Monday, October 15, 2012


Some of the good news behind the news which we do not hear about in the media.
(An unabridged transcript of the talk to NCJWA Vic., Melbourne, 15/10/2012.)
The transition in perceptions about Israel for us, the older generation in the Jewish community in the Diaspora.

(Ref. AJN 12/10/12 Rabbi Kennard’s article p.25.”Poor Cousin no more” re Israel.) But what he actually means is that there are lots of poor cousins there,- but ISRAEL is not a charity,- nor is Israel The Charity which those who support the charities IN Israel seem to make out that it is. Thank God this not the case!


I have had a longstanding interest in what I perceive as a widening gap in understanding between the Israeli people and we, the Diaspora Jews in our Jewish community, in the way we see Israel today and the way Israelis see us and how they see themselves. I can’t speak for other communities because I am more aware of us here in Melbourne and in Australia.
It occurred to me when listening to the questions being asked by a capacity audience in BW soon after returning from Israel that this is like the gap  between parents and their first born child whom they suddenly see for the first time as ‘hey, he/she has actually grown up already!’

This is how I feel about Israel today,- it is saying to us, but do we really want to hear it? Looking at the State of Israel in 2012 it is telling us –“hey fellow Jews, we have grown up,- we’ve made it! We are no longer your poor nebich kid”. Stop treating us as such!
And we should say thank God,- and amen for that!

After all, my and our parents’ generation anxiously waited for that longed for re-birth, then watched over a very difficult birth, some of you here like Ernie even fought to see this ‘birth’ in ’48, then we worried over its survival and nurtured it during its early formative years of total dependency during its ‘babyhood’ in the 50s, 60s and 70s! We watched it grow, develop its infrastructures and with the proverbial ploughshare in one hand and a gun in the other it managed to overcome and survive the wars which took place every decade or so. And like parents we resent unfair criticisms of our baby!
We cheered its successes and wept over its difficulties from a distance in the Diaspora and they knew they could rely on us morally and looked to us practically for the financial support to build it up, to help to provide the infrastructures while its still modest revenues were eaten up by the defence budget. We mourned the loss of thousands of their youngest and brightest in successive wars and marvelled at the resilience of those who stoically remained to keep building up their country until today, when contrary to the rest of the Western world’s economic woes, it is actually doing OK . Though their PM Nethanyahu is foreshadowing elections and at the same time preparing Israelis for tightening their belts with an austerity budget. After all, if the European and American customers are having troubles, how can Israeli businesses survive? (And for that matter,- isn’t it being predicted much the same for us in Oz as well?)

Its economic success however to date is so much so that to quote one author, who contrasted Japan’s economic decline with Israel’s economic ‘Golden Age’ in The Japan Times earlier this year, in an article titled “Japanese must tap their inner Israeli”, he noted that this is happening in the face of the global economic meltdown. Neither country he wrote  has any natural resources, but Israel ‘punches far above its weight’ and like Japan, it lives or dies on its wits alone.
And that we must realize is very true.
.Japanese must tap their 'inner Israeli'
But here in our own community we listen to whatever the media will beat up and like good parents we worry for the country we still think of  as our original young child, instead of now a partner in the Jewish experience, as my friend Micha told me the other day,-forgetting that there are now  about 3 generations further along and these new generations who have taken over, are as clever if not far cleverer than we, the contemporaries of that first generation. We have to accept that they are ready to make their own way in life according to the principles their  PM Nethanyahu just last month espoused at the UN:
“Israeli progress is based on Jewish tradition, like that of the US and free world: liberty, equality, human rights, human progress, love of life and peace.”

But just as we never give up supporting our kids in whichever way we can, so of course we’ll never give up supporting the Israelis, those cousins who are poor and needy,- in whichever way they need our support.And their welfare ‘charities’ certainly still need our support, in just the same way ours need money here.
But what has bothered me sometimes is that I felt a lack of reciprocity,- some ‘affection’ for our communities, respect, something to show appreciation for all our past efforts,- anything,- but this in my opinion has often been in short supply from the Israeli people. I don’t mean from the government, but from the people who seemed to think of themselves sometimes a bit apart from us,- the Jewish people in the diaspora!

 My conclusion now is that they are proud of their country and don’t want to feel beholden to anyone. They are independent people, not our poor cousins anymore! And this is why we must change our tune when organizations fundraise for the various institutions and needy causes IN Israel. It is not Israel which is a charity,- nor is Israel our charity!
And we must not offend her citizens in making them feel that way about their country!

There is much that is happening in Israel today which we don’t appreciate enough in the Diaspora. It is a vibrant young nation which manages to reinvigorate and adapt itself in spite of all its problems and again, this is what I felt I wanted to share with you and with as many of our local community and friends as possible.
This is also what Rabbi Kennard is saying in his article. But when Yossi Beilin told the Diaspora 20 years ago that Israel does not need their money,- better keep it in our communities to educate our children to retain their identity, he was hounded down for it because the fundraisers were furious.- It was perhaps too early for us all to understand where he was coming from and what our communities felt.

Today, all our projects in Israel still need our help,- but we need to stop saying “Israel” needs it. We don’t say we fundraise for Australia when we support our local institutions, so why say it about Israel, as though it is for the starving masses of an African country? They want Israel promoted as an exciting tourist destination,- a country to invest into,- not a country filled with our poor cousins!
 Let’s face it,- e.g. I remember how we used to bring to our families in the 60s and 70s, to our aunts, uncles, cousins,- all the latest electronic gadgets from Hong Kong or Bangkok wherever we stopped on the way, things which they either didn’t yet have or could not afford?

Today ? They are the ones who innovate and sell all the high-tech components for Asia to manufacture their i-phones, i-pads etc. not to mention all the security programs that all companies and governments need nowadays. The list goes on and on in every area where high-tech and know-how is needed and used,- from the health industry to the aviation and defence industries, agriculture, water and reusable energy, etc., etc. America need Israel, the only ally in the ME that the West can rely on,- so it has to help with the defence budget,- Israel does not ask for US soldiers to defend it and die for it. It handles everything itself.
But what about SECURITY on the ground when visiting the country?

Some people we met on previous trips, or even now, looked at us in some surprise when we said to them that we are going to, or have come from Israel on our journeys across the world. Some have even asked me “ isn’t it dangerous”? I have a feeling that many people who only know about Israel from the media, think of it as a cross between lawless Somalia and Afghanistan or as dangerous as Syria, with Jerusalem somewhere between Mogadishu and Kabul! This is just one aspect of the impression about Israel among those who have never actually experienced the country. Even among our own community, this is the only aspect that seems to come across , i.e.It’s not only a poor country but also a dangerous place to visit let alone to live in. Some places are,- e.g. Sderot,- but people still do live there! Sure there are shelters inside the buildings as well as outside because the protection of the citizens’ lives is the no.1 priority of the government! All buildings in the country are so equipped.
We slept in the ‘secure room’ at our cousins’ homes,- they double up as the spare bedrooms.

What about their internal problems?

-Perhaps because we care so much or are so worried about our kinfolk there,- we tend to concentrate too much about their internal problems which mostly affect minority groups, rather than to praise and enjoy Israel’s real achievements for the majority in all the spheres of a democratic Western-style  democracy. It is far from the dangerous ‘failed States’ I mentioned above!
Israel has as many ethnic groups and is as multicultural as Australia. They come from all parts of the world, there is as much of a religious divide within Judaism as there is among the various Christian and Moslem denominations and sects from the most zealous mediaeval-style ones to the modern liberal secular ones. There are status of women problems among the haredim,- the ultra-religious sect, plus the trouble with the zealots who don’t believe in a Jewish State at all unless the Messiah first comes down from somewhere up there; not to mention all the internal political rivalries and bickering that goes on among the coalition Parties in and out of government,- the conflicting views and opinions are endless.
But still,- everyone just gets on with their lives and living,- for better or worse like here! The good and the not-so good in society exists there too.

But no one complained to us about anything. And if I asked,- they shrugged their shoulders and brushed me off,- “it is not your, not even our business! They will fix it,- eventually!”
And today I am convinced that they will! With or without the longed for peace with their neighbours.

Israeli people know how to help themselves. They don’t put up with anything that they don’t like! It’s the same as in any Western democracy because we the people are empowered through education to want, expect and demand the best from our governments,- or out they go!

What about co-existence among the multicultural groups?

Since the new generations of Israelis have been born and grown up there they don’t seem to have the same ‘angst’ that their parents and grandparents had,- but which we here still have for them. My Haifa cousin’s daughter and family live in the middle of Jaffa among Moslem neighbours and the sound of the call to prayer waking them up every morning! In the Grand Court Hotel,- in East Jerusalem, in between the Olive and Leonardo Hotels where we were booked in by Zaava my Haifa cousin,- at breakfast the first morning we were fascinated to watch the Orthodox C hristian Priest in all his regalia with his entourage obviously on a pilgrimage to their holy sites,- sitting in one corner of the huge restaurant. Then arrives a Chassidic Rabbi with what looked like his very large family of kids of all ages; everywhere else were tourists from all over the world, and the staff were obviously Israeli Arabs and Jews. They may have been Christian Arabs or Moslem, I have no idea,- but the food was obviously Kosher, Shabbat and possibly Sunday also,-was observed (because we had a very basic buffet on Sunday when we returned there from the weekend at the Dead Sea! (Very disappointing after enjoying the fabulous and typical Israeli breakfast there previously!)

Just compare the changes that Melbourne, let alone Australia has undergone in the last 50 years or so. (See the Age supplements) Well,- so did Israel,- except that we don’t always look at it in this way or appreciate the transformation from the days when our parents’ and grandparents’ generation was building it up, to today, 2-3 generations later. Not to mention those who still kept coming after the post-ww2 era of Holocaust survivors and the ‘magic carpet’ immigrants rescued from the Arab countries. The ones in the ‘80s and ‘90s rescued from Ethiopia at one end and from Russia at the other end of the world and from totally opposite cultural and socio-economic environments and who had to be absorbed, until today when they are contributing to the state in every sphere,-on an equal footing to everyone else.

And who is still going to come to Israel today? it is the Jews from what I call Eurabia. Because of the added imported Islamic anti-Semitism in Europe, we are seeing once more Jews having to flee for their lives as in the 30s. The last 870 Jews just left Norway! We are known as the ‘canaries in the coal mine’,-so Europe had better watch out!
But there is another group,- an unwanted one similar to the ones coming here,- the illegals from Nth. Africa! Did you see the CNN programs re what the poor Eritreans,  Sudanese and other Africans go through trying to get into Israel  across the Sinai? The torturing and murder, rapes, organ-‘harvesting’ and how much money is extorted from their relatives abroad by the Bedouin traffickers? All because they want to come into Israel for safety and better lives.Not into Egypt which they have to cross, a fellow Islamic country but into Israel. They are mostly of the Moslem faith, so why do they risk everything to come to the Jewish State? I did not realize how many have made it into Israel,- over 60,000 are living there in a country the size smaller than our Victorian State. We worry here about a few thousand boat people,- yet they have 60,000 or more, who live freely mostly, with the government  only now trying to deport them back home and also try to put them into some detention centres,- much against the social-justice NGO’s will. And guess what,- one morning we noticed a sea of black- their clothes as well as their faces were dark,- a couple of thousand of these illegals were peacefully marching outside our hotel, demonstrating against being deported! It’s not exactly how the illegals are allowed to live here by freely demonstrating on our streets. They are desperate to remain in Israel, not to return to their miserable lives back home, particularly after owing huge amounts of money to the people smugglers!

It’s a world-wide problem, but Israel is not where they are escaping FROM but escaping TO,- just like to Australia!

We have to remember the million or so Israeli Arabs who live mostly quietly, working and prospering on an equal footing with the Jewish citizens. They don’t seem to rock the boat so to speak because they know how much better off they are than their fellow Palestinians outside Israel,- those who are languishing for 6 and half decades in ‘refugee camps’, living off UNWRA handouts because they are still being kept hostage by their fellow Arabs without resettling them anywhere among their quarter billion brethren in the neighbouring Moslem countries. Why is the pressure only on Israel instead of on their fellow Arab states to resettle the refugees the way Australia and all the West tries to do,- let alone Israel itself who had to absorb an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands? It is an exchange of population after all! Does anybody push that point of view in the media?

It must be the oil in those nations,- but here is some more good news: there is plenty of gas and presumably oil now that has been found in Israeli waters off shore. The oil-weapon is now being spoken of with respect to Israel as well! The big nations and their oil companies are circling Israel re the future exploration and development rights.
More reason to be jealous of that tiny nation which shows up the inadequacy of her neighbouring states!

Now,- if you think that I am being unduly optimistic , because of what we read in the papers about a possible,-or even probable war with Iran and/or Hetzbollah, one just has to look at the poll results re how the Israelis themselves feel about those issues and you will quickly see that what bothers us here in the diaspora does not loom so large in the Israelis’ psyche.
(Quoted  & read from Jerusalem Post article 26/8: "More than 3/4 Israeli public are optimistic about their country's future despite security, socio-economic and other serious challenges that lie ahead, the Israel Democracy Institute found in its annual survey, the Democracy Index published this week" 90% of both Arabs and Jews responded that they want to live in Israel long term!)

PHOTOS. See web albums Miriam m.

So what new developments did we learn while in Israel?
1.Many have written-off the kibbutzim as finished. But did you know that  kibbutzim across the country are slowly being reinvigorated by returning young families?

The JNF/KKL arranged a driver to show us what is happening in the Negev and the ANZAC Trail, Golda Park (- to Nahal Oz)
 (SEE: Battle of Be'er Sheva: The "last great cavalry charge"
On a Wednesday afternoon,(October 2012) about 40 members of the Australian Light Horse Association will mount horses and re-enact what has been dubbed 'the last great cavalry charge in history.)A driver cum guide was coordinated from here and at my request also with the cooperation of the Zahal Beit Halochem people so that we could visit the new rehabilitation Centre in Beer Sheva at the same time . I wanted to see the Timna Park which is the Australian project, part of the ANZAC Trail reconstruction in the Negev, with our NCJWA sponsored playground.

En route we were explained how the water treatment of sewerage all the way from Tel Aviv is being recycled to irrigate the region. The water is pure enough to drink, but is not used for that,- they have 2 pipes and taps for household use. We also drove to Nahal Oz to show us how a kibbutz can live on the border with Gaza.

My cousin accompanied us,- she usually does because like any of us here,- we don’t know what is really happening in our own countries, unless someone shows and explains it to us. Usually to tourists!We looked around the kibbutz,- across to the border and the houses in the Gaza village beyond,- but we saw no soldiers or any sign of an army. You’ll see the photos shortly.
However there was a tall communication tower,& a blimp in the sky apparently full of very complex equipment. Then we saw some mounds of earth dotted around,- apparently they are automatic gun emplacements. Obviously someone sits somewhere at a distance watching over the whole area, ready to activate whatever is necessary. These are today’s methods of securing the borders! Armies depend more on quality than quantity.

Last week a drone entered Israeli air-space and according to Debka file on the web, the Israelis and whoever launched it were trying to wrench control of it, i.e. it was a battle in cyber-space,-back and forth until the air force finally destroyed it in an uninhabited area in the Negev. US is trying to find out what the Iranians learned from its downed drone

2. Kibbutzim and the new-style revivals.
The head of this kibbutz gave us a brief introduction about the kibbutz, where he and his family have lived since the 1960s,- they are originally from South Africa. The place looked deserted, as you can see from the photos. He told us that the young people have moved away from the kibbutzim, which is what we know happened everywhere, but then he said something that at the time seemed unbelievable.

Namely that the younger members and their families are going to be encouraged to return and take advantage of all the facilities and infrastructures, while they will get the land free to build for themselves new housing. With transport by rail and road in the vicinity, plus schools and hospitals also not far away, the young families he said are beginning to return to their parents’ old kibbutzim. I likened it to a “country club” style living, but for  young families,- not the old retirees like us!Looking around where this kibbutz is situated, we wondered if it will ever happen there but he seemed to be positive.
Then we found out that it is actually already happening in other kibbutzim. We saw it near Gedera where Ernie’s cousin’s son and his new family moved into a nearby kibbutz under the conditions previously explained to us at Nahal Oz. As Eran told us, he gathered 17 families from among his friends, they approached the kibbutz and lo and behold they are all living there in their own houses, with their children enjoying freedom and fresh air in a lovely rural environment. Transport is very convenient to all the main cities on super-highways, plus buses and trains from there to schools and work.

It seems to me that when they had the mass ‘occupy Tel Aviv’ demonstrations by the younger generation last year because of the economic divide in the cities, this became one way of overcoming this cost-of-living problem which the younger generation was facing!

Now I want to ask you. Did they wait for us to give them a hand-out? God forbid,- they are taking the matter into their own hands and the government will have to listen to them. In fact, apparently quite a few younger political activists have arisen out of those demonstrations across the country, who will eventually be encouraged to stand for election to the Knesset. Similarly for the Religious Progressive Movement who will endeavour now to make sure that on the Party tickets at the next elections, there will be also Progressives on each list,- not only those that toe the establishment’s  Orthodox political line!

A changing of the guard in leadership, from the old-timers to the younger generation is inevitable that it will have to evolve and hopefully it will happen sooner than later

2. What about the connection between Israel and here in Oz in the education field, particularly for the disadvantaged ,- aborigines and new non-English speaking arrivals? Noel Pearson  has been in discussion with Jerusalem’s- Feuerstein Institute for his successful education initiatives on Cape York Peninsula for his aboriginal community. He was reported to be using some American books but I suspect that they originated in Israel. Also here in Victoria, now as we speak, 220 Victorian schools will be employing the Feuerstein methods of teaching,- probably for special-needs students. The training of the teachers has already begun. I shall tell you more about my 90-year old cousin, Professor Reuven Feuerstein.

3.We attended the Hebrew University’s conferring of Honorary Doctorates to a number of distinguished international personages, including Harry Hoffman OAM of Perth, plus the awarding of 2 prizes: the Samuel Rothberg Prize for Education to Nobel Prize nominee  Professor Reuven Feuerstein and the Solomon Bublick Prize to Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, the Bedouin young woman who  formed a chain of women’s organizations among the Bedouin Community.

I and NCJWA via President Di Hirsh stood up for the Jewish religious women last year when the haredim chose to put down their women, - e.g. sit in the back of the bus they were told, boys spitting on girls, deleting female figures from bill-boards and similar lovely acts.

That Bedouin prize winner is the 5th daughter out of 13 children in her family, all of whom supported her in her drive for a better deal for Bedouin women. She was being honoured in front of her family and a world-wide array of distinguished Hon. Drs.
If she made it, do we really think the other group of devout Jewish Israeli women won’t?

4. Now how about that marvellous experience of opera Carmen at Masada .
About  5-7 thousand people from all over Israel attending each night’s performance of ‘Carmen’,- the annual opera event in June at the foot of Masada in the desert, over 5 nights in a most magnificent setting and with an international production and opera stars. No worries about security, you might ask? I was worried, I must admit, but when I looked around and saw that everyone was totally unconcerned, I forgot about it. I expected to see a tank or two, helicopters flying above and lots of soldiers,- I did not see anyone or anything of that nature. I also was afraid it will be a bit of a ‘balagan’ with so many turning up in the middle of the desert,- but it was a fabulous organization. We were sat down in an artificial courtyard garden with food and bar stands before entry to the stands and our seats. Then we were out and bussed back in no time at all. On returning to our hotel at 2am via the garden entrance, there were tables laden with food, drinks of all kinds,- complimentary from the hotel!

Hardly the 'balagan' I expected!

5. We returned to Jerusalem. I had read about the annual Festival of Lights there also in June. But again, I did not expect to see the thousands of Jerusalemites in all manner of religious and ethnic garb, happily wandering throughout the dark evenings in the streets of the old city admiring light-pictures on walls and buskers,- without any visible soldiers guarding anybody. It was absolutely amazing!

6. But do we read about these fabulous quality of life events as e.g. Tel Aviv’s ‘White Nights’ Festival and the protesters dubbing it the ‘Black Night’ festival, because they preferred money to be spent otherwise than on an arts festival? We saw that a concert was advertised in the Rabin Square. We’d been to such a concert on Independence Day a couple of years ago and it was a great atmosphere, though I felt sorry for the residents in the surrounding apartment blocks who had to put up with laser lighting and loud music for a couple of hours. So we walked over from our hotel and when we got to the square there seemed to be nothing much going on. Some people walked around the perimeter where there were some tables with things on display. We wandered over to see that there were a lot of ear-phones which seemed to be for hire. We asked what they were for, only to be told that this is the concert! In other words, -it was a concert in cyberspace! No noise to worry the neighbourhood!

7. One should see the spectacularly renovated Israel Museum in Jerusalem and the Israeli Museum of Art in Tel Aviv? The treasures in those Museums is unbelievable! What about the renovations and restorations of Tel Aviv’s old port at one end and the old Yaffa railway station at the other end of that long and magnificent Tel Aviv foreshore promenade, converted into modern-day arts precincts with restaurants, boutiques and art galleries and full of people freely strolling in the evenings and on Shabbat.
Does that sound like a whole nation living in poverty and under threats and in fear of anything?

Who has seen or walked along the now beautiful Haifa foreshore that has miles and miles of newly landscaped beachfront  promenades with restaurants, playgrounds, walking and running paths where we happily strolled in the warm evenings.
Or seen the long tunnel through the Carmel mountains, with fly-over roads accessing it  from all directions North to South making it look more like Los Angeles rather than quiet Haifa in little Israel.

And so much more that is going on there now and all the time that it left us in awe!

All that while the Hamas rockets fly over from Gaza to provoke an Israeli response to kill their own people! While the Israeli Government ensures that its population will be as safe as humanly possible when dealing with those unrelenting threats from its neighbouring Arab countries, the extremists want to have their people killed so that the world will focus on them as the victims.
L & G,-members, friends,- as I said before, just as we need to support here all the appeals, e.g. the Red Cross, the Salvos red shield appeal, the hospitals, the various cancer research programs, etc., etc.,- so Israel needs our support i.e. the support from diaspora Jewry to improve and fund similar social welfare projects. Friends of each of the institutions, from around the world are the ones who passionately ensure that the various institutions of learning, culture, health and development will keep up the best standard possible for the citizens of Israel. Of course we all have favourites and give partisan support for the projects we care about.

That is all that the Israelis expect of us. The days when they looked upon us all from the Western countries as being the rich cousins who brought alms for the poor are gone, Thank God.

10. ILAN is just such a project that we of the NCJWA have been supporting as our project for as long as I have been involved,- i.e. at least 40years! We started with the building of kindergartens, particularly in Tel Aviv for the children born with motor disabilities, mainly cerebral palsy. Then we had to help with building sheltered workshops as they grew older, followed by independent living quarters,- it never ends of course looking after the disabled young and old. Today their kindergarten looks after children will all kinds of disabilities. I asked the Chairwoman, Hana Laor whether there is an increase in the percentage incidence of such disabilities and she said yes,- the reason being that the medical advances in neonatal care allows earlier premature babies to survive. But the downside is, according to her, that many more of these survivors do not develop normally. Apparently they see them there in their centres which now takes in such children.
The Sonja Krawat room which was described in the current Council Bulletin, called a Snoezelen room, is such a therapeutic multi-sensory room which was needed to help and treat the little ones who have various fragile bone problems, or tactile and/or nervous disorders.

I was delighted to be there when Ruth, her husband ‘Huey’ of TV fame, her daughter and many of Sonja’s family could be there to see that room dedicated to her memory for all the work that she has done so passionately for these children over a number of years. There was a very successful concert held once again for them yesterday and congratulations goes to all who were involved.

In conclusion
It is lovely to go on a Mission with a group, stay in the luxury 5-star hotels, travel around in an organised manner and say,- it was nice, it was very interesting,- but it’s nice to go home to our peaceful country in far-off Australia. Once upon a time I felt guily about that whenever I left our family over there fearing and not knowing what tomorrow may bring for them. And that fear of course thanks to Ahmadinejad is still there because he is determined to finish off what Hitler started. He says it openly! Israel is the only thing that they can use to distract the Muslims from their own problems.

But at least in other respects,we can relax and say we certainly no longer have to feel sorry for all the poor, poverty-stricken Israelis as we used to feel in the past. Poverty obviously still exists, especially among the older generation of Holocaust survivors who are still alive today! Plus there are also all the needy young children and women from broken homes. We of NCJWA need to support a domestic violence shelter in Haifa. WIZO needs to support the excellent work that WIZO does for women and children. I always explain to Israelis that NCJW here is doing what WIZO does in Israel,- plus we support other projects in Israel.

In our experience, the El Al planes are still carrying loads of foreign workers from Phillipines and Thailand. In addition a substantial middle class has developed, particularly in the last decade or so as well as some who made loads of money from those successful start-up IT companies.

Among all the families we come in contact with, they sometimes like to boast how much better off they are than we are because of where they are in the Northern hemisphere near the centre of civilization! In fact as Rabbi Kennard said in his article, the way it is going for us in the Diaspora, Israel will turn around and support our communities.

They travel cheaply at the drop of a hat to many countries in Europe on holidays, or to America,- even for weekend shopping trips,=or to spas, one younger cousin went for a few days to take her soldier daughter to a Sting Concert in Budapest with a little shopping in between; another took his son for a few days to Berlin prior to entering the army just to teach him a little more about its history towards the Jews. My cousin’s Batmitzvah present for each of her half-dozen grand daughters is always a week’s holiday in Paris.

And the ‘piece de resistance’: an old cousin of my mother’s in Jerusalem has a daughter and family who live in Ofra (W Bank). They are ‘Modern Orthodox Zionists’ and they joined us for dinner on Mamilla Street to walk through the lit-up Old City afterwards.

 Our friends, Michael & Esther who are here tonight  whom we were going to meet in Jerusalem the following evening, were travelling to Santorini before flying home. As we were talking to our family about it, ‘Oh, they said,- we are going there too for the weekend with friends. We are flying over in our  planes,- a group of us.”

I am talking about a modern-Orthodox family, she,- a former nurse at Hadassa Hospital with children who fought and then they lost a son in one of the wars in Lebanon. Her brother’s family is even more Orthodox than his sister& has 5 children. His wife, formerly American is a full-time biochemist with a PhD working on an important targeted-delivery system for anti-cancer drugs.
I cannot believe that anyone still thinks that they are waiting for our advice re how to lead their lives. Internally and externally they will know how to stand up for themselves and all the fanatics will end up reining in their horns,- eventually. I firmly believe that modernity and the good-life will prevail even on the haredim, though it may need some more pressure to hurry them up!
 I am personally now convinced of that as far as the various internal problems are concerned, the Israelis will overcome them in time,- in spite of the zealots who will try to stop the 21st century entering their lives!

If only the external security threats and the political situation outside the country could be as pragmatic as the internal one,  we as Israel’s collective ‘parents’ could feel confident that our ‘collective child’ is safe and has indeed grown up,- and done so responsibly to make us all proud.-‘Dafke’,- bugger the anti-Semites and all the enemies of the Jewish people. Especially that Ahmadinejad and his Ayatollahs! They are just jealous!

When we were at the graduation ceremony at the Hebrew University for Ph D graduates, the young recipients,- sometimes not so young as well,- after receiving his or her certificate and shaking the hands of their Professors, would turn around and look up to their families in the stands and wave their certificate as though saying “ look mum & dad,- I’ve made it!”

I think that Israel has made it too. Let us pray that one day soon it will be allowed to live in peace as well as in prosperity into the future.

See for yourself.



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