Saturday, October 27, 2018

Gaza's War of Attrition

Had the vaguest inkling of what the Israeli villages near the Gaza border went through last night. Accidentally left my mobile phone switched on and in my room over Shabbat.
From around midnight last night we were woken over and over again by the Red Alert rocket warning app going off on my phone. That's rocket alert after rocket alert through the early hours of Shabbat morning in dozens of Israeli villages and towns. Over thirty rockets fired in to Israel.
Usually I have the app configured to just ping loudly for alerts in our area (of which thank God there have been none for years) but I recently had my phone repaired and never got around to reconfiguring the app for my area only.
So over and over the screen of the phone flashed with locations around the Gaza border and the clanging alert sounded and we had a glimpse of the terrible Friday night the people living there had, running over and over to their shelters, praying that Iron Dome successfully intercepted all the launches aimed at so many Israeli civilians in their farms, villages, towns. Praying that no more fires would be started in the fields and woodland.
And we were only alerted to the rockets. Not to the thousands of rioters on the Palestinian side once again trying to storm the fence, throwing bombs and molotov cocktails over the border, launching more booby trapped balloons, destroy the fence and infiltrate Israel, part of a campaign to wear down the Israeli forces on the other side of the border, get them used to the constant riots and God Forbid one day use this is cover for even more deadly attacks. It's a war of attrition and it's been going on now for months, escalating little by little, creating a new routine which every day has the potential for deadly consequences.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Blessed Memory

Uncle just phoned in tears. He's in Tel Aviv watching Big Brother's choir perform in a gala Jewish music concert with several choirs, hazanim and well known Israeli singers.

Big Brother's choir just performed Shlomo Carlebach's beautiful "Barkhi Nafshi" right before the interval. Despite the large group of boys and the huge concert hall my uncle could make out Big Brother's clear strong voice passionately singing with every fibre of his being, and he choked up remembering his mother singing that very same song in her clear as a bell soprano.

"Are you old enough to remember that?" he asked weepily over the phone.

Am I ever. Bubbe, my maternal grandmother, didn't just sing it, she poured her entire self into it. She could stand there chopping the fish or kneading dough and for half an hour or more she could repeat over and over with a prayerful passion that must have stormed the gates of heaven "Borkhi nafshi et Hashem" to Carlebach's soulful melody.

It was one of her absolute favourite songs and she sang it often.

As I held the phone in one hand and a sort of dozing twin on my lap I happened to glance up at the newspaper on the chair next to me and a little chilll washed over me as I remembered the date. My grandmother's 16th yahrzeit falls later this week.

I can think of no better way of honouring her memory than for her grandson to sing her favourite Carlebach on the stage of Tel Aviv's Opera House in that same impassioned style of singing he inherited from the great-grandmother he never got to meet. It would please her so.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Danger: Balloons

If you are in Israel have a talk with your kids about not touching or going near balloons or kites they might see in the street, park or even floating in to their own garden.
If it isn't their own balloon they should stay away and call a grown-up.
For months now our Gaza neighbours have been sending thousands of balloons with incendiary devices or explosives attached, designed to cause fires or maim an unsuspecting person who touches the balloon or kite.
Some balloons have booby trapped toys attached to them.
Most of these have landed in nearby Israeli towns and villages just across the border from Gaza where they have sparked fires destroying large tracts of farmland, woodland and nature reserves, killing livestock and wildlife.
Some have drifted widely in to other areas of Israel, including Beer Sheva, Bat Yam, Jerusalem and ModiĆ­n.
Teach your children, your neighbours, tourists, visitors - DO NOT TOUCH balloons you come across in the street, a park, hanging on a tree, stuck on a street lamp, caught on your garden fence - wherever. Teach your kids to call a grown-up, make sure grown-ups know to call the police.