NSWJBD President in Jerusalem

November 22, 2012 by  
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As the ceasefire holds, the president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies reports on what he experienced as hostilities raged….from Yair Miller, Jerusalem

Yair Miller

It was a surreal moment and felt like a scene from a movie, when the sirens sounded for just the second time in over 20 years this afternoon in Jerusalem. My fiancée and I were in the Jerusalem City Centre when the sirens began. There had been a sustained attack on Beersheva in the morning in particular, as well as the continuation of attacks on the other cities in the south closer to Gaza. Jerusalem has remained quiet since the siren sounded last Friday evening for a rocket that eventually landed in Gush Etzion – about a 20-minute drive South of Jerusalem.

In Jerusalem you have more time than the 15 seconds they have in places like Sdorot and the surrounding yeshuvim. It was still remarkable to watch the instant clearing of the main city centre streets as we moved quickly to the nearest shop we could get to – a small luggage shop in our case. The lovely elderly manger was at pains to ensure we were safe – moving us away from windows and further in to the shop. As we stood waiting for the sirens to stop, not knowing when or if anything would happen, it was amazing to see that some people continued to walk around the streets as if nothing was going on.

Within a minute or two of the sirens stopping it was as if nothing had happened. The buskers were back on the streets, busses were moving freely down Jaffa Street and stores were once again doing business like just before – even though most shop attendants were on their phones checking on loved ones and trying to find out where the rocket had landed. That was before the radio stations clarified that it had once again landed in Gush Etzion and announced that soldiers who had gone to check on possible impact, just outside Bethlehem, were pelted with stones by local Palestinian residents.

The contrasts in the country at the moment are almost incomprehensible. The 1.5 million Israelis from Tel Aviv in the centre through to Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod, and of course those on the Gaza border like Sdorot, are living in a continuing hell. They have not been able to live anything resembling a normal life for close to a week. Today alone just over 150 rockets fell across the region. Yet until this afternoon you would not think anything was happening at all as you moved around Jerusalem.
Many of those areas along the Gaza border have been facing this sort of disruption on a daily basis for months. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States was interviewed on TV this evening. He made the amazing statement that more rockets have fallen on Southern Israel in the last 5 years than fell on London during World War 2. He asked how any other country would react if living with this reality.

As I write this there is much talk of a ceasefire and we all sincerely hope that it will happen soon. The suffering of both the Israeli and Palestinian civilians, brought about through the actions of Hamas and the other Iranian proxies in Gaza, will stop as soon as the rockets do. This round of conflict started due to the actions of Hamas and these other groups, and it will stop as soon as soon as their terror does. No Israeli whom you speak with wants this conflict. Support for the actions of the Israeli government and the IDF over the last week is almost unanimous, but all Israelis are clear that they would prefer it did not need to happen.

Yair Miller is President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and in Israel to lead the Board’s inaugural Advocacy Training Mission in conjunction with HonestReporting.


2 Responses to “NSWJBD President in Jerusalem”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    I must declare that I am in full agreement with both my daughters, Aiurea and Nebuna and their respective husbands, Aladar and Javaharlar that Yair Miller is doing a great job, whatever he does and wherever he is.

    Goodonya you restless Viking !!!

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    I have no idea if my mild criticism of the NSWJBD and its president are going to see the light of print, but, what the heck…………

    The entire idea that a president of the most important Jewish organisation in NSW, a roof body, no less, doubles as a tour guide and, a one incredible result, leaves his constituency leader-LESS when the community needs leadership so acutely, is incredibly unacceptable, however NOT surprising, considering the apalling “achievements” of the saem Board of Deputies in the past few years.

    Questions must be answered:

    – how does this venture fit into the profile of the Board’s mandatory activities, its communal obligations ??!!

    – why is it AT all necessary for anyone to accompany tours in a country where there is no shortage of English speaking people who would know the local realities MUCH better than an Australian, irrespective of how much time the Australian would have spent in the past or on occasional visits to Israel.

    many more such questions, but I doubt it very much that Jwire will allow this justified comment to become public, let alone see any response from anyone at the Board.

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