Monday, August 28, 2006

The Summer of Ilana

Well it's me with short hair again...and Ilana! Oh, I will miss you so! It has been so much fun...The film festival...the wine festival...the beaches..Tel Aviv etc...Summer wouldn't have been the same without ya!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Once upon a Kibbutz

Once upon a kibbutz, 7 years ago, 9 girls and 1 guy came from lands far away, to work the fields or in my case scrub the kitchen with toothbrushes in preparation for Pesach. On the first day I saw a city over yonder and pondered where could that be? The answer received nonchalantly was, “Gaza”. In the months that followed many collectable memories were created….

Partying with Kibbutz boys and returning home at 5am, losing one of the girls temporarily – Keren where were you that night anyway? Arriving back and the shomer (guard) at the gate being unimpressed and as a consequence, by breakfast we already received disapproving comments…you gotta love a Jewish Kibbutz, (not that I really know any kibbutzim that aren’t Jewish).

Waking up to the smell of cows, going to bed with the smell of cows and the smell of cows permeating every crevice of your room…Lice from the Kids…Building a Succah that the entire kibbutz can eat lunch under. Gossiping about everyone, as we got to know them. Cleaning out the pool, spilling paint on the side of the pool, and going to my kibbutz friend, pulling a pouty face and having him save the day…

Now 7 years later, Gaza is still there, but we can no longer hang out at the beach we used to frequent. The kitchen is still there and the tap that pours out oil. The kibbutz boys can still dance the night away. The cows still stink and the paint stain by the pool is recognisable to a trained eye.

As I wandered around remembering feelings whilst retracing footsteps, one thing that undoubtedly remains and has flourished is a friendship forged between one Aussie girl and one tye-dyed t-shirt wearing kibbutznik. With a heart full of joy I was privileged to witness the marriage of two of my friends and share in a glimpse of their happiness last week.

Admidst noises of targeted bombings, the happy couple were whisked away on a tractor to a future kibbutz style.

Tafnit ’99 ‘Alumimed’ IT.

Eilat and I at the Kabbalat Panim
(Yeh I cut off all my long tresses)

Eilat saying Bircat Kallah, with a proud Daddy by her side.

The Bride Circling the Groom

Whisked away on a tractor after chuppah...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A number paints a 1000 misnomers

I always think it is interesting to hear new reports of the numbers of people who are killed as a casualty of war. I always wonder what is the significance of hearing these numbers? Are the numbers reported as some sort of measure, that perhaps the side that incurs more loss deserves more pity? Is it via numbers that I am meant to gauge the intensity of the conflict and understand the mechanisms and motives behind military action? What are they representing, what are they measuring? What is the quick message being protrayed in a headline using a number?

As an observer of the current conflict, it is plain to see that both sides are suffering and I do not need numbers to tell me this. Everyone wants an end to the war, and the question on everyone’s lips is how and when will this end? An obvious place to start is to try to remove the root of the evil causing it. I do believe that from all the reports I have been observing here on television, this is the aim of Operation Summer Rains by the Israel Defence Force. Hizbullah are listed by the many countries including the USA and Australia as a terrorist organisation. They are financed heavily by Iran. Hizbullah have a history of carrying out kidnappings and firing rockets into Northern Israel and promoting war against Israel. Hizbullah need to be stopped, physically and financially.

Sometimes I feel like Israel receives a lot of criticism and tolerates it, because it is the only country in the region that will allow free speech and whose government is democratically elected and not led by a major terrorist organisation. Israel lets in foreign press to report freely all around and as a result you hear reports of these numbers that I mentioned before. The Israeli people suffer the consequences and are the victims of biased media. Reporting numbers gives a sense of melodrama that is ‘disproportionate’.

If I was going to be critical of Israel it would be in the issue of negotiating Peace. Asking for Peace is a catch slogan that has become outdated. Israel needs MORE than peace, they need the Palestinian people and other Muslim populations to educate their children not to hate, to recognise the state of Israel, to stop financing and supporting terrorism, to stop sending Katuysha rockets into Israel proper and start taking responsibility for the terrorist actions of their people. I do believe that the only way that terrorism and the cycle of violence in the Middle East will end, is through a revolution in the education of people. What good will changes of government be, if they the new government have been brought up on the same propaganda that was being perpetrated by the previous government? We need a long term plan, otherwise Israel will constantly be bogged down in fighting Physical violence and in constant search for short term solutions to a long term problem.I really want to stress that I believe deeply in education as a major combat weapon in the fight against terrorism that is undervalued, and in the Middle East has the potential to turn the situation on it's head...but it needs time.

You can not begin to educate people in the presence of violence. Until such a period exists, Israel has every right to defend itself. This fact is constantly being seen as the instigation of a cycle of violence with no relent, which is an unfair portrayal on the part of international media. The Israeli army is called a ‘defence force’ because from day 1 after the declaration of independance surrounding Arab states have been declaring war on them continuously. The story of Israel and Lebanon is an old one, this current situation is in effect a repetion of what happened in the early 80’s. Israel is involved in defensive wars on average every 10 years, as a consequence, social issues of the country are put on the backburner while issues of security have to be dealt with, therby limiting economic development. Israel is incapable of dealing with social issues that require much attention, if it is constantly being attacked, and again the Israeli people suffer living in debt, and levels of high stress, and family who are being sent to war. It is the personal stories of suffering behind soldiers and civilians, of a struggle to survive for a right to freedom that numbers will never convey.

I am always amazed at the lengths that Israel goes to ensure minimal injuries to civilians, they have been dropping pamphlets in Lebanon giving prior warning of strikes so people can evacuate in contrast to the actions of suicide bombers who enter Israel and blow themselves up on public buses with no regard for innocent civilians. Israel are trying to carry out targeted bombing of Hizbullah cells and hideouts, in contrast to Hizbullah who are randomly shooting rockets into northern Israel, whose aim is just to destroy. I find it really hard to justify pure hatred for the self determination of a people, with no regard for the human life which might be lost as a casualty, in actual fact I can’t. The newspapers in Israel have spread on them the stories of the personal tragedies of members of ‘klal yisrael’ the community of Israel. In Israel life is precious, everyone feels the pain and everyone is affected, because that has been the history of Israel and the Jewish people, since time immemorial. Perhaps you might even go so far to say as, you are not Jewish until you have experienced loss, until you have the burden of perpetrating memory. That is my history but I do not want that to be my future. It is because of the way that Israel to do view casualities not as numbers, but as humans, that we have to support them, and say no to terrorism, violence and the perpetration of propaganda against the state of Israel, once and for all.