicide bomber and making the split second decision to get him to kill me to prevent him killing others. Would I be up to it? How could I do such a thing to my girls? How could I live with myself if I didn't? This is what happened in Netanya as well, in the last attack. That time it was a soldier who happened to be there.
Escape to bed with a bad mystery onvle, I mean novel (How did that happen? More than the usual dysfunctional typing). This one is driving me mad. I've known who did it for the last twenty pages. And why. These fictional detectives are such twerps.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
So what else is new?
Diane pointed me to this rather pessimistic article in the Washington Post.
As if to prove my point, while my mother-in-law was serving us a delicious Hag lunch, Arafat and Abu Mazen managed to reach an agreement about the new Palestinian government, it seems, with a little help from their friends (knowing Mubarak and his great love for Arafat, the heavy pressure reportedly placed on Arafat by Mubarak's emissary, the head of Egyptian Intelligence, Omar Suleiman, would have had Suleiman sitting on Arafat, pummelling him and shouting, "Ya kalb, ibn kalb*, let Abu Mazen have his way!" Excuse me while I fantasize a little).
* Dog, son of dog. Rumor has it that Mubarak has used this manner of addressing the honorable Palestinian Ra'is** once or twice in the past.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Did I die and go to heaven?
This is has made my day. Make that - my week.
You see, the thing is, when we all saw him go over to see Saddam, all kissey kissey and starry-eyed, it wasn't really Saddam he was in love with. IT WAS THE MONEY. And now we all know.
Ah, the joy, the satisfaction, the utter bliss of seeing a spade being called a spade for all to see.
I really really really hope this story turns out to be bona fide.