October 26, 2005
It is long since I wrote my last message from Israel.
Since then, we have seen natural disasters on enormous scales, elections in so many countries, from Liberia through Poland to Germany, assassination in Lebanon, and my daughters went (tandem) skydiving for their birthdays. No wonder the Middle East has been out of the World’s headlines.
We have just seen the last of the annual series of Jewish holidays, yesterday’s marking the end of Succoth – Simcha Tora is the happy festival of the beginning of a new year of weekly bible studies. Synagogues around the country vibrate to joyful songs and dancing. We have 2 next to us; one Ashkenazi, for the Jews from central Europe, and the other is Sephardic, for those originally dispersed from Spain during the Inquisition.
(Most of these settled in northern Africa, in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen etc., some went to UK and Holland, Greece, Turkey – and a few, like Aviva’s family, made it all the way to Israel). While I write this, I hear the surprisingly pop music sound coming from one of the synagogues downstairs.
October 27th – Murphy’s Law. No sooner do I put finger to key again, there is the first major suicide bomb attack in Israel in months, Israel retaliates with a missile attack, and the President of Iran goes back to the Khomeini- type ranting for the ‘wiping out’ of Israel.
And today, at Swedental exhibition, a local dentist ignores decent behaviour by stating to me his belief that ‘Israel is the leading terrorist state in the World’. He neither ordered my products, nor would I have allowed it.
Such blindness, such ignorance. But he is not alone, and I fear for the future, when apparently decent, intelligent and well-read persons have really no idea about the world of the Middle East.
3 years ago, I wrote about my first really blatant experience of anti-Semitism, when a ‘friend’ of over 30 years in the dental business attacked me electronically with e-mails and a Powerpoint presentation of horror, blood and labels of Nazism. I met him again recently. Approached him while he was building his stand at an exhibition. He automatically offered me his hand in greeting. I avoided that, and explained why. “I am not anti-Semitic”, he said, “I am only anti-Zionist”. Well thank YOU. He and the Iranian P.M.
I shall not shake the hand of either. I have few people with whom I wish no contact (‘enemy’ is such a ‘final’ word), but these two are pretty close to the top of the list.
Let the skies of Israel continue to be filled by sights such as sky-divers, and the airs filled with nothing more than pop music from the local synagogue.
And in November, I shall attend the Israeli dental exhibition. Among the visitors will be Arabs (oh, shock of shocks),
Muslims (may God preserve us); Palestinians who are known in Egypt as the ’48-ers’ – those who stayed in Israel after he Independence War.
Despite what is happening across the borders, despite the tit-for-tat between the ‘other’ Palestinians and the Israeli army, I shall be happy to demonstrate my produce to these Palestinians with whom we live in peace.