I was so excited about the next few posts: a wonderful music and arts festival we attended near Jerusalem; some great new recipes for fall; archeological and historical sights I wanted to share; our trip to TelAviv; and some really fun concerts I was planning on attending.
Unfortunately this past week is crashing in on Israel in a whirlwind of horrible events and developments, one after another, in America as well as here. And once again, I light my Yahrzeit candles in memory of the lives cut short. For those of you who have expressed concern, we are all fine. Instead of staying in the center of Jerusalem (and paying exorbitant prices), we opted to stay in a lovely and very peaceful guesthouse on the outskirts of the city, to the West. When we went into Jerusalem, we were always careful of where we were driving or walking, and always on alert in the public areas. I am more than thankful for my dear husband, and take his advice to heart all the time… he has wisdom and discernment which balances my enthusiasm. We had been hearing of isolated rock throwing and escalation of violent attacks on Jews by Palestinians – mostly in the Eastern part of the city. We avoided all those areas. There are seven gates or entrances in the high walls which surround the Old City of Jerusalem. The Holy City is divided up (not evenly at all) into four “quarters:” the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian quarters. We totally avoided all but the brightly lit Jaffa Gate in the evening, and the Zion Gate leading into the Jewish quarter during the day. There were times in the evening, while going to pray at the Kotel, that John steered us waaaaay clear of dark alleys or narrow passages through the shuk. When he had an uncomfortable feeling about a group of people on a corner, or was uncertain about entering a particular street, he would insist that we make another way (the Old City is like a huge labyrinth) even if it meant backtracking and taking a much longer route. I continually thank G-d for this gift he has given to John, and lean heavily upon it.
The day after we arrived back home, we learned of the brutal murders of Eitam & Na’ama Henkin. The young couple were traveling home from Sukkat dinner with his parents, 4 miles away. Their four young children were in the back seats of the car when the car was ambushed with rocks, followed by gunshots from Palestinian terrorists. The parents died in front of their children, ages 9 and under. That was early Friday morning.
Also Friday, I started receiving calls, emails, and news feeds with the latest news. Not only is Russia now heavily a presence – and rapidly and drafting escalating troops, bombings and outposts in Syria, but the Chinese fleet has partially arrived on the Lebanese Coastal Cities of Tyre/ Tartus to support Russian-Iranian military buildup in the region. My friend in the lower Golan Heights (4 miles from the front, 25 miles from us) can hear the shelling on a daily basis. China is also sending in marines, paratroopers and other foot soldiers as well as advanced missile and anti-missile systems, anti-submarine cruisers, cutting edge fighter jets and drones. Another airspace has been cleared for this in Syria, and a central command post for Iran, Hizbollah, Russia, China is now being set up in Bagdad, once a US stronghold before we pulled out leaving a vacuum. The Iraqis are now turning to the forces of evil to fill the gap. Everyone says they are fighting ISIS, but it seems as if ISIS is being allowed to roam free and the Syrian rebels against the Assad regime are being targeted. All this while Russia, China, the US and Israel are meeting and speeches being presented at the UN in New York. All this as the US president meets with these world leaders… things seem to be stepping up rather quickly in this new year. Russia, Hizbollah & China are all less than an hour’s drive from here. Damascus, Syria (just North of Lebanon) to Tel Aviv is less than 125 miles – supersonic jets can traverse the area in a matter of minutes. So… we watch and pray…. a lot. John, Max, and I knew exactly what moving to this country would entail, and the hardships we might have to endure. We have come here willingly, and not with a blind eye or sense of utter romantic folly. We are not afraid.
Also on Friday, it was revealed that large ISIS ring was found, and a nice weapons stockpile confiscated in Nazareth, 8 miles south as the crow flies. Thank you Mossad, IDF, and Israeli police for being diligent and aware, and doing a great job to protect the citizens from these thugs. I say a few of the black and white Palestinian/Hamas flags from windows when we visited four years ago. It was creepy then, and I had a bad feeling about that town. Last night, we received news reports about several more stabbings and shootings of Jewish people (men, women, babies, teens) in Jerusalem. People are saying this is the beginning of a third intifada. All are looking for Bibi Netanyahu to come down hard on all acts of violence – with “an iron fist.” We pray…. a lot… for peace. And just this morning, I had word of a raid on two homes exposing another stockpile of Palestinian’s weapons – in the small town of Jenin near the Green Line. Not too far from where Max is stationed. We have several friends (scattered throughout the country) who have one or more children serving in the army. Interesting, many are being called up North – in fact, I hope to be making cookie deliveries with a friend to at least two of the battalions (we’re Jewish moms… the kids have to eat… and that’s what we do to show our support). We are not going out looking for trouble. We will be careful. We will support these kids by offering them food, a hot meal, and a place to stay when they are on leave in the area.
I really did want to write a great, fun article this morning, but life has gotten in the way. I just can’t face the thought of much else today. So much is going on in the States, Europe, and here. We pray for Netanyahu to surround himself with the right people, people of integrity, who will advise him well and not to their own advantage. We pray that his physical and emotional needs will be met, so that he has the strength to work with so many fires to put out. We pray that he will be spiritually strong as well, turning to HaShem, G-d, for guidance, counsel, and strength. May HaShem help our police and secret agents to continue to uncover any terror cells before they have the chance to act. May G-d make us invisible to our enemies, who seem so close at this time. May G-d advance our high tech defense systems and our researchers with brilliant new ways to thwart the plans of evil. Please HaShem, knit all your people here together with bonds of peace and unity (whether Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Deconstructionist, Hiloni) and may the Jewish people somehow be able to work with the Christians, Druze, and peaceful Arabs living in our midst so that we can stand strong together.
I’m hoping for less drama – and a couple of really upbeat, fun, and joyful posts later this week. For those of you who want real copy news articles and verification of all the reports I’ve given, just let me know. I’m making an ever-growing file of documents, and am happy to share the latest reports as they come to me from multiple sources. And no, we are not afraid!
Peace be with us all….and please, regardless of your faith, let’s join together in hope and prayer…