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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Israel, The Cup is More Than Half Full

Yes, I do have my complaints, but that doesn't mean that I don't consider Israel to be the best place for me and all Jews to live in.  Nothing's perfect and that includes Israel. 

And even though I consider Shiloh the greatest place to live with the most wonderful neighbors, I'm guilty of complaining about it, too.  That's human nature.  We're all kvetches, but don't take the ranting all that seriously.

We all need to improve, and that includes yours truly.

Here's some upbeat stuff from blogs and news sites.  Let's start with my dear fellow jblogger, Lady-Light on Tikkun Olam.  We haven't yet met f2f, though we've gotten as close as a phone call.  She listed some of the "only in Israel" help her daughter has been receiving.  Here's an example:
2) Does the manager of HomeCenter (a store similar to Home Depot in the States, but much smaller and with less stock and fewer departments) greet you by name with a big "how are you, haven't seen you in a while, and is everything all right?" -and then tell you not to worry about paying for a mishloach* of all that stuff (folding chairs, bbq grill, garden hose, etc.), because he is going to deliver the stuff to your door, in his personal car, when he leaves work today. And he did.
3) Does a total stranger-a random cab driver, while driving you to your doctor's appointment, decide to 'adopt' you as his daughter after you and he converse about your story and life in general. From that point on, he becomes a surrogate father, taking you in his cab to many of your appointments, calling you every other day to find out how you are, bringing you vegetables every Friday for Shabbat, and spending 3 hours putting up your new bamboo sheeting to cover your chain-link fence. And refusing payment.
Caroline Glick, who established Latma, wrote of how things are improving in Israel in her Post-Zionism is So 1990's.

To understand the distance Israel has traveled since then, consider Tuesday night's Memorial Day ceremony at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. None of the performers attacked their fellow Israelis. And the best-received artist and song was Mosh Ben-Ari and his rendition of Psalm 121 - A Song of Ascent.
The psalm, which praises God as the eternal guardian of Israel, became the unofficial anthem of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2008-2009. And Ben-Ari's rendition of the song propelled the dreadlock bedecked, hoop earring wearing world music artist into super-stardom in Israel.
IT WAS impossible to imagine Pslam 121 or any other traditional Jewish poem or prayer being performed as anything other than an object of scorn in 1998. Back then, it would have been impossible to contemplate a crowd of tens of thousands of non-religious Israelis reverently singing along as Ben-Ari crooned, "My help is from God/ Maker of Heaven and Earth/ He will not allow your foot to falter/ Your Guardian will not slumber/ Behold he neither slumbers nor sleeps - the Guardian of Israel."
It's not that the crowd would have necessarily booed him off the stage. He simply never would have been allowed on the stage to begin with. The 1990s was the decade that launched Aviv Gefen, the most prominent secular draft-dodger, to stardom.
Israel is no longer in the throes of an adolescent rebellion. It has regained its senses.

And Ruthie Blum's latest op-ed, Israel and its necrophiliac neighbors, she compares Israel with our dangerous and violent neighbors, yes, those incapable of true peace. She ends by saying:
According to the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, two new laws are under consideration by the new Egyptian parliament. One of these would lower the age at which a girl can be married to 14. The other would permit a husband to have sexual relations with his wife’s corpse for up to six hours after she is pronounced dead...
...Personally, I feel no sympathy for the feminists in Egypt. They were part and parcel of the Tahrir Square demonstrations demanding Mubarak’s ouster, even while being molested and segregated by their male “Arab Spring” counterparts. Some “Facebook Revolution” that turned out to be.
Now back to Israel, where Facebook has been the vehicle through which we have been showing off the steaks we grilled yesterday, with chocolate-stained children in tow and husbands hamming it up for iPhone photos. Necrophilia is something we don’t even know how to spell, let alone debate in the Knesset.
We may have our share of woes. But considering the way a growing proportion of the world lives, we’ve got plenty to be happy about.
Yes, Ruthie, that's the truth.  Comparing life here to the rest of the world, even those "advanced" countries Israel does come out ahead in many ways. 

I've been reading about all the proposals for "affordable" health care in the United States, and none of them is as good as what we have in Israel.  The basic health care package your choice of sick funds must provide to all is excellent.  In Israel the payment is through the Bituach Leumi, National Insurance, like America's Social Security.  Working citizens under retirement age pay it from their salaries, even if they only work very part-time.  The unemployed have the payments covered through their special benefits.  All children are covered from birth.  It is possible to pay extra for extra services, but that doesn't mean that the basic package isn't superior to what is available in most other countries.

There are a number of choices in public education from "secular" to various levels of "religious."  And the Arabs have a state system, too.  There are also private schools for those who aren't happy with the state schools.  Not every country provides such a variety of education options.

And why don't you check out Benji Lovitt's 64 things he loves about Israel.  Here's a small sample:
1. I love how someone can be completely indifferent to politics but will still argue about their favorite chumus place until they blow an artery.
5. I love that because we were unable to get home due to the Jerusalem marathon, we agreed that our driver would drop us off somewhere else, take our luggage to his home in Ma’ale Adumim, and deliver it to us later, with not a fear in the world that it wouldn’t go exactly as planned. The guy got out of his car to bring the bag all the way to my door. Now that’s service.
6. I love how the worker at Bank Leumi decided she could call me “motek” after knowing me for all of 2.4 seconds.
11. I love that the Asian sushi chef gave me the rega hand gesture. Ech omrim “kibbutz galuyot” in Japanese?
12. I love that they don’t sell any of that “not kosher for Passover” matza crap here. Who the hell eats that? That’s like taking medicine labeled “Insulin: not suitable for diabetics”.
17. I love that you can discover at a Shabbat dinner that three different women share the same gynecologist. I couldn’t decide whether to be impressed or uncomfortable.
18. I love that certain stores advertise their dependability by claiming to be open “24/6”.
32. I love that during a massive delay in the re-ticketing line at Ben-Gurion, the airport staff passed out croissants and beverages.
33. I love that the salad bar in the airport’s pre-security atrium actually chops up fresh vegetables before your very eyes. The last time I saw that in an American airport, Elvis and the mashiach had just hugged me goodbye at curbside check-in.
Yes, the cup is more than half full, and it never empties, no matter how much I drink kvetch.


Benji Lovitt said...

Chag sameach! It's a good time to be in Israel! : )

Batya said...

Thanks, Benji, we're here almost 41 years, and it has always been a "good time."

Lady-Light said...

HOLY TOMATOES!! I just read your post and fell off my chair when I saw that you linked my blog--thank you!
I was inspired by Benji's list and Ephraim Kishon's list (and that was not chronological) and felt that I had to write my own.

And so sorry--I got SO excited when I saw you linked me that I forgot to read the rest of your post, so going back to do so now (and I guess you can't really say "agvaniyot k'doshot" in Ivrit; it's just not funny...)

Batya said...

LL, you're in good company here.

goyisherebbe said...

The necrophilia thing about Egypt is said to be a hoax. Check it out. It sounds bogus.

Batya said...

I'll have to let Ruthie know about that.