Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

Difficult Times

matza (photo by Dorothea Shefer-Vanson)

This year’s Passover festival began under the cloud that has enveloped Israel ever since the mass demonstrations protesting the so-called ‘legal reform’ began. Yet preparations for the festival went ahead in the customary fashion, with spring cleaning and food purchases and preparations much as usual. By a quirk of the calendar, this year Passover coincided with the Moslem festival of Ramadan. It’s less of a coincidence that it coincided with the Christian festival of Easter, as Jesus’s Last Supper, held just a few days before his crucifixion, was almost certainly the Passover Seder. The hard-boiled egg which Jews eat dipped in salt water at the Seder has been taken over by the Christians in the form of chocolate Easter eggs, which might not be such a bad idea.

As Passover coincides with spring and lasts seven days, many Israelis take the opportunity to travel, either inside Israel or abroad, and once the Seder is over families take to the road and make for the traditional picnic spots and recreational parks. It is a time when Israel’s countryside is at its best, still green from the winter rains, and its lakes and streams replete with water.

Because of Israel’s fragile security situation our enemies have chosen this time to strike both from within and from outside the country. Tensions were high on the Temple Mount as Moslems barricaded themselves into their sacred Al-Aksa mosque, accumulating rocks and stones which were intended to be used against Jews gathering for prayers in the Western Wall plaza. Rockets were fired into the country from Lebanon and Syria in the north and the Gaza Strip in the south, causing some material damage but no loss of life. Palestinian terrorists succeeded in gunning down a car carrying a mother and her two daughters, seriously injuring the mother and killing the girls. Another Palestinian drove his car at speed along a bike track into a group of tourists in Tel Aviv, killing one and injuring the others.

Scenes of violence abound on our television screens, and the sight of armed Palestinian militias marching through their towns is enough to turn anyone’s stomach. Attacks by Israeli Arabs on other Arabs within Israel proper (the Green Line) are endemic and indicate the extent to which weapons are widespread among the Arab population within Israel. Both inside Israel and in the West Bank there is no shortage of weapons and general readiness to use them, whether against their own people or the others, namely, us. In fact, on consideration, it’s a miracle that there isn’t more widespread use of deadly weapons among the general population.

While the current government is undoubtedly responsible for maintaining law and order on an ongoing basis, it has chosen to play the blame game and accuse the previous government of being the cause of the current developments. Regardless of the fact that during the brief period of the previous government’s term there were far fewer rocket attacks and terrorist violence, the current government refuses to accept responsibility for the situation.

And so we, the general populace, are left to contend on our own with a situation in which the government abdicates responsibility for events and leaves us to cope with the anger and sadness that envelops us.

About the Author
I was born and brought up in England. I am a graduate of the LSE and the Hebrew University. I have lived in Israel since 1964. I am an experienced translator, editor and writer.