Phyllis Chesler Interviews Carol Gould

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Why is No-one afraid to Visit Places more Violent than Israel?
Last uploaded : Friday 27th Feb 2004 at 20:14
Contributed by : Sheila Raviv


There is a hummingbird on our veranda, his black iridescence glistening as he darts to and fro on the naked branches of our pomegranate tree. I wondered what sweet succour he could find there and then I saw his target, the bright lavender coloured flowers of the rosemary bush. What a delightful harbinger of spring. The sun is shining, warming our winter bones and the streets are busy with last minute shoppers before it all sinks into the quiet of pre-Shabbat Jerusalem. The roadsides and roundabouts are filled with flame red tulips given to Jerusalem by the Dutch Christians for Israel, whom my husband Zvi and I are proud to call friends.

Ron Cohen is the son of Zvi's childhood friend Mickey. Many of you know Mickey without knowing his name. If you ever went to a Municipal event, it was arranged by Mickey. Ron sat on a bus last Sunday, not knowing that he was sitting beside a man who would soon blow himself to pieces. Ron got off at his stop and began walking when he heard a huge explosion. Ron was hurt by flying debris but called his mother to tell her that he was hurt but OK and to which hospital he was going. This 14-year-old had the incredible presence of mind, despite his injuries, to worry first about his mother.

It is strange: there are far more violent places on earth; indeed most cities in the USA, UK or Europe, let alone South America or the third world yet few would think twice about going to visit Mexico, Brazil or Delhi yet are scared to come here. The chances of being hurt here are comparatively negligible yet, and this is the big YET, here it is not the numbers involved; it is the hatred behind the violence that is so terrifying. That is the nature of terrorism

I learned something last week at a briefing by members of the Israeli Security and Defence Committee; you know how on [the world's] TV News they always show the poor Arab (Palestinian) farmer who lost the grazing land for his sheep because of the big bad Israelis and their WALL? Well, what they don't say is that the land has not been confiscated; it has been requisitioned by legal order for a period of 3 years. The owner gets rental on every centimetre!!!!

In his briefing on last Sunday the Chief of Staff answered a question about the rumoured lack of morale in the IDF. The news media talk of a new generation who don't want to serve in the IDF. This is another media lie; it is simply not true. Whereas former generations wanted to complete their compulsory service and go to study, they had to be cajoled into officer training?now so many youngsters, male and female, volunteer for officer training that the army is forced to choose and those who are accepted are very proud. The younger generation is naturally idealistic and in many cases will look for reforms, but understand that we are not fighting a known enemy. We are fighting an enemy who hides in a cowardly fashion behind its children, which makes our self-defence more difficult and is yet another reason for the fear which is not in proportion to the number of violent acts.

PM Sharon went to Kfar Kassem to talk to the heads of Arab towns and villages that are on the seam line. They are deeply concerned that they will wind up on the Palestinian side of the border and it scares them! The PM promised that no Arab town or village would be where they don't want to be.

We have been trying to give Gaza back to the Egyptians since 1967! Despite our peace treaty with Egypt the smuggling of armaments through tunnels dug from Egypt coming up under homes in Gaza is rife. Every day we find more and more of this warren of tunnels which feeds arms to the Islamic Jihad, Fatah and Hamas. Today's BICOM report on the subject explains it so well that any report from me is superfluous. Go to

I am still exhausted from yesterday's visit to Mahane Yehuda! I love being there, love the smells of the spices, fish and fruit and vegetables that intermingle with the calls of the costermongers. The fruits and vegetables are almost as fresh as the tongues of those who sell them!!! I then went on to the German Colony -- as usual bustling, although in a much more dignified, slower manner than Mahane Yehuda it still has the urgency of a busy neighbourhood filled with restaurants and good stores. I found the most amazing spice shop which opened just a day ago. It was like walking into a wonderland of culinary ambition!

Not all our neighbours wish us evil! In yet another bi-lateral step forward, Israel and Jordan are setting up a joint academic research institute on the border between the two countries. The Bridging the Rift Institute is promoted by a foundation set up by both Stanford and Cornell Universities and the plans for building this wonderful project are going ahead apace. It shows, yet again that we all have so much to benefit from living as good neighbours rather than destroying any chance of peace by promoting violence.

I now intend going out on my veranda to watch the city slow down into that glorious stillness before the siren sounds to tell us that Shabbat is here and it is time to light the candles and welcome the bride of Shabbat into our homes.

Shabbat Shalom dear friends. May you and yours be blessed with a home filled with humour and love, and may your neighbours always be friendly.

With love from Jerusalem, the city which won the Dan David Prize!

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