357 e-mail messages and 774 spams awaited me on my recent “absence” from my computer while enjoying a mini-vacation here at home in Israel. Two of the many messages truly touched my heart. One was from my distinguished editor, Miriam Herschlag and the other was from Saul Chapnick, a devoted American reader. Both were concerned about my absence from writing. Their concern is certainly evidence of the warm bond between editors, writers and readers of The Times of Israel. Kol ha-kavod!
So I am back at my computer in total frustration. I had typed out a five page article and prepared to send it off for publication when, by an ignorant error, the article was deleted and could not be retrieved. Somewhere in the mystery world of computer spirits, some ghosts of the past will be reading my unpublished words. Sadly, I confess to being a computer ignoramus. I know how to read and to write e-mails and articles and that apparently is the sum total of my computer literacy.
Vacation? July and August are the source of the balagan (confusion) at Ben-Gurion airport with two million Israelis traveling abroad and a million more arriving. Favorite spots seem to be Croatia, Thailand, India, China, Vietnam , Italy, Greece, Rhodes, Malta, Russia and Hungary. Now Turkey has been re-added and Turkish merchants await gleefully for visiting shekel-rich Israelis to buy gold jewelry and fine leather goods.
This Israeli stayed at home enduring the immense heat and discomfort of the humidity. In the evenings I walked to the Gan Ha-Ir, city park, to enjoy a refreshing breeze. It is my very favorite spot in Rishon Lezion. Once upon a time roosters walked on its lawns or flew up onto the branches of the many trees.
Now I am reminded of two sayings, “it’s raining cats and dogs” and “the country has gone to the dogs”. The veracity of these words can be found in our city park. Hundreds of cats of all colors lie on the grass, hop on the benches, and approach the Russian grandmothers rocking baby strollers who feed them with slices of bread. Additionally, the dogs have taken over the park. One young woman parades with her four small Pekinese dogs, two on a leash, sits on a wooden bench while four of her dogs hop up on her lap. One evening, I attempted to count all the different dogs I could see. When I got to number fifty-six I stopped counting.
In 1883, the settlers of Rishon Lezion created a beautiful promenade called Shderot Ha-Dekalim, the Avenue of Palms. Fifty tall palm trees reaching to the heavens, twenty-five on each side of the promenade, display the majesty of the area surrounded by fountains of squirting water. This central promenade in the early pre-State days was the official greeting area for prominent visiting dignitaries.
Among them was Theodor Herzl in 1893, Baron Edmund de Rothschild and wife in 1901, followed by Lord Arthur Balfour, author of the famed Declaration bearing his name, Chaim Weizman, leader of the world Zionist organization who was to become much later Israel’s first President, Professor Albert Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Churchill, and General Sir Edmund Allenby, British conqueror of Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1918.
As a citizen of Rishon, I have contemplated withholding my municipal taxes until my name can be added to the list of the “prominent ones” whose feet have touched the paved stones of the Avenue of Palms !
Wonderful visits with my beloved family in Ramat HaSharon and Kfar Saba. Gigantic meals fit for a king! It is my only surviving family from my father’s side and my love for them and theirs for me is what history, films and books are made for. I have a very great love for my surviving family… Binyamin and Shula, Eitan, Tammy, Tzvika and Hava and their children. Being with them brings happiness into my heart.
But the latest news from the past week or so has been horrifying and troubling. First, our Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriages are not legal in Israel and that same-sex partners could not adopt children in Israel. This has caused frantic protest from the LGBT community. Those wishing to adopt a child must travel to Europe, mainly to Ukraine, in order to adopt and give love to an infant or very young child.
In disrespecting same-sex partners, our homophobic rabbis and statesmen would probably have ex-communicated King David and Prince Jonathan for their mutual love of which David wrote: “my love for you surpassed the love of women”.
Additionally, the haredi members of the coalition have threatened to withdraw and to topple the government unless our Prime Minister withdraws his promise to create a separate and egalitarian area near Robinson’s Arch, adjacent to the Kotel, to accommodate non-Orthodox worshippers, male and female, many of the women adorned in taleisim and tefillin.
Regrettably, Bibi Netanyahu has caved in to the haredi demands…all for the sake of keeping his seat as Likud leader and Prime Minister, rather than keeping his promise for egalitarian worship rights.
Politically, our news has been tragic. Recently, two young Israeli Druze policeman were shot and killed while on guard near the Lion’s Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem leading the approach to the Temple Mount. The three young Arab-Israeli terrorists were in turn shot and killed by Israeli police. The murders of the two Druze policeman were mourned by the entire nation. President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu were joined by the entire Cabinet and leaders of the national police and military units in a unanimous condemnation of the crime. The Druze community is the most beloved ethnic non-Jewish community in Israel giving total dedication to the State since its founding in 1948. They are among our bravest soldiers, Thousands of them have given their lives while defending Israel. Many of them serve as judges of distinction in our courts and on our Supreme Court. Druze and Jews have an ancient bond of love united by the memory of their prophet, Yitro, priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses.
I made a trip up north in Galilee to visit Druze communities in Daliyat-al-Karmil and Issufiya in order to express my personal condolences to members of the Druze community who embraced me and thanked me.
On the past erev Shabbat, a 19-year-old Palestinian Arab broke into a Jewish home in Halamish while the family was observing a Shabbat dinner and he shot and killed three innocent members of a family observing Shabbat. The intruder was shot and wounded by a passing soldier who heard the shouts for help. His family home is to be demolished as a punishment. But that cannot be enough!
Now there are cries from leading members of our Knesset and political parties urging that we establish a death penalty for terrorists. Not since the execution of Adolf Eichmann has anyone been sentenced to death in our country.
It is high time that our government agrees to the death penalty for terrorists who have murdered our civilians. Perhaps it may help to reduce terrorist murderers from committing their dastardly crimes.
I do not believe that peace will ever be achieved in this generation. Too much hatred. Too much insecurity. Too many demands which cannot be fulfilled.
We can never separate east from west Jerusalem again. We can never accept the refugees and families of the 1948 war. Their homes and lands are gone forever. Palestine is a dream which has turned into many nightmares . Palestinian Arabs have only two choices: those living in territories of Judea and Samaria, birthplaces of the ancient Jewish nation, can either accept Israeli citizenship and live in quiet peace with us or they can pack up their belongings and cross over the Allenby Bridge into Amman.
Whether King Abdullah II likes it or not, Jordan is Palestine. Seventy-seven percent of its land was torn away from historical Eretz Yisrael by Winston Churchill’s government in Whitehall in 1922 as a gift to the Emir Abdullah I of Trans-Jordan, leaving a small remnant of twenty-three percent to be shared by Jews and Arabs.
Jordan no longer has a Beduin majority population. It has been reduced by the large Palestinian majority. Therefore, Palestinians living in our territory would find themselves quite comfortable moving to their brethren in Jordan. And we, for our part, will not miss them as we look forward to security and tranquility.
As for the tens of thousands of Muslim protesters in the Old City of Jerusalem, hopefully we could remove the mosques on the Temple Mount (Haram al Sharif) and carefully transfer them to Mecca. Hopefully, the Muslim worshippers would follow. There is no problem for Muslims entering Mecca on pilgrimage to walk through metal detectors. But for the Muslims of Jerusalem, it is the cause of the uprising. Metal detectors can prevent weapons from being smuggled into the mosques where they are used by Muslims intent on murdering Jews and creating havoc on the Temple Mount. A very holy place.
Now I’m back in my home. Brief “vacation” has ended. The terrorism and protests have not. We need a much stronger government, one without fanatic religious members, so that the theocracy in our country may forever be ended and true democracy restored. Im yirtzeh Hashem. Insh’Allah. God willing.
Thank you, dear readers for caring. It is good to be at the computer once again (ignoramus that I am!)