Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

My sons’ generation

Last night at HaKufsa, a crowded bar close to where I live, Major General Yair Golan rt. gave an address on behalf of Avodah-Meretz. I squeezed my way through the crowd to an empty seat, ordered a glass of wine, and waited to be convinced that my decision to vote for Avodah-Meretz was the right one.

Though I dislike the label “Left”,  I have always felt that we on the left are truly in the right. Since coming to this land at the tender age of 18, I have only supported the Labour  movement, beginning with the first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s RAFI party.

In the early days, we were all so-called Zionists, especially those of us from the English-speaking countries, who did not arrive as a result of persecution, but rather through choice. I suppose we were also predominantly left. Although I had been in HaShomer HaTzair since the age of 13, I hardly realised that it was almost a Marxist movement, and therefore, left of center.

I only knew that we were not allowed to wear cosmetics, or even silk or nylon stockings, that had been brought into England by the Yankee soldiers stationed there during World War Two. Incidentally, they also distributed Hershey Bars, we hadn’t eaten chocolate like that for years! However, it was HaShomer which instilled a love of Israel, and planted the seed of my desire to make Aliyah, even before it was possible. At that time, 1943 – 1948, the British Mandate prevented even Holocaust survivors from coming into the land legally.

So last night, this elderly left-wing woman, joined others to be convinced by Yair Golan to vote Avodah-Meretz.

I, however, have never been an active Meretz supporter. Although in the 80’s, I got to know both the late Prof. Shulamith Aloni and Prof. Amnon Rubinstein well, and had great admiration for them.

Until I actually googled Yair Golan’s history, I was not aware that he is exactly the age of my youngest son, Micah. Although Micky, as we know him, did not make Major General, he had served in the IDF at exactly the same time as Golan, as had my oldest son, Peter, who is ten years his senior.

So with this in mind, I am putting into perspective what Yair Golan had to say.

He stressed the fact that peace with the Palestinian people was possible, if addressed in a holistic, realistic way, referring to a two-state solution rather than annexation! He emphasised the stale-mate in which we find ourselves today.

He reflected on his own military history and experience in the West Bank and Gaza. He is not blind to any of the possible pitfalls one could expect. However, since ultimately, it is in the best interests of both peoples, we must not ignore this window of opportunity.

Having been the Director of  BIPAC Israel from the Lebanon war in 1982 until the second intifada in 1992, I had conducted visits of foreign journalists and VIP’s into the territories, on an almost monthly basis.

I know a great deal about the Civil Administration and how they worked, especially in Gaza. I am of the opinion that the withdrawal from Gaza could have been carried out very differently.

Coming from the perspective of a man who until just recently dedicated his life to military service in the IDF, his sincerity and sense of purpose rang true. He could see a way to change the reality of the present situation, which is the deterrent to security and of course progress, whichever way one looks at it.

Prior to the amalgamation of Avodah-Meretz, we, the members of Avodah, were asked personally whether we were in favour.  I truly believe that this alignment of candidates has our best interests at heart, above and beyond the internal socioeconomic level.

Golan did not bad-mouth anyone, which indicated integrity and confidence.

He and the party have my vote. They cover all the aspects that trouble me, as someone who has lived here since the birth of the State.  I feel proud that my sons’ generation has produced outstanding and capable people, and I now have renewed hope for our future.

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.