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Monday, 30 April 2012

Where The Loop Of Life Is Broken

We bobbed up and down so much and so fast last night, I’m still unsure whom were were applauding – and  sometimes why!

Elvis Presley (virtual) was there with Noam Shalit (real), his son, Gilad (virtual), members of the Israel Defence Forces (in the audience and on film) along with  the parents and son of Israeli singer, Dudu Fisher –  known  best to modern opera fans as Jean Valjean from Les Miserables.Dudu.Fisher

About  2,000 of us had packed the stupendous ancient amphitheatre at Bet Shean in Israel’s northern Jordan Valley, for the concert starring Fisher who played on our emotions  quite shamelessly  It was a shared secret  – he knew – we knew he knew -  exactly why we were there. 

Those present included 700 of American Jewry’s most generous  and  ardent Israel supporters and although most will never ‘make aliya’ – emigrate to Israel - they yearn for their children and grandchildren to do so on their behalf.

The event was the climax of a nine-day tour by the Miami  Jewish Federation. Some people, like me, were there as guests.

What a difference 24 hours can make. Earlier yesterday the U.S. crowd had been addressed by President Shimon Peres. Both he and they were elated to learn they were the biggest single crowd to visit Israel in a decade.

Yesterday we guests felt most proud to learn from Dudu’s son that as Galilee residents -  along with those in the Negev - we were part of an elite 30% of the Israeli population living outside the comfort zone of central Israel.

Today, Mr Peres was in my new home town of Karmiel where he spoke to a crowd at a cornerstone laying for a new Israel Air Force technological college. Even as this ‘show’ opened, another closed when Peres requested that everyone stood for a minute’s silence in memory of  Benzion Netanyahu. The illustrious 102-old historian and  father of President Benjamin Netanyahu had most probably gone to his fathers even as Fisher played schmaltzy tribute to his own Dad - mercifully still  on earth.  

Who said it’s ‘not the singer but the song’?  During this weekend of mixed blessings, we also motored to the Carmel Forest where a bare  – indeed, viciously burned, blackened  16 months ago – our glorious Galilee countryside and scores of people had been ravaged by fire.

But restoration work has long since started and if the proverbial alien  were to drop on the Ein Hod Artists’ Village he would be blissfully unaware that anything had ever been amiss.

We were there on a day of – hmm – delicious, sun-filled eccentricity – to hear the talented Marcie and Paul Forrest with colleague,  Dvir Cafri evoke the shade of the Fab Four. The trio appeared as ‘Yesterday’s Dream’ and I bet Macca and Co never believed in their own wildest dreams that one day they’d be so much the fabric of everyday life that their music would be standard lunchtime family fare at an artists’ outpost in northern Israel.

But it was back to grim reality on the way home. We stopped to pay our respects at the memorial to the 44 Prison Service cadets and others who perished  in the fire when it  trapped and burned  the bus carrying them to evacuate inmates from the near-by Damon Prison.

There were faded flowers entwined among the names inscribed on the wall of the main memorial; an appropriate quotation from the Hebrew bible and and a piece of metal-work whose meaning  I tried in vain to understand. Another visitor suggested that the exaggerated and elongated curve represented ‘the loop of life’. But I was not so sure. After all, it was open-ended. Finally, I understood. The ‘loop’ never quite closes as the ridiculous cliché of everyday life goes on.


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