Friday, August 27, 2004

Column: August 27

The Klezmer festival was in Tzfat last week bringing three nights of music and night life to this sleepy little mountain town. The streets were busy until the early hours of the morning. Booths were set up everywhere where drinks, food, clothes, jewelry and art were on sale. People came from all over the country. Security was tight with police stationed on the roads and stopping traffic and checking cars at least five miles before the entrance to town. The main street, Rechov Yerushalayim, was jammed from wall to wall for a good quarter mile and yet there was no real sense of danger.

That such a scene could take place might seem strange -- after all, we are in the midst of a war on terror. For me, I am generally little comforted by security measures taken -- although the limited access to mountainous Tzfat makes security easier and more reliable -- and heavily weigh my assessment of the situation based on the current ebb and flow of terrorist attacks. Being that it has been relatively quiet lately I felt pretty good about the situation. That coupled with the security considerations mentioned and the overall remoteness and quietness of Tzfat, made for what I felt was a relatively safe environment. All of these things and more were part of my thought process when contemplating participating in the music festival.

I am glad that I chose to attend. I saw Aaron Razel perform with Areyeh Zilber on the Thursday night and Adi Ran on Wednesday night. I also met friends of friends who were visiting from the US and got to play tour guide and see the city through their first impression eyes. I took them up to the citadel which overlooks the whole city and much of the Galilee and on our way down we were treated to a fireworks display that we were perfectly situated to watch. Tzfat will always be remembered by my new friends as a festive place with fireworks and beer and music and throngs of happy, peaceful, Jews -- a secure place steeped in history, torah, and kabballah. That is as it should be.


Elul is here and Rosh Hashanah is right around the corner. The air has already taken on an element of the Holidays. If you have experienced the mixed feeling of mercy and awe that permeates the air on Rosh Hashanah then you know what is in the air here already. This is truly amazing. On Long Island, growing up, I would sense the leaves beginning to change and the crispness in the air replacing the heavy heat and humidity -- and then, on Rosh Hashanah, something magical would happen and the world really felt new. It was awe mixed with mercy -- mercy mixed with awe -- and the leaves beginning to fall.

Here I can feel it already, the awe and the mercy, but physically the changes are different. The grapes are beginning to sweeten, the pomegranates are turning cherry red, the fallen figs are slowly and sweetly rotting and the olives are out and waiting patiently for the first rains to fatten them up. The Sepharidim are well into slichot and the shofar is heard every morning. It's a great relief from the intense days of Av with the fast of the 9th and sense of judgment and while the day of judgment approaches the sweetness of mercy is tangibly present.


I plan to write about the subject of the US troop withdrawals from Europe in the weeks to come as the withdrawals will in my estimation have a powerful effect on Israel. What follows is the beginning of my piecing it together.

In "Welcome Back, Europe" on NRO, Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote:

"So it is also with some trepidation that we are seeing the inevitable end of the old, and the beginning of a new, transatlantic world, as troops on the ground at last reflect the reality of the past 20 years. And as we begin to leave Europe, as NATO mutters and shuffles in its embarrassing dotage, as cracks in an authoritarian and unworkable EU begin to widen, ever so slowly we here in the United States shall start to witness all over Europe both a new sensibleness — and a new furor."

As Europe changes to adjust to the new reality, Israel will change too, especially Israel's Euro-oriented Left. A "new sensibleness" means an end to the harsh anti-Americanism that permeates so much of Europe and with it the dominance of anti-American France and Germany. Israel's Left will fade further into oblivion as the EU coat tails it clings to melt away -- and hopefully with it the European approach of appeasement to terror that is the hallmark of Old Europe and Israel's Left.


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