Science fiction, Israel style

JULIAN RESNICK writes from Israel

I have never been a great fan of science fiction. I have never seen Star Wars, Star Trek (for me it is Star Drek) or Back to the Future. I have seen ET, but I would argue that ET is not science fiction, but a very special way of looking at the way human beings connect with one another.

I have never made an effort to see an eclipse and, to be honest, always preferred the Humanities to the Sciences. I can name many of the great poets of the English language, but struggle with the physicists, chemists, and biologists.

For me the great heroes of the Jewish People have always been Bialik, Agnon, Bashevis Singer, and yes, Mordechai Anilewicz, Hannah Senesh and A.D. Gordon.

And then April 13th happened. 

Talk about science fiction; talk about when reality is weirder than fiction.

If anyone had ever told me that, on an evening during my life, the army spokesperson in the country in which I live, Israel, would go on national television, and tell us that hundreds of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, armed Drones and Cruise Missiles were on their way from Iran and, within a few hours would arrive in Israel, I would have either asked them what they were smoking — or ask them whether they were fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Back to the Future, or possibly a relative of one of the best known Jewish authors of all times, Isaac Asimov.

Seriously, what is one supposed to do with the knowledge that a weapon of mass destruction is winging its way to you. My wife and I watched the Army spokesperson literally telling us that we would be on the receiving end of hundreds of incoming missiles and drones, and told us to prepare for the possibility that we might have to be in the shelters for a while. 

What do you do if you are the grandfather of a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old, 4- year-old twins, another 4-year-old, a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old and a 6-day- old, newborn, little boy? So, four of them are with their parents doing medical subspecialties in the United States, three are on the kibbutz, and one is in Tel Aviv. 

I called my son in America to say hello (or was it goodbye? I am still unsure.) I made sure that I was prepared for the bomb shelter. Spoke with my daughter in Tel Aviv and then we tried to go to sleep for a few hours based on the knowledge that we might be needed with the grandchildren the next day.

And then the extraordinary news started coming in. We, Israel, with help from the United States of America (Thank you, Mr President, you really came through!) and other allies, significantly some Arab countries among them, had prevented 99% of the murderous missiles and drones from getting through in their attempt to cause mass destruction in Israel.

As of those 48 hours my Jewish Heroes are changing. I now know the name Daniel Gold, whose work enabled us to develop our extraordinary defence systems. (I am aware that both of his parents were Hungarian Jews, survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.)

This is a time to celebrate the scientists of Israel, the pilots of the Israeli Air Force, the soldiers, men and women, who did what was needed to do to keep us all safe. This is a time to say thank you to the high school physics and chemistry teachers in Israel, woefully underpaid, like all the teachers in Israel. Thank you to the Technion, the Weizmann Institute, the universities of Israel.

When Isaac Bashevis Singer received the Nobel Prize for Literature — well deserved — there was a line in his acceptance speech where he mentions that this is also an award to the Yiddish language which he mentions has no words for “weapons, ammunition, military exercises, war tactics”.

Thankfully, In Hebrew there is. We have 
!!!כפת ברזל, קלע דוד וחץ
(Kippat Barzel, Kelah David and Chetz!!!)

Julian Resnick was born in Somerset West and grew up in Habonim Dror. He studied at UCT, and made Aliyah in 1976. He’s conducted numerous shlichuyot and educational missions on behalf of Israel, to Jewish communities in England and the USA. He works as a guide in Israel and around the world (wherever there is a Jewish story). 

He’s married to Orly, and they have three children and eight grandchildren and is a member of Kibbutz Tzora.

• Published in the May 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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