Five Minutes for Israel has been floundering around for the last week or so, trying to find a suitable subject for a last day of Pessach article. The choices either turned out to be preachy (can anyone outside a Yeshiva actually remember a rabbi’s sermon?); impossibly general or unrelated. Then I realised that most of the things that annoyed/interested me enough to write about were related, however tenuously, by blood! Hows this for a list? Australian travel advice; Pessach and the Arabs; Israel Haters see red; Obama’s Seder and genetics. Read on and I will explain.
Smartraveller trips up
Some of my Ossie relatives were visiting and naturally they paid a call on all their relatives. That includes the family living on Kibbutz Sa’ad, the carrot capital of Israel, just off the Gaza border.
Bad, bad, bad rellos! The Australian Government travel advisory is quite clear. Exercise a high degree of caution when visiting Israel; reconsider your decision to visit Judea and Shomron and do not travel to areas surrounding Gaza.
No wonder people, not necessarily Israel Haters, think the streets are awash with blood. Not that that is a new conception. When I made aliya, more than 30 years ago, a concerned friend wrote to me and asked if I had to carry a weapon on the way to work? I didn’t then and I don’t now.
The Aussies are not the only ones to take the wrong end of the stick. At one point of my life I was employed by a major international hi-tech company who paid a substantial amount to a security company to advice on travel safety around the world. The advice for Israel was clear. Stay away from bus and train stations. The company provided a shuttle from Tel Aviv’s Arlossorov railway station to the Atidim headquarters. Some 80% of their employees would not have come to work if they had followed the company’s advice.
Needless to say my Australian relatives survived the trip.
Israel Haters see blood
Check out the comments of almost any mass newspaper article that says anything positive about Israel. There will be plenty of responses, which paying no attention to the facts of the article or the real situation in Israel, simple accuse Israel of genocide. That apparently is enough to win, at least in their own minds, any argument.
Stop murdering the Palestinians would be a mild example of the form.
It occurred to me. They must really believe it. The irony is when they come fact-finding and see that the streets are not damp with blood, they still believe that Israel is somehow Syria.
It does raise the question whether well-meaning travel advisories play a part in this or do the Haters hate first and pick the rationale later?
Exodus and the Arabs
For the non-Pessah cognoscenti among us:
|These are the Ten Plagues which the Holy One, blessed be He, brought upon the Egyptians, namely as follows:|
|Slaying of the First-born.|
For many, Jewish and Gentile the story of the Exodus was an inspiration. The Martin Luther King quote, below, is just an example.
I want to preach this morning from the subject: “The Birth of a New Nation.” And I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together, a story that has long since been stencilled on the mental sheets of succeeding generations. It is the story of the Exodus, the story of the flight of the Hebrew people from the bondage of Egypt, through the wilderness and finally, to the Promised Land. It’s a beautiful story. I had the privilege the other night of seeing the story in movie terms in New York City, entitled the “Ten Commandments” and I came to see it in all of its beauty. The struggle of Moses, the struggle of his devoted followers as they sought to get out of Egypt. And they finally moved on to the wilderness and toward the Promised Land. This is something of the story of every people struggling for freedom. It is the first story of man’s explicit quest for freedom. And it demonstrates the stages that seem to inevitably follow the quest for freedom.
Martin Luther King, “The Birth of a New Nation,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, 7 April 1957
Still over Pessach I began to wonder. Could the Palestinians, who have so zealously appropriated Jewish history as their own, truly appropriate the Exodus story of Pessach?
Regrettably they have had some Jewish help to do this. From Chava Alberstein to J-Street† there have been creative attempts to present the Palestinians as the new Jews. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say present the Palestinians as the old Jews. The new Jews, the Israelis, take action to avoid the fate of their ancestors.
There is a problem, at least partly considered in I’m gonna sue!!!! just before Pessach. The Koran quite unambiguously retells the story of Moses (Mussa) leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt with Allah’s help and blessing. It makes the Palestinian claim that Jews have no connection to Israel difficult for Muslims and Christians to defend – although they do.
The White House
One has to wonder which version of the Pessach story has most influenced President Obama? So far no one has told me who recited the four questions. Is that product-placing for Maxwell House?
The last blood connection is bloodline. Apparently five Jewish women are responsible for all Jews from Europe. Imagine that. My brother took a DNA test (saliva not blood) and discovered much we already knew. He also discovered that the family legend of coming to Germany through Holland from Spain after 1492 is probably true. As yet the Spanish government hasn’t accepted DNA evidence for citizenship.
There’s a thought to ponder.
We hope those of you who celebrate it had a most enjoyable Pessach.
- 20 World’s Most Dangerous Vacation Destinations, Olga Kachmar, Amerikanki, undated
- English Haggadah Text with Instructional Guide, Chabad.org, timeless
- Australian Government: Travel advice for Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Smartraveller, 2 April 2014
- The Four Sons, Zeev Jabotinsky, Original in Russian, Odesskie Novosti, 17 April 1911
- Holocaust’ haggadah’s cynical illustrations still bite, Renee Ghert-Zand, The Times of Israel, 15 April 2014
Top right illustration The wicked son by Arthur Szyk from Four Sons Lodz, 1934 Watercolor and gouache on paper
† On principle Five Minutes for Israel does not provide pings and direct readers to links it considers hostile to Israel or that might be used by those hostile to Israel.