I returned to the scene of the crime – well not literally, but we went to Ashkelon, where I had a very mis-spent youth! I was a volunteer there – well too many years ago. One of the things I did at the time was do some work with the hospital radio station, and we went back to that same hospital. Of course nothing was as I remembered it, Ashkelon has doubled in size, and given the proximity to the Gaza strip you could see signs of damage in the area.
We also went to the command bunker for any emergency in the city – it is not just there to be used for rocket attack – it would be called upon in case of natural disasters such as earth quakes or tsunami – and they do have evidence of such events in the past.
After that – lunch, then well there is only one thing to say – ‘Carlsberg don’t do israel semiars, but if they did they’d look like this!’ Yup, a trip to the brewery and it would have been very rude to refuse the tasters afterwardds (hic!)
On to Kibbutz Yad Mordechai – there is a museum there dedicated to the memory of the man the Kibbutz is named for, the 24 year old leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Mordechai Anilewitz. It shows the ghetto in Warsaw, with a detailed model and a reconstrcuction on the bunker the fighters used, it then goes on to sho the history of the kibbutz, which was destroyed by the Egyptian army during the war of independence and reclaimed into the beautiful place it is now. They seem to have found a use for all the old farm equipment, it has become art as part of various sculptures around the place. There is also a look out point over a reconstruction of the battlefield – you could clearly see Gaza.
After that – up the coast road to Tel Aviv to the most amazing cafe/theatre. The waiters and waitresses are all deaf, so you communicate via sign langauge and writting things down – it was surprising ly easy as the table clothes all have some signs on them to give you a starter. There is anothe restaurant there called blackout – it’s in the dark and all the waiters are blind, but they couldn’t take a big group.
The show was amazing – the actors were all either blind, deaf or had some degree of both. They made bread as the show and through music, dance and with the aid of able bodied assistants and interpreters told the story of their hopes and dreams while the bread baked. Then we got to meet the actors and try the bread.
A slight balagan as the locals called it – we couldn’t get into the building where we were supposed to be meeting up, for some reason the security man was a little paranoid. But once we got past that part, we had some talks about the real figures to quote when people try to demonize Israel, and the author Saul Singer came to talk about his book Start Up nation.
After lunch (with thorough security!) we went to the Knesset (parliament). We met two members, one in government, Dr Einat Wilf PhD who explained the Israeli electoral process, and Shlomo Mula, an Ethiopian born MK who was part of the opposition, he spoke about how a government was formed and what his party’s view of the peace process should be.
We then went back to see a film – Srugim – the nearest way I can describe it is an Israeli version of Friends. It was very good and I think I may have to hunt down the DVD