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Aug 2005 Journal

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Letter from Israel

Having forsworn principles as the root of all human misery, while adhering only to one - to have none - I decided to accept the invitation to attend my nephew's engagement party deep in the heart of the Territories, in the fortified 'settlement' of Eilon Moreh.

Principles apart, the fear factor could also be a reason not to cross the so-called Green Line, which constitutes Israel's once-and-future border, but since I am no longer the mother of young children and am therefore biologically dispensible, I decided that my departure from this earth would be no great loss. Besides, terrorist attacks have declined considerably in recent months.

A bullet-proof bus had been laid on for the revellers by the family and, after some delays we set off on our way. The long, light evenings that prevail at this time of year enabled us to enjoy the view as we passed.

The soft contours of the Judean Hills looked inviting and peaceful, with Arab villages and Jewish settlements dotted here and there, seeming to blend in with the scenery. The setting sun cast a rosy glow over everything, and no more idyllic or pastoral sight could be imagined.

We reached our destination without any untoward occurrences, and made our way to the synagogue hall, where the festive meal was to be served. The walls were plastered with posters glorifying the struggle to establish the initial settlements in the Territories some 38 years previously and praising the heroic efforts of all those who had followed in the footsteps of those early pioneers.

The meal was punctuated by speeches from the fathers of the bride and the groom with, as is customary in such circles, biblical quotations considered appropriate for the occasion. In this case, these were culled from passages regarding the settlement of the Land of Israel in ancient times. Thus was a family celebration turned into a political statement.
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

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