May 14, 2008
It’s a strange time to write. Aviva and I were cleaning the roof (‘spongea’). We’re having a barbecue tomorrow. But we’re working with heavy hearts, as the radio is running 24 hours of Remembrance Day. No, nothing to do with the Holocaust – not directly – but remembering those who have fallen at the hands of our enemies since 1948.
I was going to write ‘in the wars’, but so many have fallen at other times, from suicide attacks, kassam rockets, knife attacks and other terrorist activities. Family members and friends are recounting the events. A mother lost 2 sons; she describes the empty rooms.
At 11.00, the 2-minute siren goes off. Just as when the siren sounds on Holocaust Day, the country stops what it’s doing and stands in respect, heads down. But it is strange to actually see that happen from my viewpoint: vehicles stop; drivers and passengers get out and stand quietly. Cyclists dismount, the mailman stands by his trolley. At the supermarket, I am sure the cashier stops checking – and no one in the line complains. At 11.02, the movements resume.
Then it’s Independence Day – the 60th. Every time I wanted to complete this, I had other things to do. For instance, I wanted to write that there were actually 3 official days of celebration: Thursday 8th was chosen because Saturday 10th (the correct day according to the Hebrew calendar) was a Sabbath. Can’t have that. And, according to the Georgian calendar, it’s tomorrow, May 15th. Which is why Georgie Boy arrived today.
The celebrations were really fantastic. We were invited for an eve party in a small town called Kfar Yona. All English except 1 token Israeli (Aviva) and 1 American (also married to an Englishman). Terrific barcecue etc. Then a walk to the town centre, where perhaps 30,000 were gathered to have ….fun. Fireworks display, every kind of amusement park event, live concert etc. And this a small town.
Next day, we went to the sea front of Tel Aviv to see the exciting ‘sail-past’ of some of the navy, including a sub, flanked by almost 300 sailing boats, and then the ‘fly-past’ of some of the air force’s helicopters, Phantoms, converted Boeing (command centre), the Israeli equivalent of the Red Arrows (just 4 of them) and then 1 Phantom, showing off. Not a ‘showing of Israel’s military might’, as per 1 silly BBC reporter, but still, quite a sight.
Then home to our barbecue on the roof. Another success. Same BBC reporter – or the Macleans magazine that I sent you yesterday – might have worried that ‘Israel was going up in smoke – but it was just ‘a couple’ of barbecues…