# 199-2 – Israel Visits by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 199-2 – Israel Visits

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 409
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December 3, 2011

Frantic emails from you all have shown embarrassing concern for my wellbeing.

Relax…I am well. I was just…not in Israel.

Of course, I could write about Israel from overseas, but with the overwhelming mixture of work and pleasure – Aviva was with me –  there was just no time for letters.

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But today, I was reminded in several ways of the country in which I live.

Shabbath started early for us. Aviva left at 07.00 for Haifa. She and a friend were making sure they arrived early at a flea market where bargains are known to be had.

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I jumped on my bike at 09.30 to have my first game of tennis for 4 weeks. Wonderful. And from there, rode to the sea. The popular, newly-restored port area was far too busy. Too many families, bikes, prams and pets. So I rode north along the sea shore to ‘our’ beach, Tel Baruch. Parked the bike, found a table, ordered a coffee and read the paper.

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Also stared at the clientele in this area, most of them local. A few snobs, over-dressed for the beach; a lost child, announced over the loudspeaker, soon found by a frantic mother and an even more-frantic grandfather. They almost choked the poor kid with their hugs of relief.

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The weekend Jerusalem Post exposed some great subjects. E.g., dates:

November 29 – In 1947, this was the day that Resolution 181 was passed. Declaring a split of the area of Palestine into 2 states.

64 years later, most of the Arab World still denies the first of so many resolutions on this area, and the Israelis have established fait accompli of occupation and resilience in retaliation.

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January 26, 2012 – That marks the end of the 90-day period, when the Israelis and Palestinians are supposed to meet again and set plans on the table, following the PLO’s appearance at the UN, paving the unilateral way for establishment of a Palestinian state.

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Has anyone got the guts to move forward and set in place resolute plans for place. thereby placing their own lives in danger?

Of course it won’t be easy. And I can understand why many have given up. Two stories from opposite sides of the spectrum:

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Had ‘business dinner’ in Paris a week ago. At the last minute, we were joined by my company’s Syrian and Saudi customers. The latter is also originally Syrian – so Syria was the main subject…

  • Decent guys

  • Both Moslem, of course. Did not have the guts to ask them whether there is a moderate Islam that can live in peace and tolerance next to another religion.

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  • They told us of their fear of walking the streets, or talking loud at home, with such thin walls. A clear reflection of life in East Germany, and the fear of the Stasi, the secret police. Neighbours cannot be trusted. And while they are abroad, constant phone calls to check on the welfare of their families.

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  • Assad is hated (I did not find out whether he was just as hated a year ago, or during the time of his father). And Israel is still vilified. Why? They were led to believe that Israel and US were the reason why Assad was so strong; received such support from them. What next will they believe of Israel? They appeared surprised – yes, and even happy – to be informed that such a story is…absolute rubbish.

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  • Assad himself is just a figurehead. The real power is the militia, the army. Yes, similar to East Germany. But there’s no West Germany to save them. The revolution has to come from within.

Can’t change the names in the next story. I hope she will forgive me.

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On 2 weekends at the beginning of November, Aviva and I entertained 2 groups of Dutch persons in Israel. They were some of the inside sales staff from my customer in Holland. The outside sales had been on a Summer trip to our HQ in Montana. Now it was the telesales team’s turn. And it was my idea to give them something different – but still special: a long weekend in Israel.

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Israel for them was this distant and dangerous place they talk about – negatively – in the media. Some were apprehensive about coming. They came with very little knowledge about Israel. And they wanted a weekend of fun.

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So we gave them Jerusalem, the Old City, a vegetarian restaurant in the Zionist Federation Building in Yemin Moshe, overlooking the old walls. We gave them a walk in the Old City (the first group actually stayed in the fascinating ‘Austrian Hospice’ in the Arab Quarter). They experienced the piety of the Wailing Wall – the men had to don kippas on their heads. Then to the Holocaust Museum.

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Not sure they’d ‘appreciate’ the visit, but it affected them; they asked questions, such as ‘who took the pictures?’. That revealed much about the Nazi times….

Then to the Dead Sea, a hit with everyone who experiences it. (Just lost out in November in an Internet vote for one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World).

Back in Tel Aviv, the night started with fantastic hamburgers at Moses in trendy Rothschild Avenue, and then our daughters led them into the city’s night life.

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On the 3rd day, a visit to the north. We showed them how the country had been built with the kibbutz system – the pioneers were too poor to work individually. We showed them that over 90% of trees in today’s Israel were planted since the Jews arrived.

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In the old days, most of the small population lived in the hills, trying to avoid the malaria of the swamps. We showed them the Jordan river, the place where John baptised everyone in sight. They saw the Golan heights, far too important to hand back to today’s Syria. They saw the beautiful Israel and Jordan valleys, green.

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In the evening, we welcomed them to our home to relax.

And on the last morning, they got to know Old Jaffa and the Port of Tel Aviv. Some swam again, this time without floating. And they shopped.

Group 1 –

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Group 2 –

        

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Marion Rozendaal was among them. She was around 5 months pregnant. She told us that she is married to a Cohen, Judaism’s most ‘orthodox’ name, meaning ‘rabbi’. Yet they were not religious, she was not Jewish, and they had in fact decided not to call their child Cohen. Too Jewish. There was not apathy in their decision. Perhaps some ignorance.

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At Schipol, She was surprised that Israeli security passed her through faster than her colleagues. They said it was because they thought she was Jewish – from the Rozendaal name. She was surprised at this, never having thought that thought.

Then she spent 3 days in Israel with us.

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10 days ago, we visited the company in Holland for a marketing meeting. We visited the telesales department. Marion hugged us, as did all the others. Then she added that she and her husband had decided to give their child the Cohen name.

‘Nothing wrong with being Jewish’, she said.

Stephen

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