Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Land of Hope and Glory?

October 6th 1973 that date is imprinted on my memory, for that was the Shabbat on which I was fasting,praying for my sins to be forgiven in a London synagogue,when we heard that Israel was at war.

In Israel immediately after the Rosh Hashana celebrations we start talking about that war and the havoc it wrecked on our society, in the run up to Yom Kippur.  So it was on my mind when, on October 6th 2016 I boarded a bus in Tel  Aviv with a  large group of  white robed Women Wage Peace. Most were from the centre of the country but also with us was a contingent from the South. We were going to Kibbutz Ashdot Yaakov – Naharayim to The Isle of Peace, between Israel and Jordan There we would be meeting up with other women who had come from all over the country, to take part in the March of Hope.

Two days previously at  Rosh Hanikra  with  light from a new moon glinting on the rippling waves below, declarations to pursue change were made, interspersed  with music and song. From there a symbolic group of  Women Wage Peace comprising Arab and Jewish women, had set off on a gruelling march which will culminate in Jerusalem on October 19th, outside the Presidents’ Residence and the Prime Minister’s home.These marchers will be joined at many points around the country where events have been planned

Today’s news indicates that maybe we should also be outside the home of our Ministers of Defense and  Education for it seems their mindset is the opposite to ours.

It was only when I heard the words of Orna Shimoni the leader of the inimitable FOUR MOTHER’s group (who were behind the campaign to pull our soldiers out of Lebanon) at the surreal, peaceful border with Jordan that I burst into tears.. She spoke of her son who was killed in Israel’s first Lebanon war. She spoke about conversations with her son and from her very depths on what it is to be a mother who gives life and then almost relinquishes it when one’s son says ‘I am doing the right thing and goes off to war”

After we had returned from synagogue on that same Yom Kippur day my middle son went missing for a few hours.

Next morning he came into the kitchen where we were eating breakfast and looked at me saying these words”I have been to Rex House(the Jewish agency HQ in London) and I am on the first plane of volunteers out to Israel. He was 18 and about to start college in the UK. His next words were “Is that OK, Mum”?

I muttered “I wish that was me”

He was not killed in that war but died some years later from multiple myeloma. I am not as they say”a bereaved mother” but her words brought home to me  the futility of war, the preciousness of life and the relationship we have with our children whether we are Jews or Arabs. Moreover, the responsibility we have as free citizens living in a democratic society to do everything possible to find the road to a sustainable mutually agreed peace with the others who share our land.

The March of Hope speaks for so many of us.

Please find it in your hearts to support us whether physically or with messages of hope to the F.B page or  W.W.P website.

I was proud to be among these great women and some of their men yesterday.

Those who addressed us at the “Isle of Peace included Deputy Minister of Tourism Ayoub Kara. He spoke of joint projects with  neighbours with whom we have a peace agreement.  Of the vision of economic prowess and progress in the region, but not of Palestine. Others like the Head of the Moetza who with the kibbutznikim  had  so perfectly arranged the event , down to the luscious giant sized dates and juicy green apples we were treated to on arrival, spoke about their own personal encounters and cooperation with everyone in the area.

When the melodious notes of Mi Ha ‘ish in Hebrew and Arabic, resounded through this serene setting I hoped that the heavens would open up. I pleaded silently, that those who like the three monkeys do not or cannot see, hear or speak will face the reality that what every caring human being wants wherever he or she be, is to live in a secure and sustainable environment with equality and respect.

We left with hope and look forward….to glory.

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.