Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pajama Town in the Gulf War


22 January 1991. I was sitting in a sealed room wearing a gas mask on my face. and listening to the falling of Scud missiles in the adjacent city of Ramat-Gan , some fifteen minutes drive from my home. The gas mask was supposed to protect us from chemical and biological warfare agents in case Iraq's Saddam Hussein decided to use mass destruction weapons during the Gulf War.

cute,isn't it?

Most of the missiles fell on a street named Abba Hillel , nearby the Diamond Exchange Tower. It was said that Saddam Hussein's people had in mind another target in this vicinity , but they failed to launch the missiles at the right angle, and so this particular street got all the damage and casualties; scores of residents were left homeless.

Abba Hillel street

Ramat-Gan (in translation: Garden Heights), located in the very center of Israel, is associated not only with gardens but also with chocolates, soccer, and...iraqis. The city has several nicknames: Ramat-Iraq, Pajama Town, Little Baghdad, Iraqi Town - all of them relating to the fact that it has a large number of jewish residents of Iraqi origin, restaurants serving iraqi dishes and.. the common sight of iraqi men moving on the balconies of their home dressed in pajamas .

After the war, the main theme for stand-up comedies , was based on the joke that Saddam Hussein' s missiles were attracted to Ramat-Gan by ...the smell of iraqi dishes (sabiach, koube, shawarma, amba) , and the sound of iraqi music coming out from many places in the town. Anyway, it was rather ironical that Saddam Hussein's missiles had hit the place with a big concentration of his former "compatriots".


Statue of iraqi jewish prayer on Abba Hillel street

Today, this street is known for its skyscrapers in the district of the Diamond Exchange (considered the largest diamond exchange in the world) and some skyscrapers at the other extremity , near the big soccer Stadium and the Ayalon Shoping Mall. They say that in the evening the illuminated towers' area looks like Manhattan. I don't know about that as I've never been to Manhattan, but the sparkling cluster of skyscrapers does look nice at any time of the day.

skyscrapers in the Diamond Exchange complex

42 comments:

Jennifer D said...

Duta, you live in such an interesting place. I love to hear about the wonderful places you visit and the awful violence that seems to always be present. Thank you for sharing

Bica said...

DUTA, thanks for putting a face to the terrible things that have happened. I hear about it on the news, see it on the news, and realize that people lose lives, loved ones, homes and more. It's all too terrible if one follows the thought process through to the end. I don't usually do that, as I think I would live in a constant state of depression. Knowing what you and others have gone through gives me such sorrow.

Regina said...

Wearing mask is terrible. I wish and pray for peace.
Nice place and post Duta.
Happy Sunday.
xo

AngelMc said...

Very interesting, I used to work with two Indian doctors who where in Iraq during the war...they immigrated to the US soon after.

magda said...

Duta, hi
Maskis so bad !!! We need piece.
Your photos are beautiful !!!
Have a nice week

JoLynne Lyon said...

Duta, I hope the masks only collect dust, and I wonder what those Iraqi dishes taste like.

TallTchr said...

Do you suppose Saddam's former compatriots were targeted? Somehow "compatriot" doesn't sound right as I'm sure many left in fear of him.

Janie B said...

Interesting how your country is a part of so many history lessons. I wish you peace.

Lumi RO said...

DUTA, I had goose bumps reading your story. I'm happy that you do not have to wear the mask anymore!

Cheryl said...

I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to have to wear a gas mask and sit listening to missiles falling nearby. How I wish there was peace everywhere.

Margie said...

Duta, scary times when you had to wear that gas mask!
You share so much of your life and I appreciate it!
And your posts are always so interesting!
Thank you!

Shalom!

Margie :)

Lisa Petrarca said...

I can't imagine having to wear a gas mask & hide out. We are so sheltered here in America. Thank you so much for your informative and touching posts, it truly brings 'real life' truth to the things we hear on the news.

With the latest bombing that I heard about, I was worried about you, take care my friend. You and your country are in my prayers!

Trevor Woodford said...

In some ways this is quite a chilling post....I enjoy hearing about your country and your images are first class...thank you..!

-Trevor

Dimple said...

I also pray for your country and people...and I wondered the same as TallTchr, that perhaps Ramat Gan was hit purposefully.
Thanks for translating; Garden Heights brings lovely pictures to mind. And thanks for the pictures which confirm those in my mind.
Peace and blessings to you.

Lady Di Tn said...

That must have been a frightful experience. It does not surprise me of his target because from all I have read he was a known to kill his people who did not agree with him. Peace be with you.

taio said...

tare fain

Nezzy said...

Girl, you live in a country that is so very the heart of the worlds history past and future. I can't imagine the fear within as you donned the mask (although you do look quite cute there).

I pray peace upon you and your country.

God bless and have a beautiful day my sweet friend!!! :o)

DUTA said...

Jennifer D,

I believe you would want to hear about wonderful places, but not about "the awful violence".

Bica,

Sometimes, both reality and news can throw one into depression, especially here in the Middle East.

Regina,

Thanks for the wishes and prayers for Peace. May it all come true!

AngelMc,

Lucky them! As doctors they can live anywhere without the fear and violence that characterized Saddam Hussein's regime.

Magda,

Yes, masks are not the solution. Peace is the solution. I'm glad you like my photos. I'm "mad" about the photos in your posts.

JoLynne Lyon,

Iraqi dishes taste good if they are prepared carefully, and with fresh ingredients.
You could find plenty of recipes on the Web if you're interested.

DUTA said...

TallTchr,

You're perfectly right. So, after reading your comment, I put the word "compatriots" within inverted commas.

Janie B,

Unfortunately, my country is always in the news because of wars and terrorist attacks. Let us hope for Peace!

Lumi Ro,

Thank you for your kind words. I hope never again to have to wear a gas mask.

Cheryl,

In a situation like this, no imagination could match reality. I wish you never have to experience in life a thing like that.

Margie,

Scarry, indeed. I wouldn't like to go through this sort of thing again. Thanks for your kind comment.

DUTA said...

Lisa Petrarca,

Thank you for your warm words and prayers. I hope you go on feeling sheltered; no harm shall ever be done to you or your family!

Trevor Woodford,

The word 'chilling' perfectly describes the situation in those days of the Gulf War. Thanks for your words about the images in my post.

Dimple,

This town was probably attacked by mistake. The iraqis had in mind an adjacent place for their missiles. TallTchr was right about the word "compatriots", so I put it within inverted commas.

Lady Di Tn,

Frightful, indeed. Saddam Hussein was considered by all, a ruthless man ready to imprison and kill his opponents and not only opponents.
taio,

Multumesc pentru comentariu.

Nezzy,

My country is indeed as you've put it "the heart of the world's history past and future".
Thanks for your prayers and for your blessing!

Trudy Callan said...

Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog post about my pregnancy.

Vera said...

Gosh, Duta, what a difficult experience that I must have been. I can't imagine what it would be like to have missiles flying about me. You certainly bring home to me how other people live their lives, and thankyou for that.

Rahel/Rodica said...

During the Persian Gulf War, while people were confronted with a huge threat, while being deprived of the ability to actively respond, a remarkable demonstration of the power of humor was made evident by the outburst of joking. It was very useful under the high-stress circumstances
http://www.23tv.co.il/895-he/Tachi.aspx

For Hebrew speakers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqOCv9Xl9tY

Alicia said...

DUTA! You must have been so frightened. I know it scares me just to see the picture and imagine in my head what you went through my friend! Thank you for sharing your first hand knowledge of this tragic event. So many times we are sheltered by the fact we only know of these tragedies through what we see on tv, but then we meet someone that has actually been there and lived through it and it makes us realize that this is real. People and familes are being displaced and suffering. It's a sad situation.

DUTA said...

Trudy Callan,

You're welcome Trudy! I've visited your blog recently, and I can say you look terrific in your pregnancy. Hope everything 's going to be fine with you.

Vera,

I hope my post makes you somehow try and imagine how it is like to live under war and terror threats. I wish you never ever have to experience missiles or any kind of weapon.

Rahel/Rodica,

Very true. During and after the Gulf War there was a spontaneous outburst of jokes and stand-up performances regarding the war, iraqis, missiles, Saddam Hussein. It helped elevating the morale of the population.

Alicia,

Yes, I was frightened. I'm scared even now going back to the memories of that time.
Thanks Alicia for your kind words.

Cindy Lew's Studio said...

Good Morning and thanks for stopping by. I cannot imagine what your life must be like or have been like back then. I trust it is better now, but I was watching a program on a woman buying a home in Israel and she still was looking for a home that had a bomb shelter in it, so I am assuming that you still must be careful and never let your guard down. We as Americans have never had to live through such things and I trust we never do. My heart goes out to you and yours. Please keep sharing your stories because that will ensure that people understand what life could really be like and is like for many. Take Care. CindyLew

Nezzy said...

Sweetie, I have to apologize. I did not realize that the pictures on my last post were not visible to anyone else but me. Sorry. I have reposted usin' Photobucket. Hop over and take a peek if ya get a chance.

God bless and enjoy your day!!!

J_on_tour@jayzspaze said...

Very fascinating modern history. It's strange and poignant how the missiles hit the wrong target because of the angle. Must be a higher power protecting you against the devastation of the conflict. It always seems to be the innocent who suffer during war while the leaders of modern warfare all sit tightly in their bunkers ! It's always good to see the return to normality.

Stuff could always be worse said...

What a frightening time to wear gas masks! War is a sad event to live through...
kim

DUTA said...

Nezzy,

No apology needed. It could happen to any of us. I went back to your site and saw the relevant photos. Thanks for sharing.

J on tour@jayspaze,

I agree with every word of your comment. "It's always good to see the return to normality" - how very true!

Stuff could always be worse,

Hi Kim,
"frightening" and "sad" are the right terms to describe wearing gas masks and war.
Let's hope there will be no reccurrence of both.

robert said...

I think you are aware that Saddam hasn't any mass destruction weapons. Even George Bush addmited that Saddam has not any chemical or biological weapons.

Anyway your photo is nice :)

DUTA said...

Yes, I know that the coalition forces have found no mass destruction weapons in Iraq. However, it was believed (according to Intelligence reports) that Saddam did have such weapons but had sent them away to neighbouring Syria before the Gulf War started.
Thanks ,robert, for your kind remark about my photo.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Oh, Duta, I simply can't imagine what that would be like. I don't understand why there must be such terror in this world. So many people living in fear. May peace come soon to us all.

DUTA said...

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a Chummel Wilson,

It is, indeed, unimaginable. "May Peace come soon to us all" Amen.

Nel said...

Duta,
I just can't imagine what you have seen and been exposed to. We in the US take so much for granted and do not realize how lucky we are or have been. I pray for your safety my friend. Thanks for sharing.
until next time... nel

DUTA said...

Nel,

Indeed, people in the USA are lucky not to be treathened by outside factors like we are.
Thanks for your prayers, Nel.

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Oh my goodness, Duta... I never thought that 20 years ago you were undergoing such terrifying circumstances. I'm glad you are safe and that all those fearful and violent times from the past are brought up to us as a masterpiece of history.

This is a very illustrative post, dear Duta.

Doris

DUTA said...

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog,

Well, I live in a country which is always under the threat of terror or war. That's sad, but in a way we get used to this situation and find ways to live as normal as possible.
Thanks for your kind words, Doris.

Susannah said...

Wow. This piece stops me in my tracks. Sobering.

And yes, Robert, the official "party line" is that Sadaam Hussein never had any WMD. Believe that, if it makes you feel better - or if it somehow justifies further trashing of George W. Bush (as the Media are all-too-eager to do). However, I believe Duta's assessment is far closer to the truth of what really happened. Let's hope we never know for sure. And, let's thank heaven that S. Hussein is no longer an issue on our planet.

DUTA said...

Susannah,

Thanks for your interesting comment. I definitely agree with your concluding sentence : "...thanks heaven that S.Houssein is no longer an issue on our planet".

Susannah said...

You bet, Duta. Having a good weekend, I hope~

DUTA said...

Susannah,

I like it that you read and react to comments.
As for my weekend, I always try,as much as possible, to have a good one.