Friday, July 18, 2008

1 Year In Life: An Israeli Story

In 2005 I made a decision that there was going to come a time in my life when I would move to Israel. I had no idea back then how I was going to do it, or what it would really be like when I did it. So now in 2008 here I am after living here for a year. This is where the honeymoon ends and the reality kicks in.

Impressions: Middle East Peace

About a month ago someone visiting Israel asked me what it was like to live here. They asked did it meet my expectations, and such. In all honesty I didn't have many expectations, but one thing I can say is that my experiences in life have definitely prepared me for living here. In order to understand what I mean you would have to read past posts on my blog and also some of the posts that I will be posting now that I am back, so to speak.

Throughout this time of being here I have seen and heard of people coming, and then leaving. People move here with the best of intentions, but this is not an easy place to live. Although this depends on what you were used to before you came. Some people can't get used to how things work here, and the mindsets that exist.

Some can't get used to the political realities that exist. For example, in the west a picture of the Middle East is painted that contradicts much of the reality. One of these is the idea that we Israelis and Arabs have very little common ground far and between, as well as the idea that we Jews are the center of this supposed conflict.

In order to explain to you what I mean, I have a bit of a story for you. A friend of mine once had a discussion with an Arab near where he lives. My friend is Jewish Israeli and the discussion he had was with an Arab Israeli. My friend said to the Arab Israeli:

"What if we Jews were to make you a deal. You Arabs stop the violence against us, give us back all of our Biblical lands promised to us in the Bible and even in your Quran."

The Arab looked at my friend with a bit of anger and angst and said, "Well, what do we get out of it? What will you Jews give us?"

My friend responded. "We Israelis i.e. Jews will cut ties with America and help you fight Western imperialism." My friend said the Arab without pause grabbed his hand and said "DEAL!"

This is in contrast to friends of mine in the US who believe that Israel needs the US to survive and that we Israelis should stick with the US. The friend mentioned in the above story has a perspective that we Jews should shrug off any connection to trying to be a Western style power in the Middle East and embrace being a native Middle Eastern Jewish Israeli entity.

Israel according to the Bible and Quran (King David's Kingdom)

The reality is most Jews came from Middle Eastern, African, and Asian countries before returning to Israel in modern history. So essentially we are a Middle Eastern people, or as some used to call us Arab Jews.

So the question becomes one of are we a Middle Eastern people or simply a western puppet in the Middle East?

More on this at a future time.

What I Have Seen

Okay, so that is the start of my politics, which I will delve into more later. So what is the latest? As I mentioned before I have been doing some traveling throughout Israel. I have really enjoyed seeing different areas of my country and meeting new and interesting people. What I find is that as small as Israel is, about the size of New Jersey, there is so much to see. I have also gotten sun burn twice, within a 2 month period. I have never had that before, but thank G-d that I have the right pigment to bounce back quickly.

Below are some of the places I have visited and the history behind them.

Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a popular tourist destination, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Golf of Eilat. Home to 55,000 people, the city is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava. The city is adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba, to the south, and the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, to the east.

Eilat's semi-arid desert climate is moderated by proximity to a warm sea. Temperatures often exceed 40 °C in summer, and 18 °C in winter, while water temperatures range between 20 and 26 °C. The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism.

Eilat is mentioned several times in the Bible, first as one of the stations of the Children of Israel after The Exodus from Egypt. King David conquered Edom, and took over Eilat as well. In Kings 2 14:21-22: "And all the people of Judah took Azariah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept among his fathers." And again in Kings 2 16:6: "At that time Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath to Aram, and drove the Jews from Elath; and the Edomites came to Elath, and dwelt there, unto this day"

Akko also known as Acre is a city in the Western Galilee area of northern Israel. It is situated on a low promontory at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Acre had a population 45,800 at the end of 2005. From ancient times, Acre was regarded as the key to the Levant because of its strategic coastal location.

Acre is probably to be identified with the Aak of the tribute-lists of Thutmose III (c. 1500 BC), and it is certainly the Akka of the Amarna letters. To the Israelites it was known as Akko, but it is mentioned only once in the Hebrew Bible, namely Judges 1:31, as one of the places from which the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanite inhabitants. Theoretically it was in the territory of the tribe of Asher, and Josephus assigns it by name to the district of one of Solomon's provincial governors. Throughout the period of Israelite domination, however, its political connections were always with Phoenicia rather than with the Philistines: thus, around 725 BC it joined Sidon and Tyre in a revolt against Shalmaneser V.

A city of approximately 50,000 located in the North District of Israel on the Mediterranean sea, just south of the Lebanese border at Rosh HaNikra. It is Israel's northernmost coastal city, and a popular tourist destination.

Over the years, due to its geographic location -- only 6 miles down the coast from Israel's border with Lebanon, Nahariya has been a frequent target both of direct cross-border terrorist attacks, as well as of indirect mortar and Katyusha rocket fire. As recently as in July-August 2006, Nahariya sustained a barrage of several hundreds of Katyusha rockets launched by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon.

Kefar Eldad
An Israeli settlement and a Communal settlement in the Gush Etzion Regional Council, south of Jerusalem. The settlement is in the vicinity of Herodion and overlooks the Judean Desert. It is named after Israel Eldad, a Lehi member and Israeli philosopher.

The population of the settlement is made up of both native born Israelis and Russian immigrants. Secular and religious people live side by side in the settlement. The settlement was established by families from the nearby Nokdim settlement, and originally served as the site of temporary housing prior to that town's construction.

More on my travels coming soon.


Miriam said...

Hi Ehav!

Great to see you blogging!

Hope all is well with you! I linked this post to my blog, it was so interesting.

take care.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Miriam,

Good to be back, thanks. I have a lot of articles that I have been storing up.

Just wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ehav!

I'm learning a lot about Israel and Judaism from you...thanks for the education. :-)

Ehav Ever said...

Hey BHC,

Clear to hear that you are learning a lot. I will continue the trend.

carolyarnelloliver said...

This was beautiful!!! This will sound so funny too you but me & Annette Wallace were friends when we were in elementry school in wichita kansas. you would probably be amazed it you see her now.....

Rachel said...

I loved that little anecdote you gave about your Jewish friend and the Arab man! :)

About American Jews and their conviction that Israel NEEDS the US- That belief always drives me crazy. I think Israel would do tons better at times if the US didn't have them on a leash, and I'm glad you're story sided with this idea.

Ehav Ever said...

carolyarnelloliver - I moved your comments to the article about Annette here. That is interesting if we are talking about the same person. I don't remember if Annette ever mentioned that she lived in Wichita, KS. When we dated she lived in Overland Park, KS.

I really hope things are going well with her.

Rachel - Yeah, I really love that story. It illustrates elements of the reality that often gets no press. Even here in Israel.

When I lived in the US I used to think differently. I used to think that Israel needed the US, but since I have been living here I see that he American influence is a problem. I also think we are going to be forced into making a choice in the future about whether we are the US's puppet in the Middle East.