OPINION: A Pesach to remember, but it’s for all the wrong reasons

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

OPINION: A Pesach to remember, but it’s for all the wrong reasons

The only thing predictable about Israel these days is its total unpredictably, writes Jenni Frazer in Tel Aviv for Jewish News

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Protesters carry a banner portraying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as pharoah, reading 'Let my people go,' in Tel Aviv. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum, Haaretz
Protesters carry a banner portraying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as pharoah, reading 'Let my people go,' in Tel Aviv. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum, Haaretz

Dinner on Friday night at our Tel Aviv hotel, where we were staying for Pesach, was an absolute zoo. There must have been easily 500 – 600 people, all trying to eat at once and catch the eye of the harassed waiters and waitresses.

Languages from everywhere and nowhere could be heard: a group of Sephardim led what sounded like a football chant on one side of the vast dining hall.

The atmosphere was relaxed and jolly: the sound was of the diaspora enjoying itself. Yes, there was renewed tension on the Temple Mount, but that was Jerusalem. Here in Tel Aviv, all was calm.

Within an hour, all that changed. Some people went out to walk off their massive meal. They would have been gently strolling across the Tayelet, the seafront promenade along the city coastline, home to runners, cyclists and dog-walkers from day to night.

Jenni Frazer

From our room, suddenly, we heard what sounded like fireworks. Improbable, I said, though in Tel Aviv it’s always better to expect the unexpected. But soon there was the wail of police and ambulance sirens, as a terrorist incident played itself out in real time across the street from our balcony.

An Israeli Arab drove at a group of people walking on the Tayelet, killing one young Italian man and injuring seven more, some of whom — though this is purely incidental — are British tourists.

Earlier in the day the news had filtered through of the murder of two British-born sisters in a terrorist attack on the West Bank.

Not fireworks, but gunshots. The would-be killer — for let us not mince words, that is what he was trying to do — is said to have taken out a rifle from his car before veering on to the grassed area that skirts the beach.

Though all other traces of the attack have been removed, the tyre tracks which his car gouged into the grass are still visible.

Around 40 separate police cars drew up in and around the petrol station on the main road. Soon the TV cameras and the reporters showed up. It’s become a sadly well-known and practiced scenario, in which everyone knows his or her part. The Israeli Arab was “neutralised”— cop-speak for ‘shot dead’.

Since my daily round more generally figures somewhat pedestrian activities, rather than crazed shooters, there was an element of surrealism about the whole dreadful event. And yet Tel Aviv — like Israel as a whole — took the attack in its stride.

On Saturday night after Shabbat, crowds of thousands gathered in cities all over Israel to make the point, for the third month running, of their anxiety and antipathy to the proposed “reforms” put forward by the Netanyahu government.

For the Tel Aviv protesters there was an extra piquancy to their event. It began with a minute’s silence and a giant poster featuring Netanyahu as Pharaoh, with the appropriately Pesach slogan ‘Let My People Go’.

Many commentators have already laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Netanyahu government, describing its leader as “Crime Minister”.

In this new administration’s short time in office, one thing is true — its achievements are few to recount, while the glories of the “Start-Up Nation” appear to have been lost in a welter of international condemnation over the shambolic extremist coalition.

None of this helps the family of Alessandro Parisi, whose memory should be for a blessing.

Nor does it help the Dee family, bereaved of two daughters and a mother.

This certainly is a Pesach to remember.

  • Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: