Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Far Away

Thanks so much to everyone who read the entry Back. It is difficult, I know, but not so hard as actually being detained there!
Why far away ?  I am now so far away from Israel.
It never ceases to be deeply unsettling, that feeling of being here and there simultaneously, and yet, as soon as I board the plane, the realization of the actual physical distance.
I have not been in Israel in springtime since I left, so very long ago. I always go back in the fall - Rosh Hashanah, when the countryside is brown and parched. I forgot the beautiful spring, especially this year after the winter's rains. Everything is green and lush. Every little patch of earth  is covered in flowers - in whites, oranges, reds, deep pinks, purples. To me if feels as if nature is compensating for the war of last year, and too many years past. She reminds us that there is beauty on this planet.
As always, it is so  comfortable to be with family and friends - everything familiar, and yet always different, always more ... more construction, more people, more roads...
I have not been on kibbutz for Remembrance Day since I left.  I find it very hard to put into words the feeling of being surrounded by warmth and love and belonging -  of  shared  memories, of a past that no one here in America can fathom.
And now, here I am, back with that ever constant ambivalence and dissonance. The holy trinity, Africa, Israel, America - and so it shall be.

Friday, May 8, 2015


I am back, from where? some may ask.
I went back to Israel for 3 weeks. I shall write about my visit in an upcoming blog.
What I now want to write about, most urgently, is my one day visit to Holot - a detention center somewhere in the Negev desert - a two and a half hour bus ride from Tel Aviv.
When I posted pictures from Holot on Facebook, many asked about Holot. I posted a link to a website

Please go to this site where you will read about the refugees from Sudan and Eritrea in Israel. They also have a Facebook page where you can keep up with all that is happening, including the most recent demonstrations against discrimination in Israel - this most recent round is discrimination against Ethiopian Jews.
In other words, my friends, discrimination against people of color.
This detention camp is in the middle of the desert, opposite a large military base., and a prison where some refugees have been imprisoned.  There is no protection from the brutal sun, cold desert nights, harsh sand-filled winds, even rain which has left slippery clay-like pools.
The people detained there are refugees, men who fled violence and genocide. The word in Hebrew to describe them is no longer refugees - they are known as infiltrators, obviously a loaded word.
We went down there to show solidarity, to let them know they are not forgotten, and to listen to their stories.
Nearly all citizens of Israel have fled persecution and discrimination - how is it possible that this blight is allowed in our midst?
There are valiant volunteers from Israel who do as much as they can; teaching, offering legal aid, medical services, and so on. They are not just from Israel - on our bus were NGO workers from France, the Netherlands, volunteers from America,  and various other countries.
My niece has been volunteering with these refugees for a long time now and introduced me to her friends. How these people have maintained their humanity, humor, dignity, and compassion is beyond me. Each and everyone deserves our respect and care, in whichever way we are able to offer this.
The very least we can do is be aware of their plight.