Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!



My erudite friends who sit on the the International Committee against Genocide say ”Genocide” starts with words, not gas chambers. Goebels was a past master and there are others who imitate him in this world today. Do we really think how we use them or how we let our emotions guide our speech?

Jo and Trevor from Ilfracombe a timeless fishing village in Devon, are staying with me in Tel Aviv.

They believe in Jesus, but are as close as family could be. I maintain that Jesus was a nice Jewish boy a bit of a reform rabbi and courageous social activist. They love me and my family, because we are Israelis.

The fact that I was born in their country and that we speak the same language does not necessarily enhance the connection, just facilitates the understanding.

I was pleased to discover that,although they conceivably have been to more places than I in this land that we all love, they had not visited the Rabin Centre. I had only been there  once at a “bash” put on by the British Ambassador to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Kate. That did not include a tour of the exhibition area.

We caught a bus near to my home but on arrival at the Rabin Centre stop,found we could not go through the entrance I recognised. We had no alternative but to climb a steep slope and then stairs which seemed to go on forever! A pilgrimage of sorts!

They like me are not young, but they did not grumble.

I insisted that we sit for a drink before going through and collecting our audio appliance. The café was full of young people mostly teens whom were not born when Rabin was assassinated. They were, noisy, nibbling bisli and drinking a variety of beverages.

On entering the exhibition space, moving screens plunged us into the  heart of the massive peace demonstration, on that fateful night. The palpable excitement and emotional outpouring of hope only moments before his death,was awesome.

I started to shake.

I had not been there that night but at a local social event and as I entered my flat the telephone rang ,it was my mother who had been watching TV with friends, at the retirement home, where she lived. ”She was sobbing ”Someone has killed Rabin,how could this happen,here?” “Ok Mummy” calm down I called my husband to turn on the TV.

Jo and Trevor had not been there either, they both turned pale   glistening tears filling their eyes.

We wandered around in silence as did everyone, only pausing to look across at each other, especially during Rabin’s young days when all he wanted was to help build a peaceful farming society on this land. We took in his progression, step by step to reach highest military prowess and what followed.

We had plans to go onto Shuk Hacarmel. Trevor said to me ”Do you mind if we go back home’? He kept mumbling “what a waste, what a waste, think how it could have been by now”? I nodded, but said that I needed a minute to talk to some of the youngsters.

I approached a group of spirited and pretty girls who were signing the visitors book ”How do you feel after this” I asked, one.

“He was a wonderful man it was a terrible tragedy but we won’t have peace”

“Why not”?

“Because the Arabs don’t want it.”

It was not the time to probe this lovely, intelligent and eager young person with her life ahead. I bit my tongue.

Words, I thought. How powerful! Absorbed from the media, her parents, the political leadership, the settlers?

Has she been to the territories,met or become intimate with Arab students in Israel?

Or from the territories?

I doubt it, but sadly I too feel that there will not be a two state solution, simply because we do not want it.

My friends who have had their own share of brainwashing by convincing tour leaders and hasbara specialists, also believe what that young girl does. They cannot conceive that anyone in this the land that means so much to them and which should be the symbol of peace in the Middle East, would not want to make every effort towards a two state solution.

We discussed the subject in depth before they left. They are brilliant ambassadors for Israel, active in church and local circles carrying with  pride their personal belief in the survival of the State of Israel and the goodness therein. I think I was able to convince them that Kerry really means well and that Bibi is trying hard against the odds, to get the next Nobel peace prize.

Maybe the best words they will quote from the visit to the Rabin Centre will be “Israel is no longer a people that dwells alone, and has to join the global journey toward peace, reconciliation and international cooperation.”

Yitzhak Rabin

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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