A letter from Israel after the terror attack at Jerusalem Synagogue
Dublin, 18th of November 2014
as you know, a few weeks ago, I meant to interview you in relation to the current situation in Israel following the ISIS raise to power and the many other saddening happenings that are transforming the overall Middle-East area and the northern coast of Africa in very difficult places to live in. Subsequently, I postponed this task and I do not know exactly why. Probably because by now we are all internally convinced that nothing will ever change: why keep writing about it?
However, after the dramatic news of today from Jerusalem, I feel I need to know more, no matter what. I need to know if you are okay, I need to know how it is like to live in your home country in these days, I need to know if anything has changed and if so in what respect. Ultimately, I would like to know what do you and your people hope for the future from this moment onwards.
19th of November 2014
To live in Israel these days feels like living in the midst of a hurricane, and Jerusalem is the eye of that hurricane. All around us, countries are falling apart, governments are losing control over their citizens, civilization is coming undone. Just over our borders, terrorists are arming themselves, digging tunnels, gathering weapons, and saying things like “we love death more than the enemy loves life.” We have entered an era of religious fanaticism which speaks a language that leaves no place for sympathy, compassion or humanist values. The murder of innocent people is celebrated and violence and destruction is rewarded. What is one supposed to do in the face of such an ideology?
If anything has changed, it is that there is little hope that the situation will improve any time soon. The years of the Oslo peace process, and the many rounds of talks were optimistic, and it seemed that if each side could compromise enough, a logical solution was within reach. But there are many forces here which have no interest in a logical solution. They have no use for a prosperous and peaceful life. For them, it is all about lost honor, and perpetuating a cult of victimhood, and refusing the shame of compromise. Still there are always a few, on both sides, who continue to believe that compromise is the only way, and that we cannot afford to give up on that hope.
As you know, my novel, The Wayward Moon, is set in the 9th century Middle East. It takes place during what is considered the “golden age” of Islam, a time when all that was progressive, creative and innovative in the world was coming out of the Islamic empire. Learning and openness to older cultures was prized. Moslem society made a place for Judaism and Christianity and recognized them as fellow monotheistic faiths. Poetry thrived. Musical traditions were developed and expanded. For the first time in hundreds of years, advances were made in the sciences. Islam was confident in its promise of a better life for its adherents, and this confidence made it tolerant and capable of assimilating the ideas of others. This was the Middle East that I wanted to write about, and though its demise occurred centuries ago, I mourn its loss.
The future, I’m sorry to say, looks grim. The area seems to be descending into barbarism. Anti-Semitism, which is, on a deep level, a form of self-hatred, is once again coming into fashion. On television, on the internet, on Facebook, we are confronted with a vast and seething sea of hatred, and we cannot help but pity those who are enslaved to dreams of death and nihilistic fantasy. But when we go to sleep at night, our minds are filled with visions of horror.
Sorry to sound so bleak, but these are some things that have been on my mind for a while.
All the best to you, Rina,