Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Memories and reflections under fire!

The scream of the siren, I gather some clothes still half asleep and run to the safe room. At least I am a lucky one, I can sit in  safety in my undies,no public shelter for me. Then again several times during the day I go to my safe room and can hardly pull the metal window across since I broke my wrist ,but do I care?. At my age I can be ambivalent about what happens to me.I have had my life in this land to which I came at the age of eighteen to help build the State of Israel.

Israel a country  of locals and immigrants all dedicated to the “land”. A place which would be a symbol to the world, of a model society based on traditional values.

While I am alone I reflect on my childhood during the Blitz.Watching the scenes on television I see  myself running with  my cousins and hundreds of other frightened people to the deep underground shelters in London. As small as we were we carried quilts, food and toiletries since we knew that we would be there all night.

On emerging from the shelters in the early morning-the Luftwaffe only came at  dusk,we never knew if our homes would be habitable. For many they were not and the bodies in the streets of those who did not make it to the shelters was a horrific sight for kids and one which would never be erased from our minds.

Later after the Blitz we had the Buzz Bombs. They were the last ditch stand of the Germans launched from the Northern beaches of France.They only reached Southern England but London was the target.The V 1 made a sound hence their name, but the the V 2 were more powerful and noiseless. The sirens screamed but usually after they had dropped.It was not unusual to see people blown off their feet.

I look at the screens and see myself and I break my heart for the people who live on the borders of GAZA who for 13 years have endured this nightmare.The rest of us in Israel living further North, looked on sympathetically as their lives were totally disrupted.We empathised  with problems: traumatised children and those whose homes had been destroyed, randomly. Some of us offered help, remember the evacuees who came from the North to the centre during the Katyusha attacks?. I lived in Netanya then and we welcomed the families with open arms,for a short time.

We too escaped to the coastal towns in the North of England in 1944 for a respite from the V bombs and like those who have fled to Eilat arrived at the seaside in high season and found it too expensive to stay for long.

World War Two ended 69 years ago and most Europeans have not had to undergo that horror since.

We in 66 years have never had the luxury of years of calm. In the period from 1949-66 we had a kind of peace. We lived within the so called green line . At night in moshavim and kibbutzim,  guards from among the members, sat in a lookout with a rifle to prevent Fedayeen from attacking us.  Overall though, not withstanding 1956, they were peaceful years of  economic privation, but  a sense of unity and hope.

True we did not have access to the Kotel or the Old City of Jerusalem but we felt that we were”home”.

Today we have  mixed feelings about what our future will hold. We know that we do not want the conflict to continue.Some are concerned about those innocents on the other side, caught up in this strife. Mostly we think about our personal safety and at last we in Tel Aviv have a taste of what our fellow countrymen,women and children in the South, have endured for much too long.

Life will hopefully return to normal soon and we will have political challenges ahead but I want to ask all of you,where has everyone overseas been during this time?. I have hardly heard from anyone in Britain or  the USA. Do they see what we see on our screens? Are they afraid to be politically incorrect??

Is it not the thing to be concerned about our day to day life under bombardment? I find that very strange but also a trifle worrying.

Maybe they just don’t care?

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.