My Land of Israel

My Project 1 11

Being in Israel allows me to compare the knee-jerk world-newspaper editorials and internet headlines, most clearly a total distortion if not fabrication, with the reality of life in the Land of Israel. The first observation I can make is that Israelis don’t give a hoot about what is said about them – they don’t have the time to consider the armchair discourses and coffee-table opinions of the Thomas Friedmans and Tamara Quiblowis. They are busy living, working, and enjoying life, accepting their national mission, albeit for most in the spirit of Albert Camus’ adage: “I would rather live life believing there is a G-d, and die to discover otherwise, rather than to live my life as if He doesn’t exist, only to discover upon death that he does!”

Yes, Israelis live on the edge, and are at times a bit manic. In fairness, Tel Aviv drivers have to navigate the ambitious underground rail under constructions, attested to by endless detours half-road closures, narrow streets, resulting in middle eastern tempers flaring with attendant blaring horns, if not physically locking horns at tollway gates and security checkpoints. And in their defence, unlike most countries of the world, the sirens announcing the more than occasional rocket fired from nearby enemies does little to soothe the nerves of a nation at war, though professing peace, but living in peace, while in a state of war.

Couple that with a motley cadre of daily demonstrators, only a fraction of whom are at all concerned with democracy (the others, middle aged retirees and housewives with time on their hands to fill, coupled with professional demonstrators who will come out at the drop of a hat – and overseas investors I might add) who stop peak-hour traffic on the Ayalon, and have a good laugh doing so, and you have a recipe for sustainable confusion. I say sustainable because life seems to go on, skirting these daily obstacles with seeming aplomb. Of course, the Knesset continues to provide light relief featuring verbal fisticuffs and pointed barbs in a relatively empty auditorium.

Trust me, democracy is not about to give way to dictatorship. And the world won’t have the satisfaction of seeing a civil war here. Nor will the economy fail. Nor will Israelis stop being Israelis, possessing an inbuilt survival instinct beyond that of any other nation in the world. Yes, the enemy within will continue to ram cars, run down pedestrians, knife innocents at bus stops around the country, and beat the drum of annihilation.  But as the Lubavitcher Rebbe said time and time again: “The Land of Israel is the Land which G-d’s eyes are upon from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.”  

That’s my Land of Israel.