Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

‘Platform of equality, social justice and peace’

These are the words of Michal Zernowitski, an ultra-Orthodox woman who has just thrown her lot in with the Labour Party. Yes, at last, it will return to its original name, I hope. A name which has many interpretations. In the UK,  at one time it would have been the home of the working class. However there, it derived much of its strength from Jews who were descendants of East European families. They had found refuge in that land and found a way to pay back to society, through political activism. Today I really cannot understand what is going on there, Corbyn seems to have changed the name of the game. All I know is that there as here,  I have only voted Labour only Labour, for all of my life. I was even a member of RAFI, Ben Gurion’s breakaway party in the 60’s.

On the one occasion when I did, however, change my vote it was for Geoffrey Finsberg who was the Conservative MP in my area who had defied his Government and voted in favour of sending spare parts to Israel at the time of the Yom Kippur War. I happened to be there at that time when our sons were in Israel. In Britain, one vote’s for the “man” or “woman” whom they assume will truly represent them.

We are indeed living in confusing times. On one hand a swing to the right which defies belief in a country where if one can believe the statistics, one in four children”go to bed hungry”

During Tsena and Mitun I was not aware of any such statistics. True we did not have luxuries and fast foods, but we had basic staples and the mass of people kept to that. We were not fat or obese but were healthy and not hungry and filled with hope and pride.

So not only has a woman who emanates from a strict and controlling society where people tend not to step out of line but many others too younger, educated, idealistic people from differing ethnic backgrounds are joining the ranks of Labour and Meretz for similar reasons. Of them: the preservation of basic human and civil rights and freedoms, equality throughout society and a vision which includes security but truly faces the reality of what is possible and what is no longer acceptable or viable.

I consider that I was brought up as a kid in the UK with so-called Jewish values. Family interaction, respect for each other and authority, appreciation of the advantages in society without exploitation and with optimistic attitudes for the future. As immigrants, our grandparents had to “get on with it” or fall into a pit where none would offer a rope.

Here in this “chosen land” too many are brainwashed and helpless in the face of uncertainty. They look to what they call strong leaders who will “sort things out” without interference. They are in a way “passive” subjects. In recent weeks though there’s a resurgence of those who feel that they will take the reigns and without rejecting their leaders will find the way to rebuild society with hope and determination to change for the better.

I have met with a variety of those and feel stimulated by the thought that at last, this is what we have been waiting for. They say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going

I appeal to everyone who was becoming indifferent to the negative vibes because they felt that it was a losing battle, to gird their loins. To assert themselves not violently but with the passion and love for this unique and wonderful land in which we live, known  to Jews,  Arabs  and Christians alike as THE LAND.

At the end of the day it’s up to us.

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.