UK olim un­der fire: after de­nial, ‘it’s like the Blitz’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY NATHAN JEFFAY

UN­TIL SATUR­DAY night, Sara-Jane Lands­man had never locked her front door.

“This is kib­butz, not Willes­den where I grew up,” she said. “But when I heard about the tun­nels from Gaza, I locked the door for the first time in 28 years.”

Ms Lands­man is used to rock­ets. Her six chil­dren know the emer­gency rou­tine and “just get on with it”. But know­ing that ter­ror­ists have been found crawl­ing out of tun­nels near her kib­butz means that “this time feels dif­fer­ent.” Un­til now, she said, she was “in de­nial” about the tun­nels.

Kib­butz Alu­mim is so close to the bor­der that troops are massed in its fields. Yet she in­sists on go­ing to work in Beer­sheva when­ever she can. “The phi­los­o­phy is to try to keep things as nor­mal as pos­si­ble be­cause if you don’t, it’s not good for you.”

But get­ting through the day can be tough. Asked what goes through­her­mind­when­she­wakes up, she replied: “You don’t wake up be­cause you don’t sleep — there are noises all night.”

Her fam­ily spent last Shab­bat in cen­tral Is­rael, fur­ther away from the fight­ing. But she found it stress­ful be­ing far from her home and her com­mu­nity.

For some Bri­tish im­mi­grants, the bar­rage of rock­ets has been their wel­come to Is­rael. Since the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion be­gan, a dozen or more Bri­tish Jews have made aliyah.

One of them, Felic­ity Kay, 27, found her­self alone on a Tel Aviv street last Fri­day when the siren sounded. Ms Kay, un­til re­cently a teacher at Yavneh Col­lege in Bore­ham­wood, said she “just shut down and went in to a kind of sur­vival mode”.

She ran into a bomb shel­ter, the siren stopped, and she heard two loud bangs — ap­par­ently the Iron Dome sys­tem in­ter­cept­ing rock­ets — seem­ingly very close to her.

“I qui­etly freaked out,” she said, ad­mit­ting that she may have done so more openly if it were not for others in the shel­ter. “I wouldn’t openly panic in that sit­u­a­tion be­cause panic spreads.” Ms Kay lives in Jerusalem and

says she finds the at­mos­phere in the city sim­i­lar to Lon­don after the 7/7 bomb­ings, al­though the sirens con­jure up other im­ages. “We grow up learn­ing about the Sec­ond World War, the Blitz and the air raid sirens, and it kind of feels like that.”

In the past, Tel Avi­vians felt far re­moved from ten­sions over the Gaza bor­der as, for years, Ha­mas rock­ets could not reach the city. In the last round of fight­ing in 2012, Ha­mas proved its rock­ets had ex­tended range, but it is only this time that there have been re­peated alarms — mak­ing it the first time that Man­cu­nian Jonathan Stark has felt tied to his shel­ter.

He has con­tin­ued trav­el­ling to Her­zlia for his morn­ing He­brew-lan­guage classes, but the rest of the time he stays close to home. “Nor­mally, at the week­end, I would go to the beach or a restau­rant but I’m not do­ing that any more. When peo­ple are out, they are men­tally cal­cu­lat­ing where the clos­est shel­ters are,” he said.

Mr Stark, who moved to Tel Aviv five years ago in his late twen­ties, said he ap­pre­ci­ated the pro­tec­tion pro­vided by the Iron Dome, but added: “There’s al­ways a fear that one rocket will get through.”

Jewish Jeremy and his girl­friend, half-Le­banese Su­lome, post a peace kiss

Sara-Jane Lands­man

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