Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Thunder clap!

In the early hours of this morning, I was rudely awakened by thunder and lightning. Since I live on the top floor of my apartment house we get the brunt of extreme climatic conditions.

For me though, my panic attack during such storms is totally connected to my experiences as a girl in the underground air raid shelters in World War Two. During the Blitz of London, I with others known as ‘vaccies ‘ were evacuated to the countryside. However, when we returned to our homes in Southern England were met with the barrage of  Buzz- bombs the V1 and V2. Then, as there was no time to get to shelters we slept in a kind of cage which would take the weight of a private house if bombed.

So I truly empathise with those who live on the Gaza border as I did with those from Kiryat Shmona, in the years prior to the first Lebanon war.

For those living outside the areas being attacked it was as if it did not happen. This is the normal attitude of most human beings until they are under fire. Only this detachment makes it possible to survive.

However every so often we are stopped in our tracks and forced to look at what is really happening to others.The innocent victims of sectoral, religious,demonic attack which can never produce any positive outcome.For even after a kind of normalcy will return no one can ever erase the trauma, the memories, the bereavement, no one,  nothing!

This was my day yesterday.

I was at Beth Frankfurt the community centre(donated by the town of Frankfurt, Germany) which is literally in my backyard. The event was in honour of Holocaust Day.

An impressive woman called Dr Gali Mir Tibon spoke about the book which has been recently published. It is dedicated to her mother who survived the Nazi occupation of Rumania.She described her mother’s experiences as 12 year old in Transnistria, a remote part of Rumania near to Ukraine.Thousands of Jews were sent there, before being moved to gas chambers. The book is called ‘Reshimat Ha-imahot’

‘Mothers List’ is written in such a way that one becomes emotionally and in my case spiritually and almost physically involved in what took place.

I was the same age as her mother in 1943 but what I experienced was nothing to the horrors that can never be erased from the minds of those who survived, or their children.So I found the tears streaming down my cheeks and turned my face away from those sitting near to me, for I did not want them to think that I was a survivor.

Actually, we are all survivors. The name Jew implies that.

We carry a load that has kept psychoanalysts going for years. Yet a generation is being brought up on a diet of heavy doses which includes: the victimisation which we have undergone, the sympathy that is due to us and within Israel the aggressive, self-importance and self-satisfaction that everything we do to others weaker than ourselves is justified.

The same evening I went to hear Itai Engel a journalist that I just love. As a mother, I feel the need to feed him and cuddle him and say”Why do you do it”?

‘Why do you go to places where there is so much dire misery and suffering, with no end in sight‘?

He showed us a film documenting his time with the Kurdish ‘guerrillas’ courageously fighting in  Iraq, Syria and Turkey, in an attempt to create a Kurdistan, where their people can finally be united on the land which they claim is theirs. The land where they had been settled for years and which has been split up for greedy political gain with no thought for those who inhabit it.

The footage depicts the horrendous destruction of homes, apartment blocks, schools, hospitals.Nothing is spared. So people are wandering but cannot even, legally cross borders. Nobody wants them but they are not refugees like those from Syria and Afghanistan they are literally fighting back.He showed us how the women and girls who were once from traditional homes are now soldiers in this popular army.We could see for ourselves the pluralism in their struggle.

Why should I care they are not Jews or are they? People punished just for being who they are? We have enough of our own problems but how much are we moved, at sights from Gaza or the West Bank?

Someone in this world has to stand up and say stop!

If we believe in a God,when the heavens open shall we ask ourselves is he crying.?

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.
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