Location: Long Beach, California, United States

We moved to Israel thinking, rather naively that it was our true home, but after many months of trying to assimilate, learn the language and seeking employment we were forced to face the TRUTH! Israel is a bit backward, they still tend to mix religion with government and they are gravely biased by the belief of the Ultra religious who make it difficult for secular, everyday Jews to get along.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Reflections on Israel

Israel, no Freedom, no Liberty, no Justice
Here in the United States yesterday was the official Birthday of our nation, nearing three hundred years the country is a youngster in the shadows of older and more established nations of the world, but she stands head and shoulders above most. Ours is a unique nation, born out of a need for religious freedom. At first we totered and stumbled our way along as most nations do, but we put forth a lot of effort right from the start to set down rules and laws that would be of benefit to all of our people, we didn't hesitate to write a constitution or Bill of Rights to ensure the freedom, liberty and justice of our people. We took in the homeless and the wretched of other countries, those suffering persecution, or lack of religious freedom and somehow the peasants of England, Spain, Portugal, Austria and many, many other countries came to America to seek a new life. The immigrants became citizens of what we now call the United States of America. When I think back to where I started my life, on the rough seas of the Atlantic Ocean on the deck of a vessel filled to over capacity with what was left of the Jews after the second world war, I smile to myself. Survival is everything! For a kid who was born with no hair, no eyelashes, no toenails or fingernails, into a family where there was no inheritance except our Judaism, I think I turned out alright, I grew up strong, proud and intelligent!
As many of you know who read this blog monthly my husband and I returned to the United States in November of last year, so this is our first fourth of July back in the old US of A. We are wiser now than when we left, we see things in a different light now! We left these shores beliving with our hearts, souls and minds that we were going to live in the place where we belonged! We had dreamed of this time for years, planned for it , for long years it was hidden away in our hearts, a desire we longed to fullfill.
It still astounishes us to think that Israel is fity years old, and she is still so unsettled! She is a country that was still born, she came about for all the right reasons, but somehow, somewhere in the construction process the ideals of those who were planning a place for Jews to live for all time were lost. She fumbles along like a crippled child, not able to stand on her own, and caught in a trap formed by Zionism and the Ultra Orthodox that will forever keep her disabled. What a shame that such a beautiful nation cannot seperate religion and state in a satisfactory fashion, how terrible that at fifty years old she still has no Bill of Rights, no Constitution. Worse are the fact that she can't support herself without aide from other countries, mostly the US. In the fourteen months that we lived there the entire country was shut down for a total of 144 days out of the possible 365 that everyone could have been working. Israeli's stop for every Shabbat, a total of 36 hours from two in the afternoon on Friday until Sunday morning at 9 AM, and for other religious holidays of 5-10 days at a time, everything must stop...the grocery, the bank, the buisnesses, the USA if we shut down that many days in a year we would be bankrupt by the middle of the 365 days!
It saddens us too that Israel is now again at war with Palestine...yes I agree they shouldn't have taken a soldier hostage, but think about it. The country of Israel has held Palestine hostage for the last 50 years, trapped inside their borders they became persona non grata for all of the mideastern world, their Arab country men didn't want to take them in, and Israel shut them out so efficiently that they became sub-human.
On a day like the fourth of July one's mind always turns to the great strides this country has made in her history. We came from a few hundred settlers to millions, we saw women become equal, blacks be given full rights which should have happened sooner than it did, we fight prejudice and bondage where ever we find it, we defend the defenceless and yes, sometimes that has meant going to war in a place far from home, but we kept growing and through it all we have become a great nation. Ours is a country where Freedom is the right of every human being within our borders. We have brought democracy to a new level, and liberty was bought at a high price for us, no one handed us a nation and said here, make it yours like NATO did for Israel!
What will it take for Israel to realize that she is becoming a nation where there is no freedom , no liberty and no right some of the founders of the modern state of Israel were, who warned the government against letting the religious become too powerful. If a country is formed for the betterment of all people of it's nationality than it must have laws that protect all Jews, not just the ultra religious or the Orthodox...if a country wants to become a light to other nations than it must defend the right of all it's citizens, even the Muslims! Christianity and Catholisim, were already well established in Palestine before Israel was made a state, the Muslims were once in the majority there as well...the largest problem of the nation that my husband and I left is inequality! Yes, Israel wants people to populate the country, but they truly do not want anyone who is anything but ultra Orthodox!
So this Fourth of July here in the US, I spent a lot of time thinking about why we didn't make it there in Israel, and unfortunately I could find only one true answer...PREJUDICE...yep, yesterday as I ate my good old American hamburger with cheese I was very grateful, not just for the food which I could eat as I pleased, but for the freedom and the liberty and yes the justice of our nation. If anyone out there reading this blog wants a reminder about truly how great it is to live in a nation where you can choose what to eat, what to wear, where you work, or what you do with your life just email me and I will give you a hundred or so reasons why this old country of ours is truly great!!
Yesterday was a great mix of sadness and expression for me, I really felt what a joy it is to live in a nation where religious freedom is assured, and in the evening when the echoes of the fireworks filtered up from the beach I felt a great wave of sadness that far away in another land there is not such freedom, there is poverty, unemployment, hatred, prejudice and war all as a result of a nation's inability to grow into a democratic state!
Today on the way to my teaching position I was listening to the grand music of the National Orchestra as played at the Ford Theater last night in celebration of the USA, and for the first time in many years I felt a swell of pride hearing the Star Spangled Banner...America the Beautiful and yes, even God Bless America...Israel is not the only country with a G-D who watches over her, and perhaps, just perhaps the Jews are not the only people upon whom God bestows blessings. Maybe if Israel were more gentle, more kind, more open to the possiblity of growth and change, maybe if those who live in the confines of the rules of centuries past, burndened by rules of Rabbis long since gone from our sight, maybe if those humans could step into the light and see that all human kind is a creation of God and that we are created equal...maybe then the world would turn its face toward Israel and we all could have PEACE!