It’s 2019 and time for something new on this blog. New and old. I’ve veered away from the topics of this blog lately, but will be getting back on track with SIM Talks (hashtag: #SIMTalksWithMiriam).
Each week, on Friday, I or a guest blogger will talk about one (or more) of three topics:
The talk can take the form of a written piece or a video. It can be about anything connected to one or more of the three topics except for politics and any sort of intolerance. (I’ve never encountered intolerance on this blog, but wanted to make that clear.)
If you want to take part, please let me know via Contact me above or Twitter or Facebook.
Next week’s post is by Jess B. Moore, author of The Guilt of a Sparrow and Fierce Grace.
Let’s make 2019 a year of more understanding, empathy and compassion. Different ≠ Wrong.
I haven’t been completely quiet about recent events on the border between Israel and Gaza. On Facebook, I shared several opinions and articles I agreed with. I even started making my posts public. It’s time people knew the truth; it’s important, because ignorant people are making things worse.
This British Jew changed his mind. One of the things that helped him was when he realised, “Over 80 percent of the people who were killed while trying to breach the border were members of terrorist organisations whose direct aim is to bring death and suffering into Israel.”
This Israeli was there, at the border. “The IDF employs many creative means of reducing friction with Gazans and uses numerous methods, most of which are not made public, to prevent them from reaching the fence.”
I think it must be very hard for anyone living in the UK (amongst other countries) not to be influenced by the images and voices on the TV. That’s why I post the other side sometimes, although I don’t know if anyone listens to it.
The people who condemn Israel for defending itself in the only way possible are perpetuating these awful scenes. A strategy that works will be repeated.
I used to think we could ignore people whose opinions are based on lies. But we can’t, because those opinions create the facts.
Here’s another fact that people don’t realise. As I go about my ordinary life in Jerusalem, where I live, or in other parts of the country, I see Arabs – in the streets, in cafés, in hospitals, on public transport, everywhere. Last week I attended my son’s graduation ceremony at Israel’s Open University. Many of the graduates and families were Israeli Arabs. There is more to life than politics.
So my second is odd and half my first (no prizes for working that one out) and Ailsa Abraham created this delightful banner for me. This is how it came about:
Eleven days ago, Ailsa held an online Crone Party (as you do when it’s the day before your birthday). I didn’t know quite what to expect from it, but I came prepared…
… and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Not only that, but I won a prize for the best costume (what costume?) from the Crone Queen herself: one of her books or artwork for my blog. As I’d read both of Ailsa’s excellent novels, I plumped for the artwork and got the banner at the top of this post. Isn’t it brilliant?
It never ceases to amaze me that I know so many people with birthdays in August. Growing up, I was always the only one in my class and consequently (because of the cut-off date in the UK) the youngest. This post is meant to be all happy, so I’ll move on now.
I was born into a different world. Rationing in the UK hadn’t quite gone, although I don’t remember it. TVs were in black and white, which I do remember.
What hasn’t changed? Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne. The pound sterling is still in use (although shillings and pence are long gone).
And Israel, despite most forecasts, still exists.
Author of the Day
Ailsa Abraham is one of a kind. There’s so much I could say about her, I wouldn’t know where to start. You’re better off hopping over to The Bingergread Cottage to find out more. What I can say is that Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum are well worth reading.
The day after the attack, I saw tweets blaming Jews for it. I saw tweets blaming Israel for it. After voicing my response to no one but myself,
No, Mr Israel-hater. The fact that Israel hasn’t had an attack on that scale is not an indication that Israel caused the Nice attack. Firstly, Israel has more attacks than you know about because the so-called impartial media chooses not to mention them. And secondly, Israel has better security in place than France. The terrorists would love to damage Israel in that way.
I tried to ignore those.
I saw Theresa May, the brand new UK Prime Minister said she was “shocked and concerned” about the attack. Someone suggested “concerned” was too woolly a word and that others would think even “horrified” was not strong enough. I agreed with that and also wondered about the word “shocked.” It carries with it a sense of surprise and, unfortunately, I don’t feel at all surprised. France has suffered a number of horrific, devastating attacks and there’s no reason why these attacks won’t continue. Nothing has changed that might facilitate an end to the trend.
But I do feel extremely sorry that this has happened yet again. I feel sorry for the families of the dead, for the injured and for all peaceful citizens of France and of the world.
Terrorism is an enormous problem everywhere. There are ways of trying to curb it. Doing nothing isn’t one of them.
…writing helps us cope with our ‘inside world’ in a therapeutic way. It allows us to explore our innermost feelings, fears hopes etc, in a safe environment, safe because we can stop writing at any time we want.
Sometimes internal and external worlds blend, like knitting, and writing can help with the unravelling.
Some time ago, readers of my blog asked me to write about every day life in Israel – about ordinary life that doesn’t make its way to your newspapers. I created a new category and called it, “Everyday life in Israel.” I had no intention of ever writing about politics or to take sides in any conflict. There are plenty of blogs that do that. They are written by people who are much more knowledgeable than I and hold much stronger views.
That said, the very fact that I live here, and chose to live here, says something about my opinions. I’m always amazed at the surprise shown in the media at the fact that general opinion in Israel is so much at odds with general opinion around the world. The reasons for that are clear to me.
We’re fighting for survival. Ever since the State of Israel was created in 1948, we have fought those trying to destroy us. We continue to do that now no less than previously. Yes, the means we have to protect ourselves have increased over the years, but so have those of all the other sides. I realise the rest of the world doesn’t see this as a fight for survival, but we who live here do, and that makes us think in a different way.
And we know the media lies. We have husbands and sons who serve in the army, who risk their lives to protect us, who risk their lives in an attempt to protect the lives of the citizens caught up in the place – Gaza – that has become such a mess. Clearly the thoughts and opinions coming from this knowledge will be different from those who believe those reports in the media.
So what is life like in a time of war/conflict? I can’t tell you what it’s like for those living in the south of the country where there are constant rocket attacks. I can’t tell you what it’s like for people who have to carry sleeping babies out to relative safety in fifteen seconds, although I do remember a previous war when we did have babies. I can’t tell you what it’s like to lose a son or husband or other family member. I can only tell you what it’s like for me, in one of the safest parts of the country.
I went to folk dancing twice this week in two different places and run by two different people. In the first, we danced to the usual songs but the atmosphere was not as usual. During a break, I sat with a group of people and the conversation was all about the situation. Did we know about the tunnels? How much did we know? Did we know about the mega-attack planned for the eve of the New Year holiday? And someone mentioned something I remember, too. During the ’80s, people who lived in Ashkelon often used to visit nearby Gaza City. They especially liked to buy the furniture sold there. I remember going there too, once, along with friends who lived in Ashkelon. No one felt afraid of going there. Times change.
At the other folk dancing group, the instructor managed to create a lighter mood. I welcomed those few hours when my mind didn’t dwell so much on all this.
Wars and conflicts have changed for me over the years. In the past, we watched the news in the evenings and went to work during the day, where we naturally discussed what was happening but otherwise got on with work.
Now I’m at home, and now there’s social media. I see a lot more of what’s being said around the world and a lot of what I see makes me sad. I’ve often been upset by being misunderstood (which happens often) and I’m similarly upset when my country is misunderstood.
I’ve never written a story that involves this conflict. My romance, Neither Here Nor There, doesn’t mention it. I’ve always thought I wanted to keep away from it, but now I’m not so sure. Anyway, I’ve exposed a bit of my inner world here. It’s not everyday life in Israel, but everyday life in Israel in times of war.
There’s plenty more that I could say and probably some that I wouldn’t say. I’m not about to give out my phone number, for instance, or talk about those closest to me. If you want to ask anything, please do. If you want to pick a fight with me, please don’t. This is not the place for it. You can write your own blog post. You can comment elsewhere. Attacks here will be deleted.
I read an interesting blog post today. It was written by Gila Green, a published writer of English living in Israel. She poses the question of whether it’s wise for Israeli writers to reveal their address, because doing so would give them even less of a chance of being accepted for publication.
The question reminds me of an argument that arose in the group therapy course I took a few years ago. Some people insisted that social anxiety should be hidden while others preferred to reveal it. I noticed that those who advocated hiding it were better able to; they were the ones who appeared more “normal.”
So there’s no single answer to the question of whether to hide social anxiety. It depends on the individual and what suits them best.
Just as I’m not able to successfully hide my social anxiety, I don’t think I could hide my address. It’s part of who I am. I might not bring it up straight away in a correspondence, but I wouldn’t pretend to live elsewhere.
And, as Gila says, place is an important aspect of a story. Sometimes it’s described as another character. I wouldn’t want to lose that part of my writing, because it would be like losing a part of me.
However, other writers will disagree with this and that’s their prerogative. They must do what suits them best.
This was one of the rhymes I used to recite to my children:
Whether the weather be fine Or whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold Or whether the weather be hot, We’ll weather the weather Whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not.
So what did those little green messages mean in my posts this past week? And how dare I be only partly present for the last week of the A-Z Challenge?
Well, sorry about that, but it just worked out that D and I spent the week in Hong Kong and we loved every minute of it.
I will write more about this experience, but I’ll start with the weather. We left Jerusalem in unseasonably cold and wet weather and returned to typically hot summer weather. We missed Lag B’Omer, the bonfire-lighting festival, but as our children are now grown up we wouldn’t have participated anyway. Most of the country did, of course, and unfortunately, due to hot weather and strong winds, several fires got out of hand.
Hong Kong, as expected, was hot and humid, although the evenings were quite cool. At the end of our first day, the heavens opened for one of the famous thunderstorms. Fortunately we were just about to exit from an underground station. We waited until the rain subsided and then hurried into a shopping centre. The next day, rain was intermittent, but after that there was no rain to speak of until we were safely back at Hong Kong airport, where we watched the downpour through a glass wall and through a window of the plane.
So we were lucky with the weather, especially considering what we did. Can you guess what that was? I’ll tell you about it tomorrow or the next day. And I haven’t forgotten my A-Z summary post.
This problem is at least as old as the state. Successive governments have turned a blind eye to it and let it mushroom, giving in to demands of the ultra-orthodox in return for support in other areas.
Why is it hard for me to admit that Israel is less than perfect? After all, no country is perfect. Why should Israel be any different? Because, when you feel the world is against you and believes all the lies that are bandied about, you want to counteract that with the good things, of which there are many.