Part 1: God make me deserve.

Magiyah li!

I love being a Jew.

From out of the blue, the recent war between hamas and Israel brought back a memory from my life in Jerusalem.

In the 1980’s on Jaffa Road, there existed the number 15 bus-stop, mispar chamesh-esreh. This was the bus-route to Palmach Street located in the Rechavia-Old Katamon area.

At this stop was located the only known residential bus queue in the city.

It was said that the Yekkes (Jews who came from Germany) many of whom lived on this route, had started it. A manifest advocacy for discipline and precision in public spaces.

I only once witnessed an oppositional event at this bus stop.

The bus came and an older woman with hennaed grey hair and a robust build, arrived to the queue, laden with shopping bags. With an un-ceasing momentum she bobbed and frisked her way to the front, clearing a path and chanting “Magiyah li, Magiyah li” ( I deserve, I deserve). The door opened, she ascended the steps and sat down.

Gob-smacked, the inveterate queue-attendants managed a few hushed verbals and a sprinkling of Talmudic fragments.

As a sweet South African I found some humour to lubricate another Israeli lesson in Applied Quantum Chutzpah (courageous audacity). New meaning shone upon moovan me’alav (logical and obvious) and duvkah and lamrot (against the grain, despite) and upon “no matter what” .

In July 2014 at the distal end of Africa, a whole eight thousand kilometres came between me and the state of Israel at war. The physical, emotional and spiritual impact of ±14 000 unrelenting hamas-Qatar rockets was impeded by a loyal, dark continent.

I’m lucky and thank God – I’ve never been in Israel, nor any other country, for a war. I am clueless about this kind of unremitting attack and the anxiety that goes with it, as was the case for those 50 days. How would I cope?

The Israeli people coalesce their resources in ways that resemble the cell-nucleus from our school biology classes. Bomb shelters prepared, routine drills practised, Israelis knew what was coming and invented a genius technological protector to obviate the predictable human deaths and reduce harm to structures.

Israel’s Iron Dome is famous, and even perversely coveted by the UN, its Navi Pillay advocating a “principle” of combatant sharing with non-Israelis too.

With centrifugal vigour, this war propelled a dizzy mass of Jew-haters. Fresh and old justifications, ways and people, appeared from under every rock. A veritable twister of human pus not seen, or heard or read, since the Jewish Holocaust of the 20th Century, it engulfed academics and lustful hooligans alike.

hamasenia gravus! It struck anything redolent of Jew, Israel and Zionist.

The war ended.

Israelis came out from shelters and did their 64 year-old band-aid trick of plugging roofs, walls and roads, dealing with the wounded, burying the dead, mourning with the mourners and resumed seeking a cure for Ebola .

Extreme life lived in tandem with extreme death. Israeli schizoid vigilance sets them apart from any other country on Earth.

Israel is certainly not South Africa.

How odd, Israel’s continued existence, given the antipathy of its chaotic neighbours and our current psychotic planet Earth.

How odd Israel’s endurance of the biased and corrupt UN. (Shabas on PM Netanyahu ) (UN Ban Ki Moon’s Flight provided by Qatar to Gaza)

As a Jew I am glad Israel is run by Israelis. They pick themselves up after their wars. Rehearsed stoicism and remorse, follow “the one more” fractured attempt to obliterate the Israeli people and the country of Israel.

What a mosquito of a place! Yet so carefully protected and so preciously created.

Israelis are not just Jews. They are more than.

Israelis have an unfathomable sense of deservedness. This is not the entitlement of victim-martyrs or refugees, exploited by lazy, rich, propagating brethren. On the contrary, Israelis are the custodians of a deep and immutable conviction: ein brerah live or die, love us or hate us. We are here. Israel is here. We live and we live here. Magiyah lanu , we deserve, and it is moovan meálav – a non-negotiable; logical-and-obvious.

Deservedness! The barely effable knowledge that Israelis deserve to make Israel exist. And more. Extrapolated is the conviction that they deserve to live, live well, love life, succeed, find cures, and construct a great economy.

No pummeling, hamas rockets, no UN spittle or envy, no South African naïve goodheartedness – can flinch or dislodge this sense of deservedness of these mega-stiff-necked people, so coined ambivalently, by our God.

Where does this belief reside? Heart? Mind? Genes? Is it taken down into the bombshelters, their secret weapon which gives rise to world paranoia?

Envied, admired and confusing, this belief can neither be destroyed nor extricated. It is predicated, after all, upon at least six million dead attempts to do so, as well as the writings of a very old Book.

Emile Durkheim’s words are fitting: (“deservedness” is an Israeli ) “collective consciousness – a totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society (which) forms a determinate system with a life of its own.”

God made the Jews deserve a long time ago. God made them deserve Israel too – a long time ago. The henna-haired lady of the number 15 bus, displayed this microscopically. Magiyah li, she said – “I deserve”, the words were a tool to staying put.

“I’m in my seat, I’m here to stay, I’m not going anywhere and you can sit somewhere else.”

Is “deservedness“ something that can be learned rather than coveted?

About the Author
Beverley Price grew up in apartheid SA, lived in Baka, Jerusalem studied in London, is a jewellery artist interested in the pre-colonial South African goldsmiths at Mapungubwe (900-1300 ACE). She lived for three years in rural KwaZulu-Natal (Ixopo ) after her return to SA in 1995 where she had her studio and learned to speak Zulu and more about the Zulu culture. As with many South African Jews, her mother is Polish and her late father was Lithuanian. She loves her sister-in-law, brothers, nephews, nieces and their children. She studied at Pardes in Jerusalem from 1983-1985.
Related Topics
Related Posts