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For the last month or so, with my best interests at heart, the baker down the street has insisted that we complete all our transactions in Hebrew. His bakery is only a block away from our apartment, on Aza street, but because of his rigid policy Marcia and I have been eating a lot of stale bread.
My language lesson/bread-stop each Friday morning is part of a larger routine. After I buy a challah at the bakery I usually step into the coffee shop next door to wave to Marvin, the owner, an oleh from Canada who has lived in Israel for 25 years. Along the same circuit I sometimes buy treats for Penn_E at the pet store owned by Eldad, a sabra, who says that Penn_E is spoiled. Last, I pass the Green Spot, a flower shop run by Ayalah and one of her daughters, also native Israelis .
We usually wave to each other wishing Sabbath Peace.
Why do I mention these people? Because I have learned recently that they, along with Marcia and me, are part of The International Jewish Conspiracy to rule the world; a subset of “The Jews,” the cancer that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks of when discussing Iran’s peaceful nuclear power initiative and his desire to cleanse the earth of me, my wife and our new friends.
We all have the same complaint. None of us has received the first penny from the conspiracy coffers.
The bakery, the pet store, the flower shop and Marvin’s bistro, all serious businesses, are located on or near Aza Street in Jerusalem, within walking distance of the walled city where the kings and prophets of ancient Judah lived. Also not far is the modern intersection of Aza and Ben-Maimon where other serious business has been going on.
There in 2002 the Cafe Moment was destroyed by a suicide bombing during the second Intifada. Eleven were killed in the explosion. Just down the street, eleven more were killed and fifty injured in a suicide bus-bombing in 2004. Two Americans we know who still live in a nearby apartment heard the #19 bus explode on that day, saw it in flames from their balcony and, when they ran to the scene, met a good friend, covered with blood, who had been on the bus.
And just down the street…
The Palestinian suicide bombers and Iran’s Khamenei and Ahmadinejad do not make much sense in terms of rational thought. I think this is because hating the Jews, holocaust denial, and ridding the world of the Jewish cancer, though not very original, are imperatives of their faith, at the core of the Qur’an.
But, by common standards, Marvin, Eldad, Ayalah and the baker aren’t being rational either. They live in Israel. They go about their business cheerfully ignoring much of the world’s willingness to demonize and delegitimize their state and their fellow Jews. They believe, despite the claims of the UN, Hilary Clinton, et al, that Israel is the undeniably ordained Jewish homeland.
And they are unafraid, though they understand they are at risk; but then risk is nothing new to Jews after pogroms, inquisitions, the holocaust, bombings and wars since the time of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III nearly 3,000 years ago. Their lack of tangible fear, their sense that they are doing the right thing no matter what may happen, is underpinned by the words of the prophets who walked the ancient streets not far from where their businesses now stand. So here we find this stiff-necked and troublesome people hanging on; they who, as the prophets predicted, have gathered again to face whatever might come, together, in Israel. About 2, 600 years ago, a prophet spoke these words…
Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have compassion on the entire house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name. They will bear their shame and all their [guilt from] breaking faith with me, once they are living securely in their land, with no one to make them afraid. This will be only after I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies lands. (Ezekiel 39:25-27)
It is amazing how clearly and often the prophets speak of the restoration of Israel, which in the past 60 years has miraculously risen from the dust, restored a dead language, turned the desert green, won wars against overwhelming odds and gathered Jews together in the promised land from all over the globe. All as foretold.
And it is only the beginning.