After almost a month away - if you include the whole week it took me to adjust to the change in time zones - I am finally home. Last Shabbat we had dear friends visit from Montreal and I enjoyed the evening immensely, but I am not sure I knew whether I was in New York, California or Tel Aviv. I woke up the next morning ready to pull on my winter coat and run to the deli for milk. What a nice surprise that it was a balmy 18 degrees and sunny.
It is spring here. Not spring for a day - but the actual season. New leaves are appearing on all the plants. The wind is pleasant and the sun is shining. Purim costume stores are popping up everywhere and hamentaschen - sweet and savory - are on offer in the bakeries. How easy it is to forget that the country is under increasing stress.
Last Tuesday, just minutes away from our home 11 people were stabbed, one fatally, while standing on the boardwalk in Yafo looking at the sea. As the ambulances screamed by I was not afraid for myself but afraid of what I would learn once the reports were in. I listened to the news for awhile and watched the surreal footage of the perpetrator running up the HaYarkon like a jogger, stopping at several cars and trying to get. Having a hard time understanding the Hebrew of the reporters in the field I logged on to Facebook.
That was a mistake, but one I make frequently. Lots of praise for the bravery of the martyr. No compassion for the victims - well, frankly they are not described as victims, and sometimes not described at all. This was following immediately by a swarm of posts from my Almae Maters - the very, very, very, very, privileged and sheltered offspring of America's wealthier classes deciding that they have a real understanding of the geopolitics of the Middle East shouting support for the armed uprising and an end to the lives of ordinary people. And of course the icing on the cake - American politicians and pundits issuing their respective views on how to impose a solution (sic) on the situation. The situation is such that none of them can agree upon its nature, but no matter.
The next day, the TV reporters were back interviewing the Yafo merchants. The streets were bare. No trade. Most of the merchants and restaurant owners in the old city are Arabs and very much feeling the decrease in tourism that began last autumn. They are saddened by the events but not for the reasons those outside Israel suppose. This is their home and these are their neighbors.
So for me, in this place, in this time, renewal is the only option. I will not listen to those who have given up and to those who want everyone to give up. And I will not sign up for the cynical view from any side.
I am cleaning up all the dead leaves and repotting the root bound plants. I took the ivy down from the fence and found a surprise nest with a tiny egg. It had been abandoned.