It’s been a long time since I last posted on this blog. I had intended to write last week about the brutal murder at the hands of a “Palestinian” terrorist of Esther Horgan, a 52-year-old mother of six, who went out jogging the Sunday before last (December 20th) and never returned. Late that night, her lifeless body was found, her head having been smashed in and her body displaying other signs of a horrific attack. Days later, on Thursday December 24th, her murderer, a resident of Jenin in the Palestinian Authority territory, was arrested. He has confessed to having infiltrated Israel and lain in wait for a victim – any victim, as long as they were Jewish. When Esther came jogging by, he attacked her and bludgeoned her to death with a rock.
But it is hard to write about such things and I found myself putting it off, time and time again. Strange. When I started writing this blog, fourteen years ago, such subjects were at the heart of many of my posts. But over time, I began to find it more and more difficult, and instead of finding a release in writing for all my rage, the anger began to build up inside me more and more and eat away at me.
Not that I am any the less angry. But putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to express it has become ever more emotionally draining. And somehow, since the world-wide COVID crisis began, it has become even harder.
Writing, itself, has become more of an effort. The fact that since Sunday evening, we in Israel are once again in lockdown is so depressing that I am finding it difficult even to frame my thoughts to compose this short post. One again, we cannot go further than 1000 metres from our own homes, cannot visit anyone else, cannot go shopping (except to buy food, medicines or other essential items), and cannot meet with other people. Schools, which are generally believed to be a major risk for infection and which were supposed to remain closed, remain open due to pressure from the Ministry of Education. The teachers, on the other hand, are insisting that if they are expected to endanger themselves by coming to work and teaching, they must be bounced to the front of the queue and vaccinated against COVID-19 immediately, even ahead of the over-60s and people with pre-existing health problems such as diabetes and hypertension, who are (theoretically, at least) supposed to be the first to receive the vaccine.
Oddly enough, before the (Pfizer) vaccine arrived, government officials expressed concerns that widespread public suspicion of the new vaccines would lead to a low turnout to receive it. However, a rumour somehow (?) began to spread about fears of a shortage of vaccines (I wonder who started that) and suddenly, it was almost impossible to get through to the various Kupot Holim, either by phone or on their websites to make an appointment. Remember the toilet paper? 😉
I can understand the suspicion of a new vaccine, whose long-term effects cannot be known until – well, until the long-term. I had not intended to be vaccinated. I cannot explain why I changed my mind (it was not the fear of an impending shortage, which I did not believe in anyway), but I did and I have an appointment to receive my first dose the week after next. UPDATE: Since writing this, the Ministry of Health has announced that from January 10th, there will be a hiatus in new (ie. first dose) vaccinations, because there is, in fact, a shortage and they need to ensure enough vaccine is available for those who have already had their first dose and must have the second exactly three weeks later. So no new appointments will be made after January 10th for at least a couple of weeks. I am not sure how this will affect people who have already made appointments. Meanwhile, people who do not intend to get vaccinated themselves, are continuing to bombard me with scare stories and articles by “international experts” (of whom, naturally, I have never heard – and neither had they until they began searching for confirmation of their own fears) about the dangers of the new vaccines.
Not only is Israel back in lockdown, which might be justified, considering the skyrocketing daily toll of new COVID-19 cases – we are also back on the election merry-go-round, since the Knesset automatically dissolved last week, after failing to pass the State Budget Law for the year now ending. This means that in March 2021, Israeli citizens will be voting in the 4th General Election in two years – in the middle of a global pandemic!
But just so as to make sure that things won’t be boring, we have several new parties. Or perhaps I should call them “new-old parties”. After all, Israel is the Old-New Land. 😉
First, Gideon Sa’ar resigned from the Knesset (which he did once before,) quit the Likud party (which he did not do before) and announced the formation of a new party, under his leadership, to be called Tikva Hadasha (A New Hope). Over the next few days, other Likud members, most notably Minister of Water Resources and of Higher Education, Zeev Elkin, announced they would be joining him.
Then, it was the turn of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai to announce that he was joining the race for the Prime Ministership and was founding his own party, Hayisraelim (the Israelis). Perhaps, instead, he should call it The Empire Strikes Back.
And what, you might ask, has become of the old Labour Party (Ha’Avoda) which, under various names, held virtually unchallenged sway over Israel for the first 29 years of the state’s existence? It has all but disappeared. Perhaps it, too, could do with rebranding, and a change of name, if it is to have any hope of regaining its former status. Might I humbly suggest – Return of the Jedi?
In a few hours, we shall say goodbye to what has been a truly horrible year for many of us – although it did have its high points, that can’t be denied. I am sure that most of us, if we are honest, will be able to look back and see that it wasn’t all bad.
Many of us learned new skills. We came to understand that there are millions of people all over the world far worse off than we. Those of us living with family learned to get to know our nearest and dearest better than ever before (for better or for worse). And we learned to appreciate the things we still had, as well as those we had not.
I myself became a great-auntie, my sister became a grandma, and my father became a great-grandpa. 🙂
And somehow, against all the odds, my choir kept going, even though we were forced to rehearse in “capsules” or meet online via Zoom and could not perform in live concerts.
So, to conclude my final post for 2020, here are members of the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the Jerusalem International YMCA Christmas Concert, performing the traditional Hanukkah hymn Maoz Tzur to a tune by the Italian Baroque composer Benedetto Marcello, and the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
Enjoy – and may tomorrow see the start of a brighter, happier, and healthier future for us all.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
A very good summary of the situation in Israel. I know it’s not really funny, every time I read about Israeli politicians resigning and forming new parties, I’m reminded of the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea. I suppose I shouldn’t joke about it, but my philosophy is always look on the bright side of life.
Happy New Year to you, David. Hope things aren’t too bad in the UK and that you’ll be able to be vaccinated soon.
oh my head is spinning!!!!! Praying your lockdown is not as long as the last. I am still thinking we will be locked down again as well. I am hesitant about the vaccine, but will get it…..I feel as if there is no other choice……have no idea when it will be (I am 65, my husband is 70….I have underlying conditions so we will see). Sending lots of love and wishes for a much kinder, gentler 2021!!!
A Happy New Year to you and your husband, and to Roary and Levi.
Quite a sombre post for the end of this rather “different” year! I say Amen to your last sentence! Happy New Year, Shimona x
Happy New Year to you, too, Carolyn – and Austin also.
We can only wish you a better New Year (as of Jan 1) as we are in such a mess over here in the U.;S. we can relate – especially to your anger !
Alas, from what we have seen here on the news over the past year, anger seems to have been the predominant emotion prevalent in the U.S. throughout 2020.
Wishing you a happier and healthier 2021.