A feeling of deja vu came over me this morning, as I attended a packed gathering at our synagogue. Here, we heard several Israelis discuss the situation in southern Israel at present from eye-witness accounts. The gathering also heard from the Av Bet Din of Manchester, who stressed the importance of the unity of the Jewish people at this time and led us in reciting the thirteen attributes of God's mercy, as well as Psalms:
Outside in the foyer, money was being collected to buy toys for children who are having to survive in a shelter in the southern city of Beersheba:
This is left-winger, Benny Morris', take on the whole Hamas situation:
He teaches at Ben-Gurion University, which is itself in the Beersheba area and having to adopt emergency procedures at present:
Having stayed the night in a shelter myself once in Haifa, it is the nearest I have ever come to being in prison, and that was in peace time, just after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, to be exact.
Goodness know what those poor children in Beersheba are going through at the moment.
Also today, I spoke by phone to friends in Haifa. They told me that their sons were now in the army in Gaza. They said this as flatly as if they were talking about the weather, or the loaf of bread I bought later in a Jewish shop. Here, an old acquaintance from Dublin informed me that her son was now also in the army, having made aliyah two years ago.
The Jewish people want peace - they want it very badly. But one can only take so much aggression and hatred. And there therefore comes a time, for the sake of the greater good, when the bullies have to be faced and prevented from causing total death and destruction to all around them:
And meantime, the most chilling thing that we heard from the representative of the Community Security Trust http://www.thecst.org.uk/ was that, at the present moment, Jewish school children around here in leafy Broughton Park and Prestwich should walk home in pairs - just in case.