Monday, May 09, 2005

Israel at the moment

People are asking me what it is like in Israel at the moment. There are two ways of going about answering this question. One is to comment on the current political climate and my perception of it and the other is to give you a feeling of my personal everyday challenges living here….I will do both:

The situation here politically at the moment, everyone is talking about the ‘hitnadkut’ the withdrawal from Gaza. Walking around in Jerusalem, you can see orange signs everywhere. People wear on their wrists the same bangle that is in yellow, to support Lance Armstrong, but in orange in support of not withdrawing from gush katif. Many religious Zionists are not going to be celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in opposition to the government’s position, and Natan Sharansky has resigned from the Knesset. Everyday there are more and more trips being advertised to go to Gush Katif and visit – for the last time, which means to some extent people are accepting the reality of a withdrawal. In Tel Aviv there is no orange to be seen.

Speaking to a friend who used to serve there in the army, he says that the residents there have no respect for soldiers and pull their own guns out against the tzahal – Jews fighting Jews, and everyone fears the violence that will occur. It is important to remember that the government supported settling in these regions and is now saying they will no longer protect people who live there. So I guess ‘settlers’ there have every right to be mad at the government for ‘unsettling’ them, after they have dedicated their lives to building a homeland in that area. It must be very disconcerting to see your dream fall apart.

It presents a crisis to the Israeli Government who stand for the protection of Jewish people everywhere, and how they define this ideal, when considering the safety of its inhabitants and negotiation of borders.

On the day to day, I have not seen so many people walking around the centre of town for 5 years. For Yom Hashoah last week, I spent part of my day learning questions and answers people would ask their Rabbi’s while in ghettos and camps. One of them was ‘Can we take the clothes of dead people that have blood on them to wear them?’ The reason for asking this question is that when a Jew dies he should be buried with every part of his body in tact, so it is problematic to take away clothes that have their blood on away as this would mean that they would not be buried completely. It also demonstrates the dire situation these people were in, that they needed to wear the clothes of dead people to keep warm. The motivating factor, for asking this question is they want to do what is right, according to Jewish law, in order to survive. They were trying to survive.

Here I see people catching the bus, begging on the street, working in Hi-tech and making a lot of money, protecting borders, lying on the beach, eating in yummy restaurants and studying the religion of an ancient civilization. People, surviving.

P.S. They have painted the walls of Apple Pizza and it is an offence to graffiti on them.


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