State and Country

I really love this country - its landscapes, its climate, the colours and odours that gives it its character. I shut my eyes and relive the summers in Jerusalem of my childhood - the dry air, the scent of almond-tree resin and the dusty patriarchal presence of ancient olive trees, the brilliant sunlight baking the city of stone, the desert's fiery breath blowing at its back. Or the winter when the sky turns purple - El Greco's paintings of Toledo can give you an idea of it... And that's just Jerusalem. Think of the miles of orange groves in the Shephelah, the dreamlike Sea of Galilee swooning in the midday sun, the Mediterranean Sea that laughs in the sunlight and gives Tel Aviv its charm.

The Triumph of the Right

Published in Frontline, India, February, 2009, Volume 26 - Issue 05

There were no shocks or surprises in the results of the elections to the 18th Knesset. Opinion polls had indicated more or less the outcome revealed on the night of February 10th, when the voting booths closed. Nevertheless, older Israelis, such as yours truly, were bemused to see the Labour Party, which had dominated Israel in its first thirty years (and for half a century before independence), fall to fourth place. That the far-right party called Israel Baitenu ('Israel Our Home'), led by the Russian immigrant Avigdor (Ivet) Liberman, has become the third largest party, heightens the strangeness.


Terror Unlimited

(Published in Frontline, India, January 2009, Vol. 26, No. 02)

Like all Israeli children, I was taught selected passages from Jewish history. In my primary school days (up to 1950), the emphasis was on ancient history with its heroic figures, a bit about the early pioneering days of Zionism - between the 1880s and WW1 - followed by the 'national struggle', i.e., against the Arab population in Palestine and against the British government. There was not a great deal about the 18 centuries of exile, from the final destruction of Judea at Roman hands in 132 AD to modern times. We were not encouraged to think about the long chain of Jewish generations in the diaspora, especially not in Europe, where the second millennium was packed with many horrors, such as Crusade pogroms, the Inquisition, then more pogroms, culminating in the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi genocide.


Waiting for peace

(Published in Frontline, India, Volume 25 - Issue 24)

Should Israelis continue to evaluate the relations between Israel and the U.S. in the terms coined and tendered by the Zionist lobby?