Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Is this Chelm?

Today I had a call from an old friend in England with whom I was very close when she and her family were our neighbours in Haifa in 1949.After a romantic,courageous and almost foolhardy attempt to settle in Israel they left and never returned.I on the other hand left and returned twice,with my family.For the past 35 years I have fought publicly, for what I believed to be was right for this country.The range of my exploits was from changing the electoral system, Israel’s image abroad commonly known as hasbara, to the prevention of road carnage.

Sadly not all of my dreams have come to fruition but that does not change my deep emotional belief, that this is where I want to be.

Being stuck at home with a broken leg,due to a neglected Jerusalem pavement,I have had a lot of time to focus on what is really happening around us! Not all of us have that luxury.

I truly feel that we are indeed living in Chelm.One incident after another of 13 year old girls being sexually abused by gangs of teen boys.Yet another accusation of sexual abuse which threatens the potential of a Minister to become President of Israel.Our revered and much needed Foreign Ministry,the bastion of preserving or promoting Israel’s image abroad,falling apart. The Foreign Minister who was absent on leave for a while when undergoing investigations,has not addressed the issue,publicly. Maybe he still thinks that BIBI is still acting Foreighn Minister?Groups of youngsters recognised on TV,whose “tag mahir” price tag activities,terrorising the  “ordinary”Palestinians living in their villages, have gone unpunished for six years.Our Prime Minister’s housekeeper’s publicly criticising once again the happenings in the personal household of the man, whom we are trusting to lead us to settling the conflict with our neighbours,amomgst other things.The political dinosaurs who are front runners to be our next President, when we need a truly forward thinking and worldly person to carry us through these turbulent times and maintain the ties and integrity,created by Shimon Peres.

Television does not excuse us from facing the real problems of our society and its institutions which are supposed to safeguard us. In fact it reminds us with almost shock tactics of the ills therein. It takes us into the homes and lives of huge sections of ordinary people whom we may know or not. revealing brutal and frightening situations and conditions.It raises our consciousness to the futility of an electoral system whereby the elected representative is in no way accountable to the voter.It also provides a plethora of “reality”shows.Real human beings,VIP’s,celebs so called, exposing themselves to the viewing public.Its obvious which viewings get the highest ratings but ad nausea?

Is this escapism or simply “feeding” a human desire to watch the disgusting and pathetic behaviour of others.

Or is this just a symptom of what we have become?

Israel is undoubtedly a stressful place to live in. Its also the  emotional and spiritual,centre of the world and for reasons which should be obvious to most of us, the focus of world opinion.This should be our strength not our weakness.

At this moment in time the country is divided into two camps both of whom ostensibly want to live in “peace”. However both have almost conflicting ideas of what that means in the long run.

We are  at a crossroad of which the implications can be disastrous or significantly positive.

There is no way that an ordinary Israeli citizen who only wants to put bread on the table,have a safe and secure place in which to live and bring up his family, can explain to the outside world why almost every move we make  worsens our self image.There’s also no way one can explain the appalling poverty level. Are we truly a”light unto nations”?

Theres a silent march for peace on Friday, at Tel Aviv Port.

Israelis, Jews and minorities, will be there, with a few Palestinians who can get permits to attend. Do we really know what we are marching for?

Does our Prime Minister even address us? He has time to go on a satirical chat why not a little chat with the public ocasionally?.

Are we in a Chelm of our own making?

My friend who chose England,does not have these problems.

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.