Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

A day of peaceful co-existence

I decided against going to the Rabin Memorial Rally last evening since I had been at the Darkenu rally last year and was appalled at what took place. In my heart, I hoped that this one would be different, but there’s a stark reality out there. Two narratives as to why and how Rabin our prime minister was killed. As long as there’s no reconciliation and a profound and unified voice which says “Never Again” there’s not a chance.

Sometimes, I feel as though I am on a roller coaster and cannot get off.  There are other times when one realises that if not for the diet of hatred and mistrust that has been dished up for so long, there’s a real chance that at least within Israel, we who live on this land can and should co-exist in neighbourliness, mutual respect and equality.

When I hear people say”Haif Otam“-sling them out, or as recently WE and THEM, I go back to my childhood in England when I was “the other”. You people, those people-them.”

Even during WW2 although I was at a prestigious girls school where “anti semitism” was considered a reason for expulsion, there were friends who came to my home and  whispered in my ear”I cannot tell my father I have been to a Jewish house”

One man in this country in a humorous fashion knocked on the head, at least temporarily, the WE and THEM  adverts of a seemingly responsible political party, during the recent local elections.

So yesterday I  suggested to my friend from Berlin who is here on a mission for strengthening bonds between our countries, that we travel to UUM Al FAHM  which is in Wadi Ara, to an open house art exhibition.

As I have relinquished my driving license since my sons’ felt that at my advanced age I would be a road hazard, she hired a car.

Since we had not realised that all the car rental offices would be shut on Shabbat we had to go to Ben Gurion Airport to collect the car. Due to the fact that the airport is so vast we seemed to walk miles before we even got to the booking office. I must say though, that the service was not only efficient but most pleasant.

She had never driven an automatic car before and so it was a great adventure and with me beside her believe it or not, she felt confident and we set off up North.

Not thinking, I told her just to put in the name of the town on WAZE, saying”I know that we will find the Gallery quite easily since we go into the town from Wadi Ara and it is somewhere near to the entrance.

We used  WAZE and after an uneventful and easy drive on route 6 arrived at a rough, unsigned road which I assured her must lead to where we wanted. We drove through tortuous streets lined with cars and rubble the like of which she had never experienced. It was exciting but we were simply bewildered so we asked someone who had parked his car at the roadside ahead of us if he knew where the Art Gallery was. “What,” he said, “It’s the other side of town”. I then realised my mistake but timidly said “Can you tell us how to get there” he replied” you will never find your way I will take you, follow me.”

He delivered us to our destination and due to our tardiness in getting there because of the hire car fiasco at Ben Gurion, it seemed that we had missed everything. We entered the seemingly empty Gallery were approached by a man who seemed to be cleaning up and when we explained our predicament and also that we needed the toilets, his face lit up and he pointed to the stairs and said “up there”

To our delight at the top of the stairs, we discovered two floors of wonderful works of art and an artist called Sana Farah Bishara who with her husband was rearranging her extraordinary and multi-faceted display. It seemed that earlier hundreds of people some from the centre of Israel too, had visited the exhibition. She pointed us to a desk where there were delectable tasties, dates, peanuts, coffee and  jugs of fresh lemonade with mint.  “Please help yourself,” said the smiling young woman at the desk who also pointed to the books and postcards displayed.” Some books are for sale and other things you can take.”

Following the warm reception and tasty refreshment, we decided to get underway and return to Tel Aviv. We were undecided about the Rally.

Since I was anxious not to use WAZE again I asked several people the direction to the main road and to Tel Aviv. The response was smiles and a willingness to help and explain.

As expected the return journey was impeded by heavy traffic and we decided to stop at the beach in Herzlia. In Berlin, there’s no beach. There we found a Landvers restaurant where the young waiters were again friendly and helpful the service impeccable and the food very tasty. Then, of course, its a must to sit at the beach in the dark, she paddled a bit and I just relaxed.

In the event we went home and waited to see the TV coverage of the Rally.

It was only this morning when I heard Zippy Livni on the radio that my worst fears were realised and it was obvious once again, that we have not yet found a path which is Darkenu-OUR WAY! Only Birgitte and me had found peaceful co-existence on that day.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.