Tisha B’Av

I didn’t write this, but I liked it and its more upbeat and positive than most of what I post so wanted to share it. I was there for last half hour as I came straight from work.

On Tisha B’Av, which fell on August 3rd this year, Jews are enjoined to fast as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. It seemed fitting for members of jfjfp to choose this day to mourn for the deaths in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel and to mourn the damage that the Israeli government has done to the Jewish rubric of compassion and humanitarian concern for the oppressed and defenceless. We decided to make our public protest outside the well defended Israeli embassy in Kensington High Street. The Israeli embassy has suddenly discovered Jewish ritual observance. When we had tried to deliver flowers and a statement to the Lebanese and Israeli embassies as well as to the Palestinian delegation, the Israeli embassy refused us, with a discourtesy that is increasingly their hallmark. They also sent out a press release insisting that the giving of flowers is not a Jewish custom, conveniently forgetting that flowers are laid by Jewish ex-service people on Remembrance Sundays, and that many people lay flowers at Yad Vashem. Since the Israeli government sees itself not only as the keeper of the gun, but of tradition itself, it would be impossible for them to fault our protest. In sackcloth we gathered, members of jfjfp, together with supporters from Global Womens strike and payday who had originally come to our meeting to argue for a fast. Our banner told the Israelis to stop the killing and to negotiate. Some of us fasted others did their best. As one person said: ‘If the Lebanese and Gazans are going without food and water for days, surely we can manage one day’. We had leaflets to hand out and from the beginning it was clear that there was a hunger to do anything, to talk, to read our leaflet, to sign our condolence book. At moments there were even queues standing around. People, from all corners of the world, milled around our banner all day. Sometimes we could hardly cope, even with the amount of protesters around. The Israeli government has taken on the Millwall defence, ‘ Nobody loves us and we don’t care!’. In the whole day only two people defended Israel. One rushed away talking about rockets and refused to engage at all, and another started talking about the advance of Islam, about which he clearly knew nothing. The tragedy was etched on the faces of the people who came to talk, many of whom had family in Lebanon. If I were a supporter of the terror that Israel is raining down from the skies of Lebanon, I would be worried. Israel is clearly now a pariah among the peoples of this world. But not all Israelis support their government. In the late afternoon as the World toWin people came to join our protest , which rather like the Pied Piper was attracting more adherents by the minute, a group of Israelis with their Hebrew placards came along to show that the monolith is cracking. It was all too much for the Israeli embassy. Unable to address us directly and in spite of the fact that the local beat bobby had said we could stay until 7pm, they insisted that their diplomatic protection officer officially inform us to leave at the original stated time, namely 6pm. But we were able to get another half hour out of it and left at 6.30. There is something strange about Tisha B’Av this year. The Medieval Rabbis said that the temple was destroyed as a punitive measure, because the Jewish people had sinned. And so Jews who believe, are enjoined to spend the three weeks prior to Tisha B’ Av in a spiritual state, to withdraw from political activity and contemplate their behaviour in order to protect not only themselves, but also their people. On the 12th July, exactly three weeks prior to Tisha B’Av, Israel began her war against the people of Lebanon.

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