Zelda Harris
Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Independance Day and me!

To tell the truth, I can hardly call myself independent these days, From early childhood, I was taught to take care of myself and not to be envious of others. Now, I depend very much on the kindness of my family and some friends.

Losing my father in my early teens accelerated my sense of independence and so I forced my mother to agree that I leave school at sixteen and go to find work. Now, I am an elderly pensioner, a bit wobbly on my legs and eternally forgetting the last thing that I did or the next that I must!

Israel was always in my heart so I basically followed my sweetheart, who had joined Machal. He had been sent to Paris where he had been helping the Jewish Agency to process the thousands of N. African and European Jews. Almost all of the second category were survivors of the Holocaust. They were then sent to Marseilles to wait for boats that would take them to their destination.

We drove from Lud Airport to Tel Aviv to spend our first night before going to the  Northern Kibbutz on which he was working, replacing men who were at the battlefront. All I could see as I peered out of the window were scorched fields on either side. Also, hasty camps had been set up.

So, looking around on this day, I am proud on one hand and fearful on the other. True we cannot expect our kids and their families to totally identify with our personal experiences but as a nation that claims to be an independent Jewish State (I prefer “A state for all its citizens”), I see clans who actively work against one another. Or at least have been encouraged to go in one direction and that is to follow a leader and his cohorts. Some question because of their deep and anachronistic religious beliefs, and others cannot come to grips as to how we got to where we are today.

As for the Israelis who left for the material or creature comforts that they can expect in Europe or America, Canada and Australia, I can only say it breaks my heart. They at least might have created a balance, against the rising tide of extremism and worse. I do not want to put it into words.

So work at being independent, do not let anyone pull wool over your eyes.

In general terms, we have a wonderful country that encompasses the three monotheistic faiths.

Incredibly bright and motivated human beings most of whom I believe would truly like to live in peace with those with whom we share a land.

Not that I expect a prestigious prize or award anytime now. I already had that experience of being rejected by Nefesh be Nefesh because of my political affiliations and the fact that I was not religious enough.

So, God Bless our ship called Israel and all who sail in her, may she always remain independent!

Hag Atzmaut Samech!

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.
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