Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Palestinian bid for statehood and the end of summer

How the Jewish New Year, the first rain and the Palestinian bid for statehood are connected
The long hot Israeli summer is finally coming to an end. Rain is now mostly a memory. The last heavy rain was six months ago, and the last light rain about four months ago. The temperature has dropped slightly at night, so we now need to cover ourselves with a sheet, though we still sleep with the window wide open.
After months without water, the Lantana bushes that surround my apartment block in Tel Aviv, look dusty and barely alive, yet they always revive once the rains come. The Bougainvillea continues to flower and looks fine and the trees seem to be flourishing.
Predictably, there are far more words to describe rain in English then there are in Hebrew, but Hebrew has two terms that are absent from English: Malkosh, meaning the last rain of the year (in Spring) and Yoreh, meaning the first rain of the year, usually due around October. Both are very ancient words, literally thousands of years old, and can be found in the Pentatuach (Deuteronomy 11).
The end of summer is an important time in the Middle East, it is a time for new beginnings and optimism. So it is a very appropriate time to celebrate the Jewish New Year, to fast in penance at our sins over the previous year (Yom Kippur is ten days later) and restart the annual read of the Pentatuach.
The Knesset is ending its long summer break, the children returning to school, the government committees examining lack of competition in the economy and the need for more social welfare are due to report back. The timing is no coincidence: October and November were also the months that the Intifidas started, the Yom Kippur War began and Sadat visited Jerusalem. Nobody wants to throw rocks in summer or run around the desert covered in a uniform carrying heavy gear in the August heat.
The Yoreh was on Friday, the same day the Palestinians submitted their request for UN sanctioned statehood. The Jewish New Year is next week. In the Middle-East the first rain indicates a blessing, so it would seem the Palestinian bid for statehood, successful or not, has divine sanction. 

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