As in the American West, the Arab Spring has brought its own fire season. It seems Egypt is burning up and Syria is burning down while the Iraqi’s are setting fire to each other. The exception to these endless blazes appears to be Israel. Let’s take a second look at Jerusalem and see if we can see any smoke.
There’s an old saying: two Jews– three opinions. With the many differences between Ashkenazis and Sephardic branches of Judaism, you could expect more than a few verbal disagreements. Religious opinions vary so widely that you find Jews who don’t believe in God but claim Israel citizenship standing next to Orthodox rabbis at a bus stop. The real worry might be a Palestinian terrorist waiting to blow everyone up when the bus comes. Surely, the Jews must be walking around terrified.
They are not.
On my last trip to Israel, I ate supper with an executive in the government’s department of tourism and we discussed the possibility of groups taking a four-day hike from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee, walking through the back country exactly where Jesus walked. Some of the stops would be in Arab villages. No one expressed concern or fear.
The biggest commotion inside the country is new laws that demand Israel’s ultra-Orthodox young men to serve in the army and be pulled away from their Torah studies. The hard-liners in the Haredim community are fighting back by ostracizing their young men who join the military. They denounce the young men as traitors and say they are a “pestilence.” The soldiers are not only verbally abused, but are spit at or have rocks thrown at them. For most Americans, it is hard to understand how devout religious people who disagree could us such degrading tactics, but that’s not the case in Israel. The commotion in Jerusalem is significant.
And the rest of the country?
Generally, no one talks about the Palestinian and Arab struggles on Israel’s border. The wide range of women’s dress run from miniskirts to the ultra-Orthodox ankle length dresses. Customs and opinions vary, but no one has much of anything to say about the Palestinians. Israelis recognize how complex the political situation is with the Arab world. Most have come to the conclusion that they can’t fix it, but they can manage it. So, ignore that tension the Palestinians create and go on down the road. For most Israelis, life has never been richer, safer, and more dynamic than it now is. Terrorism has been walled out and they go happily on their way regardless of Syria blowing apart.
The American Secretary of State John Kerry keeps popping up and Prime Minister Netanyahu continues his double talk about negotiating with the Palestinian Authority. The average citizen only half listens to Kerry’s urgings for formal discussions.
The possibility of Israel-Arab peace talks are out of sight and no one cares. In this so-called time of the Arab Spring, the promise of a relaxing and enjoyable summer seems to exist only inside the borders of Israel.
What can I say? The Israelis have moved on and find life to be good. End of story.