For the last two weeks I’ve been in Israel to celebrate my mom’s birthday. The weather is warm; sitting in the garden at The Norman Hotel is magical. Israeli breakfast which includes fresh tomatoes, salad, fresh eggs, cheeses and great bread is a must. The cafés are full of people, all day long and breakfast is served anytime of the day.
We heard about a rally for democracy that will take place in Rabin square. Upon arriving at the square I was struck by the number of young high school kids, most of them in scout uniform. The signs read “enough to racism, yes to peace” another smaller one said ” Bib will bring us to the next war”. There were no political speeches only a call for peace, accepting the other, being united. Naftali’s mother ( one of the boys who were kidnapped and killed during the summer) spoke in a passionate way about being tolerant and hoping for peace. Later I found out that the rally was primarily meant for the youth. To empower the next generation and give them hope.
I met with a young comedy writer who is planning a conference called “Comedy for a Change“, what a great idea. Israelis like to make fun of themselves and of everyday events. I guess comic relief is part of life. Friday night there is a new comedy show called ” The Jews are Coming” which mocks biblical and Jewish historical events. Maybe we could bring it to the American TV …. Israel is more than “Homeland” war shows..
Saturday morning we joined a group called ” Machsom Watch” which mean “gate keepers”. It was started by women whose mission is to make sure that human rights issues are kept at the checkpoints. We wanted to see what happens on the other side. How does the West Bank look from a different point of view. Olive trees fill the scenery. Arabs are waiting at a crossing . They are resigned to the situation, there is not much they can do. In another town there is a demonstration every Friday morning demanding to open a road that is too close to the settlement nearby and is closed to the villagers for “security reasons”. That means that the farmer has to go around to get to his grove. We stop for falafel and sweet cheese desert. On the way to Tel Aviv we stop at ELhanan; a Jewish settlement and see another crossing where the fence surrounds an Arab house; ” Hani’s” home. Mr. Hani was given a key to the gate so he can enter his home. The settlement houses are a stone throw away. When you look at the map there is area C where Israelis can travel and the settlements are near each other with some arab villages in between, then there is area A which occupy the middle of the West Bank where it is ruled by Palestinians. We could draw a border line which will include all these settlements but it includes the green line. Unfortunately no one agrees on the placement and the conflict, the arguments, the disappointment, the fighting and the demonstrations continue.
On the way home we hear of clashes near the Calandia crossing in east Jerusalem, Some Palestinians tried to climb over the fence. In the north Israeli Arabs and Druze were fighting over wearing a cafia.
A few days later we are shocked by the killing of five rabbis in a synagogue in Har Nof. I cannot erase the images of the bloody talit and prayer book from my mind.
I visit the Israel Museum and climb on the Big Bamboo , the biggest installation by the artists Mike and Doug Starn. From the top you get a 360 degree view of Jerusalem. I sit on top and meditate. My country is full of beauty, the population is diverse, there are so many faces, there are so many smart people, lots of inventions. You need to use all five senses to really appreciate it all.
The Knesset is trying to pass a new law, Nationality Law,the right wing emphasize that Israel is ” a national home for the Jewish people in which he fulfills his desire for self-determination in accordance with historical and cultural heritage: a right that is unique to the Jewish people but Prime Minister Netanyahu suggests a compromise “Israel as a Jewish and democratic state “ . The debate can topple the goverment but it could alienate the Jews who live outside of Israel. It all sound like political games to me.
Kadishman, an artist I like wear a kippa that says “Mashich is not coming, he is not even calling” the words are from a song by Shalom Chanoch about a buisnessman who is not fullfiling his obligations ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucWs-5xprD8), but did we loose hope for a brighter future.
Shabbath is coming, My mom lights the shabbath candles and says a special prayer for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I am on my way home, I have been away for two an half weeks but lots happened, I pray for peace, I pray for finding a way to bridge the gaps.
Although sometimes it seems that there is no end to the conflict …. when you hope for a break you get hit by a terror attack .
Today, it’s the deadline for the talks with Iran. There are so many unsettling situations, so many unknowns. I feel that there is turmoil, the earth is bubbling.
I don’t have answers but I know we all need to be together and help spread the creativity, the tastes, the smells, the beauty that is my country-Israel.