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Leaving Home
by Judy Lash Balint
April 25, 2002

Leaving Israel is always difficult, but especially in these days of upheaval and uncertainty, it's especially hard.

I thought twice about whether to cancel the book tour that will mean that I'm away from Jerusalem for almost three weeks. In the end, I decided to go ahead, since I believe that it's important for Israelis to go on the road to tell the story behind the headlines.

Today, the headlines are full of the economic burden we're all being asked to bear in order to pay for Operation Defensive Shield. VAT tax has gone up 1 percent to 18 percent. Gas and cigarettes had extra taxes slapped on them, and a host of other cuts are up for Knesset debate. Predictably, the Histadrut has called for a general strike, and some members of Knesset are strongly opposed to one provision or other.

The only military items in the news are the continuous attempts by Arabs to infiltrate Jewish communities in Gush Katif, and the ongoing madness at the Church in Bethlehem. Hopefully, these items will be but a bad rmemory by the time I return.

Many friends who have served time in the reserves are dribbling back home--with extraordinary stories to tell.

I look forward to meeting many Jerusalem Diaries readers on my travels, and resuming the first hand reports from Israel upon my return.

Judy in Jerusalem