October 10, 2004
Already 2 weeks ago I felt I should be writing something. So much was happening; so many extremes.
I was too busy to write about the Haifa Film Festival. In fact, too busy to attend any of the films, but did experience some of the fringe events. Shows, displays, musical performances. We were devastated to discover that Arik Einstein had sung the night before. We missed him! Who? you might ask.
To cut a very long story short, he’s our king of song, our night-club Sinatra. But he’s also a shy guy; rarely performs in public.
He’s become such an enigma. Any pre-announced performance by him would fill several Shea Stadiums. Hence his surprise appearance in Haifa – where those there by chance were reportedly treated to a little night’s magic.
There were events all over the country: theatre in the moshav; music in the kibbutz; art everywhere. The largest art exhibition was held very close to us – at the Reading power station, temporarily Israel’s equivalent of the Musée d’Orsée in Paris or perhaps the Tate Modern in London.
Inside this ogre of a building were fascinating examples of inter-active art.
2 couples seated at a very laid table. Slowly but surely, they are tied down – everything is tied down. The table is ratcheted upwards until it is perhaps 10 feet in the air, so perfectly balanced that each breath seems to rock it. And then it is flipped over, and everything hangs down – yet nothing drops. It is flipped back, and slowly brought down again.
She is seated on the lower part of a haystack. She picks up individual strands of hay, dips them in some glue-like liquid, then in what appears to be flecks of gold foil, suspended in some solution.
Each ‘strand’ of hay is turned into gold…That’s it.
Another is sewing cards together, cards with a message, each different – thousands of them. She is upstairs. The cards, now connected (for ever?) are suspended downwards to the lower floor, and there they pile up – into a mountain of messages.
And there’s a wall of giant screens, showing the usual mish-mash of colours. But these are percussional screens; you can play them. One sounds like castagnets (or horses’ hooves), another is a bongo, yet another a base drum….Fun.
There were happenings in the parks, on the beaches and in the villages. We discovered not one, but 2 botanical gardens near us. One is part of Tel Aviv university, and, we have to admit, rather ‘poor’. Even the temporary expo on butterflies consisted of a room full of cheaply-placed vitrines of the dead type (some magnificent, but very dead), and when we were invited to have the experience of walking among live ones, there were pathetically few of some rather small ones. (Aviva and I walked among fluttering giants last year in New York).
But the second is part of Park Hayarkon (our local river), and is a jewel. We have lived almost on top of it all these years, and were unaware of its beauty. Rich growths of tropical trees, ponds with gorgeous fish and fowl, leaves large enough to wear and blossoms unknown.
Israel continues to shock, but happily, it also surprises, and they do outnumber the shocks.
40 km. down the road is Gaza. Despite everything, Gaza seems worlds away. Yes, we have security at every entrance, but that becomes part of our daily life. The horror down there is almost as far away as it is for those only watching on TV.
What do I think? For the first time in almost 2,000 years, the Jews have decided not to be the doormats for whoever comes along. They came to the only area which they felt they could call home – for the future, not just for today. As I have mentioned before, some never left this land. Aviva’s family are among several that have their physical ties with Israel going back over 500 years.
During those 2,000 years, rarely a weapon in the hand. Certainly, in the aftermath of WWII, they had so little, least of all aggression in any form. The neighbours were more than suspicious and/or apprehensive. They attacked and killed. But Israel is the place for the Jews’ ‘last stand’.
They would not buckle under as they have done for so long. Only the most extreme of pacifists would forbid protection of one’s home.
Of course, look at the Gaza situation today – for the first time – and perhaps one sees Israel as the real aggressor. But that’s being subjective, something I really do try to avoid. Palestinians DO live in peace with Israel, IN Israel, as Israeli citizens. When a Labour Party member recently resigned/retired from the party, the next on the list was an Arab, a Palestinian, a Moslem.
And now he is the 8th or 9th Arab member if the Knesset.
As I have mentioned before, check whether any Palestinians are members of the Egyptian, Lebanese or Syrian parliaments. Only Jordan does so, where the Palestinians are over 60% of the population (in Israel, about 18%) – and I do not think one can choose Jordan as the Palestinians’ greatest friend – whence Black September?
Palestinians and Israelis can live together. They do – in Israel. I know you know – because I have written all this before. If we can live in relative peace in Israel, with perhaps 100 years of conflict around us (with Palestinians and their ‘brothers’), how can there be a problem with those living outside Israel?
Leave us alone, dear Yasser, and we shall leave you alone. You really do not deserve all this attention. You deserve the same attention that exists between normal neighbours, like Scotland/England, Sweden/Finland, Austria/Germany. No more, no less.
I wish the Israeli Palestinians had the guts to say what I am saying. But then they’d be in danger of their lives….
Aviva and I stayed at the Taba Hilton over a year ago. We noticed that it was very popular with the Israeli Palestinians – and with those from Gaza. There we could mix. Eliana was due to spend a few days this weekend in Nueiba (Sinai), where the 2nd attack occurred last week. We even had part of our honeymoon there (although it was then still in Israeli hands.
I was asked why did Israelis ignore their government’s advice not to go down there during the recent holiday period?
What’s wrong with Eilat?
Well, have you seen how much Red Sea coastline there is in Israel (which is Eilat). 5 km. maximum. Even less than poor Jordan, whose border bashes into Saudi Arabia just a few km. down the coast. The Red Sea is beautiful, the beaches are special (when compared with those on the Med). The Egyptians have been developing some resorts of course, but on the whole, that has been only positive.
The Israelis are hungry for such beautiful breathing spaces. Life does have to go on.
Surely the question is: why don’t they stop killing? Peace is a fantastic weapon.
With the US (and UK) elections coming, the rights and wrongs of going into Iraq are being hung on the washing line. At the time, I really was in 2 minds. I felt that the man had to be stopped, but I also felt that Bush & Co could have afforded – and should have ‘come clean’ with the real reasons for going in. No half-truths. I felt they could have waited; it would have hurt no one.
And now, in hindsight, there is no question in my mind that the only way to fight terrorism (if that’s what it’s all about) is for everyone to be against it; not just Bush & Co.
Bin Laden et al are against any sign of advance, of western technology, of free enterprise, of any free thinking. The Jews may feel the point of the knife, but everyone’s a potential target. (Hitler killed millions of non-Jews). Like it or not, we need the world against these guys, and right now, that’s the UN. Terrorists will continue to exist as long as they see divisions among their enemies. And right now, they’re ripping the World apart.
And now it’s October 27, and because of technical reasons, I can only today consider sending this e-mail.
It’s a week to go till the US elections. PLEASE LET THE GOOD GUY WIN!!
Yesterday, the Knesset voted to leave Gaza. It was not really part of the peace negotiations. It’s quite simple – like in Lebanon, if the enemy does not want peace, if they do not allow a mixture of citizens, then we separate the 2, draw a clear border, and NOW we can clearly identify the enemy.
Tragic, but that’s how it is.
Many of the settlers are not the ones you see screaming on the TV. They are people who were convinced by the then government to settle, with peace as the expected target. They built beautiful homes and villages, farms and small industries. A great potential partner for the Palestinian neighbours. Now they have to uproot. One tragedy after another.