Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Will the younger generation surprise us?

Tension is palpable in the country with the elections approaching at a pace. There are mixed messages from the political arena and it will be a fight, to the end result. I truly hope that the vote of young people and of the women in our land will be the deciding factor. I do believe that young people have more open minds and are not easily swayed. I am not surprised if they are disgruntled and hope that they will not in most cases, submit to the pressure of their parents as to which way to vote.

At the Labour party primaries, I was impressed by the calibre of and the active involvement of younger people. They support a range of ideas from both religious identity to social and environmental activism, freedom of expression, equality and more.

Last Friday on International Women’s Day in Rabin Square the predominance of Women Wage Peace representing both Jewish and Arab women old and young, created an almost carnival event. Our Diva, Achinoam Nini wonderful as ever and Yael Deckelbaum who is literally going around the world with the SONG of THE MOTHER’s, joining together with other performers and the adoring crowd, spreading love and hope for a better future for us all.

Tonight in a hall packed to capacity in the beautiful Eretz Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv many younger people were in the audience to learn about the meaning and consequences of the Geneva Initiative.

The panel consisted of Michal Rabin, Meretz, Caroline Glick, Yemin Hahadash and Stav Shafir, Avodah. The facilitator was Yael Pattir of the Geneva Initiative and there was an empty place, which a well known Likud MK was supposed to have filled?

I suppose that one should have felt sorry for Caroline Glick who was literally between two adversaries. Before her leap into politics, Caroline Glick was the Editor in  Chief of The Jerusalem Post. The JP as its affectionately known is Israel’s widest read English Language newspaper although maybe now THE TIMES OF ISRAEL may have overtaken it? I  have to say that I knew every Editor with the exception of the first one, the late Gershon Agron. I knew it in the days when it was left-leaning but very reliable, and even objective.

Through the time when with the late Chaim Herzog we fought to change THE ELECTORAL SYSTEM through my years as Director of BIPAC  arranging visits of UK journalists to Israel, through the Metuna Road Safety campaigns and more.

For many years I was a prolific writer of Letters to the Editor and as it moved further to the right I was in fact, the only one who didn’t conform to what the readership expected. I think that the management quite liked that. I was also close to the present Editor in Chief.

Added to which I was involved in other public activities and relied heavily on the JP to promote or publicize the same. As the English speaking community, the Anglos as we are called is fairly small, we all depended largely on the JP for information and opinions as well as news. My other connection to Steve Linde the present Editor was our mutual fight in the 80’s for Israel Television to provide a daily newscast in English. Not necessarily for locals but more importantly for overseas visitors, journalists, and diplomats who were all watching Jordan News at Ten,  the only source of televised news in English.

When I finally cancelled my subscription I was called by someone on the paper and asked what was my reason for doing so?  I stated that I did not identify with their readership and could not tolerate the readers’ letters which demonstrated that those who came from similar backgrounds to mine, had forgotten their early beginnings in democratic countries. The member of staff wasted no time in letting it be known that I had cited the Editor who, on the basis of our former friendship and association, called me to ask if that was true. I was disgusted.

When Caroline Glick joined the newspaper she became the darling of the Anglo community She is a great writer her English excellent but from the word go, proved to be such a blinkered supporter of Benyamin Netanyahu that I questioned their relationship.

So tonight, sitting between,  two erudite and articulate women from Meretz and Avodah, she had to defend her side vociferously.  As a resident of Efrat in Gush Etzion where incidentally I have extremely close friends and visit frequently, she made the case for the annexation of the WEST BANK. She also used the “religious card” which caused ire amongst the audience and could not defend herself when attacked over the inclusion of, far right Kahanists in Bibi’s future coalition. Depending of course if he wins the next election.  An emotional case was made for creating peace by the other speakers sighting also the exposure of our young men and women to painful, aggressive and demeaning actions in order to “safeguard” as it were, the Jewish people who reside in the settlements.

Again on this night, there were many young people in the audience, so as everyone over the age of 18 has a vote, perhaps there will be surprises yet.

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.