Few days after winning Eurovision by Netta Barzilai, after the Day of Jerusalem and opening of The American Embassy in Jerusalem and the black Monday in Gaza… all in one week, I am being asked many questions about why people are having fun in Israel, this week. Intense week, we all must say. And yet, two days before Shavuot, the first day of Ramadan. This morning I said ‘Chag Sameach’ to the Jewish man I bought tomatoes from and ‘Ramadan Kareem’ — to the Arab seller I always buy parsley from, at the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv.
Life goes on, but this week with more interest from outside of Israel than usual.
“How people can celebrate when there are people being killed?” — I hear from both some of my Israeli born acquaintances and many of my friends abroad. I spent hours trying to explain the situation. But I am not a politician nor a soldier, it’s hard for me to defend the Israeli right to defend its borders and citizens. And explain that those poor children (I really mean it) are being used by Hamas, that the terrorist organization doesn’t care about their lives. And it’s hard to explain, that knowing that on that Monday all the cameras would be on Israel due to the opening of The American Embassy, Hamas was preparing riots for that day for long weeks. It was obvious that actions of Israeli army the whole world will see, and will see the way Hamas wanted it to be seen.
“But why people were having fun?”
That night Israelis were still celebrating the winning of the Eurovision and welcoming Netta Barzilai in Tel Aviv. Guilty, I did celebrate and danced on the Rabin Square, too. I cannot explain the decisions of the Israeli Army (in my eyes the Army defended Israeli citizens), there was much written about that. But I think I can explain the need for joy. The joy that people of Israel know how to experience and probably learned how to express fast, before new hard days may come.
Let’s go back another two nights, the night of 12th of May, the actual night of the Eurovision. We Won! I am not a sports fan, but the emotions were of that kind that night. We won! I joined people walking to the Rabin Square around 2 AM, where more and more people were coming to share that happiness. People singing, dancing, jumping to the fountains, opening windows to join that positive moment for Israel. People of all ages, secular and religious. Suddenly the religious melodies were mixed with the “Toy” song. And to make it even funnier, imagine, all the young men at the square singing: “you stupid boy”. After 20 years Israel won Eurovision, again. The contest that is not that important in Europe anymore, but here grew up to the biggest victory.
At 4 AM, walking back from Kikar (Square) Rabin someone told me: “finally some luck, something good”. We were walking in the drops of rain and smiling. I thought what was in between the lines of what he has said: after treats of Iran of destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa, rockets in the North, BDS actions against the Israeli singer – “finally something good”. In Israel, the moment of announcing Eurovision results was the explosions of joy. Because there is a hunger for “something good” here.
“I love my country. Next time in Jerusalem” – how happy we all were to hear those words, at this very moment not thinking of politics. But this statement became right the way. The talented girl who won the contest, ‘the fun pop star’ – as Netta calls herself, said Jerusalem. Not Israel, not Tel Aviv, but Jerusalem. The Eurovision organizers didn’t want to welcome Israeli journalist with the phrase: “Good evening Jerusalem”, but Netta told the world where is the Israeli capital. I assume she did not plan it. To most of Jews, those supporting or protesting against the actions of Israeli Army now, Jerusalem is the capital. Whether The American Embassy was open there this week or not.
Was it nice to hear that the Embassy was opened in Jerusalem, Israel? I must admit, yes. I believe, every state has the right to choose its capital, but it is nice when other acknowledge this choice. Like inviting friends home for dinner, you don’t want them to sit in the other room if you set the table in the dining room. And Jews were preparing this room for thousands of years. Building the city, praying to go back to the city and fighting for the city. Did the fact of the opening of The Embassy in Jerusalem will help Israel? The history will tell us. But the capitol was already there, so just before the big move, it was natural to say by Netta: “Jerusalem”.
Would I ever think of writing an article about Eurovision, the pop culture, and the Gaza conflict, and the right of Israel to Jerusalem in one piece? No. But following the questions that are being asked, apparently, those topics cannot be separated, nowadays.
“Are you happy?” – I asked my friend about her private life, today. She answered with a question: “what is it happiness?”. In general, I don’t know. But the night of the Eurovision I saw pure happiness in thousands of eyes! That has nothing to do with politics. “Toy” brought the joy! The big conflicts will not be solved overnight. But the tremendous joy of something good, is what people need here more than anything, now.
Chag Sameach, Ramadan Kareem.