Jerusalem Diaries

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“Imagine if 1000 people from all over the world came to Israel immediately
after each terrorist attack. Imagine what that would tell the world!”

Judy Lash Balint, freelance correspondent
for several publications outside of Israel, and a radio show aired from Seattle,
is frankly disappointed in the reactions of Jews from all over the world.

She analogizes, “if your mother or
your grandmother were sick, you would rush over, you would visit, you would
show how much you care. But why, why, when Israel is hurting, every day,
why has tourism dropped off? Where is everyone?”

“Davka” she says, using the Hebrew
term meaning in spite of, especially and even more now than ever,
“davka now, the planes must be filled with tourists who are visiting for the
first time, or else, we will be destroyed from within.”

Balint feels that American Jews sympathize,
but do not empathise, with Jews living in Israel. “They don’t feel our pain
and do not really appreciate Israel’s centrality to all Jews. We are on separate
tracks, and it shows.”

@The Source Israel interviewed Ms.
Balint when she was in Washington, DC, to promote her book Jerusalem
Diaries: In Tense Times
(Gefen Press) and to meet with American Jews
and urge them to visit Israel.

Jerusalem Diaries began as a
way of documenting “life behind the headlines in these historic times.”
An updated edition has been published to include events through December
2001. Balint believes that American readers deserve to understand life
in Israel from the point of view of those experiencing it directly–not
just from newspaper headlines and TV sound bites. And when asked how Israelis
are holding up, she replied “it’s a mix, there’s a lot of stress and despondency,
we’ve been devastated economically, unemployment is high, but it’s the teenagers
especially who are hurting, their movements are restricted and their friends
are being killed. Psychosomatic illnesses, sleeping and eating disorders
as well as depression are common. Some people have responded with prayer
and increased acts of random kindness and many of us are living with a greater
sense of purpose and of urgency.”

“Don’t distance yourself,” she concludes,
“run towards us, not away. Don’t let us be alone!”

Read more about Jerusalem Diaries.

Text by Deborah Rosenbloom.

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