Monday, February 6, 2006

Ani Yerushalmi, I am a Jerusalemite

The famous Israeli singer, Yoram Gaon's recent statements don't really surprise me. We lived in his grandfather's house.

The movie, "Ani Yerushalmi," "I am a Jerusalemite" came out in 1971. We were living in the "old city" of Jerusalem, within the walls at the time. We were in Maon Betar. One evening some people came by and told us stories about the building, which had been owned by the "Kukiya" family, which owned many buildings in the city. The people told us that Yoram Gaon's grandfather had lived in the building, and they showed us which room was his.

"Ani Yerushalmi" is Mr. Gaon's movie. (I haven't seen the movie for decades, so I'm trusting my memory.) It begins by traveling the road "up to Jerusalem" while Yoram Gaon is singing about the city. He then enters the "old city" and tells us that he's off to his grandfather's house. What a thrill it was to hear him say that and know that we were living in that very same building.

Soon after, my husband got a part-time job in the Jerusalem municipality, and the old men he was working with told him a story. Yoram Gaon's father used to work there, in the same office. He was a very religious man. One time when he and one of the other workers were traveling somewhere, they passed the Hadassa Ein Kerem Hospital. The elder Gaon said: "When I die, make sure they don't take me there." He didn't trust them; he didn't want to be autopsied.

A few weeks later, the elder Gaon told his friend that he just needed to sit for a few minutes. Suddenly he was dead. His friend remembered the request and got some heart medicine from someone and put it in the dead man's desk drawer. That way they could tell the authorities that he had suffered from heart trouble, so there wouldn't be an autopsy.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War was a terrible time in Israel. The country was in danger of annihilation. Syrian forces from the North and Egyptian from the South were over-running the country. There were many dead and wounded soldiers. Celebrities from all over came to try to cheer the troops. My husband was then working in PR in Shaare Tzedek Hospital and Danny Kaye came over from Hollywood, (and he didn't get me an autograph.) I heard from a friend who said that her husband reported that Yoram Gaon came to visit the troops, but all the famous singer could do was hug the soldiers and cry.

And now Yoram Gaon is showing his love for the country for the Land of Israel by being brave and saying something that will make his "friends" angry. He's seeing the connection of the kids who demonstrated at Amona with those who established the kibbutzim before the State of Israel was restored. He's asking the question all should ask:
It would be a good idea to think long and hard about this: When the regime fights the people of Amona, who is it actually fighting? Are these youth the State of Israel's real enemy?

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