God works in mysterious ways.
Israel, the Palestinians, and Manchester City.
She, who must be obeyed, said to me the other day.
“He doesn’t want us to give land to the Palestinians. Have you noticed?”
I knew who she was referring to. He - with a capital “H”. I was distracted. I was too busy watching Manchester City chase a two goal deficit on the telly, as they have been wont to do this season.
I don’t know what had gotten into her. She wasn’t watching the TV. I was doing that. She wasn’t reading the newspaper. I had trashed it after failing to complete the Sudoku. She had been brooding into space before she had disturbed by soccer frustration.
“God doesn’t want us to give our land to the Palestinians. Haven’t you noticed the signs he sent us?”
“No,” I replied, not really wanting to follow her train of thought. I was more interested in having Him throw His mercy on the team in blue.
“Rabin agrees a deal with Arafat and, out of the blue, he gets killed by an assassin. Then Arik Sharon forces thousands of Jews out of their homes in the Gaza Strip and, puff!, he suddenly gets a stroke. Not an ordinary stroke, one that leaves him in a coma but alive. It’s almost as if God wanted to preserve him as a warning to others.”
“That’s a cruel thing to say,“ I protested, watching yet another futile attempt at goal by Balotelli.
“Maybe,” she concedes, “But you have to admit it’s strange. Why them? You have to admit the timing is strange. It must be for a reason. And what about Olmert?” She was referring to Ehud, another Israeli Prime Minister.
“What about him?” Why did I ask. I should have known better. She was in full flow.
“He chased after Abbas,” the Palestinian leader, “to close a deal with the Palestinians, even though Abbas jerked around like a stuck pig because he didn’t really want one, and then suddenly he had to resign to spend years chasing after criminal charges that proved nothing against him. Don’t you find that strange? It’s more than a coincidence. God is trying to tell us something.”
By now I was doing my impression of a goldfish out of water.
“So what about Barak?” I asked referring to another Ehud. “Nobody put a hand on him and he wanted to give Arafat the kitchen sink.” I gloated, sensing victory, which was more than City was doing.
“Him?” she answered scathingly. “He’s Israel’s Mister Bean. Nobody takes him seriously. Not even God!”
That remark, and City’s lethargic play, stunned me into silence. Then she turned the attack onto me. If only City were that aggressive.
“You remember how you said that God was on our side when nobody got killed by all the Scud missiles that Saddam Hussein launched at us from Iraq, and how He kept us safe from all the Hezbollah rockets, and how CNN and BBC are so upset that so few Israelis were killed by a thousand Hamas rockets from Gaza…”
She was in full flow and, you know what, she began to make sense.
As if to prove it, Tevez blasted in a goal for City. It was a sign from above, surely?
“It’s supernatural what Israel has withstood. It’s not normal how Israel rose out of the ashes of Auschwitz. The whole thing feels like the hand of God.”
“Well,” I volunteered, “if the Arabs want to attack us in the name of Allah, it’s good to know that He is active in our defense.”
There I go again with my footballing metaphors, watching City block an Arsenal attack out of the corner of my eye.
She looked at me as if I was a moron. I tried to appease her. I am not a religious Jew, but I am a believer. One of the things that makes’ me a believer is that, despite our blundering politicians, we Israelis feel safe and confident in the future even as we are increasingly surrounded by life-threatening enemies. There has to be a divine hand that is protecting us.
Then another miracle happened. With seconds left on the clock, a long pass fell at the feet of Dzecho, a lanky misfit of a player, caught it on the bounce and smashed it into the top right corner of the net.
God does work in mysterious ways.
Barry Shaw is the author of “Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.”
Miraculously available on Amazon, Alibris, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository UK websites, from good Steimatzy bookstores, and from the author himself at www.israelnarrative.com