Monday, January 11, 2010

The Sun is Shining Over Israel

By Naomi Ragen

As brutal winter storms paralyze Europe and America, the sun is shining all over Israel. The unseasonable warmth has us hiking through the green hills without sweaters, basking in the glorious light and warmth. This, after a good many downpours that helped replenish our parched water resources.

As reported by year's end summaries, this past year saw suicide bombings in Israel reduced to zero, thanks to the wall our enemies are so determined to break down. Our economy seems to have weathered beautifully the tragic economic downturns everywhere else, and our housing market continues to flourish. New immigrants and tourists are up. And a whooping ten thousand yordim returned home, finding that the greener pastures they were seeking were in their own backyards after all.

Challenges, of course, still abound: The rights of women continue to be violated, the most obvious examples in the "mehadrin" bus lines, where last week The Jerusalem Post reported that a 60 year- old grandmother in Safad, who refused to give in to the demands of an 18 year- old yeshiva boy to move to the back of the bus, wound up forced to mace him. Of course, the police arrested her. Then Anat Hoffman, who leads the Women of the Wall, whose "crime" was to have a women's minyan at the Kotel, was also arrested and fingerprinted for "defiance." (Can there really be such a law?)

Children too, continue to be the victims of senseless violent crimes. A haredi father threw his wife and four year-old out of the house, locked the door and smashed his eight month old against the floor, killing her. A haredi father who shook his baby to death because her crying was disturbing his 'rest' (and whose arrest caused riots in Jerusalem) appealed his manslaughter sentence and lost.

In shul, I looked down into the men's section from my seat in the women's balcony, watching a tall young father place a baby girl on his lap, carefully straightening her dress, and offering her a bottle. I watched a father caress the back of his small son's head.

We look forward to an even better year.

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