Arriving at Ben-Gurion’s relatively new terminal, I was struck again, as I was last year, with a little bit of nostalgia for the old terminal. In the old days, when you arrived in Israel you got off the plane in the middle of nowhere and a bus shuttled you to terminal where you really got the feeling you were in a small country somewhere. Now you get off the jetway in a modern terminal that I find reminiscent of San Francisco International Airport. It’s about time Israel’s major international airport reflected Israel’s status as a powerful modern developed country…but it makes the experience of arriving here a little less special somehow.
But it doesn’t take long to be reminded that you’re not in America anymore. Driving my rental car from the airport to Jerusalem — with a Torah in the back seat (more on that in another post) I passed the wrecked trucks left by the side of the road as a monument to the War of Independence. I called my friend Marty, who I’m staying with this trip, and as we signed off he said "Welcome home!" And knowing, God willing, we are moving here next year, I smiled to myself and said, "Yes, it really is home, isn’t it?"
Speaking of home, last Shabbat as we were walking to shul my 8 year old daughter Lizzy asked "once we move to Israel will we stop moving around? I’m tired of always having to leave my friends." We have moved five times in her 8 years, so I don’t blame her for feeling dragged around. I told her "that’s the plan!"
The news reports of course make it sound like there’s a full scale war going on here…but you wouldn’t know it from daily life. I had dinner at Yo-Ja, a kosher Chinese-Thai-Sushi Bar on Emek Refaim which is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. The place was full, the streets are crowded, everything feels normal.
One of the things I enjoy about Israel is it seems much easier for me to retain my focus in my prayers. And things keep jumping out at me: like reciting Psalm 100 and saying "come to His gates with thanks, to His courtyard with praise" and I stopped as it registered I was only about a half a mile away from the site of the Temple referred to in the Psalm.
After my morning run along the Tayelet with its beautiful view of Jerusalem, especially the Old City, I had breakfast at Cafe Hillel where I had a latte and a croissant that put to shame anything you ever had at Starbucks–which is the real explanation for why Starbucks gave up on moving in to Israel. The local coffee shops are better.
The local newspapers of course are totally absorbed with coverage of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, and what’s happening in Gaza. I found it interesting that the Hebrew langauge papers seem to use stronger language about the situation than the local English language papers. Maybe Anglos expect their news to sound more objective. In the Israeli papers opinion is often put on the front page mixed in with the news.
I was reading Ma’ariv this morning at the coffee shop and was trying to figure out a Hebrew phrase which sounded like "roletah rusit" when it dawned on me that it was "Russian Roulette." The article described how Hamas and the Israeli government are playing a Middle Eastern version of Russian Roulette, which does seem like an accurate description of the situation.
Another article was headlined "Olmert and Hamas have to decide between bad and really bad." I think this is the best analysis of the situation I’ve seen. It basically said there is no good choice. As I recall here were the options:
1) The Israelis give in. Bad choice for them, will not only free terrorists, will encourage more kidnappings. And there is no guarantee Gilad is still alive anyway.
2) Hamas gives in without conditions. Bad choice for them, they will have caused a great deal of trouble to their own people for nothing and will lose a great deal of support politically.
3) An "Entebbe" scenario — Israel goes in and rescues the soldier. The only problem is it would require really good intelligence on where he is, and he and other soldiers might get killed in the process.
4) A "Ron Arad" scenario — Arad is an Israeli airman who has been missing for a very long time, with no information on his status. Hamas could choose to go this route–but they would probably pay a big price as Israel isn’t likely to just pull the troops out of Gaza until there is some information.
5) They do some kind of compromise — like Israel releases a few old prisoners who don’t have blood on their hands. Difficult choice for Israel as Olmert has already declared several times "we don’t negotiate with terrorists" and he has ignored the deadline of Hamas’ ultimatum.
I think there was a sixth option they presented which I don’t remember at the moment.
Israpundit suggests that operation "Summer Rain" could be a US plot to get Israel to destroy Hamas so that we can get back on track with the PA. I have to admit when I considered the relative lack of outcry of Israel arresting most of the Hamas government, I suspect there is some back room stuff going on that might be really surprising if it came out…
Even with the problems, it is amazing just being here. I’m now heading off to study some Talmud before driving down to Tel Aviv for lunch.
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