Saturday, January 14, 2012

Desert Hike - Ein Avdat

Dear Citizens of the World!

After a heavy subject in my last post, I have decided to turn towards the brighter side of living in Israel as an expat... Escaping from Tel Aviv on weekends and seeing the country.

This weekend was rainy and cold in TA... perfect time to drive down to the Negev desert and go for a hike.

We chose to go down to the area where the first Prime Minister of Israel started a Kibutz after his first stint in office. Our destination was an oasis at the end of a narrow canyon called En Avdat or... depending on the spelling, Ein Avdat.

This shady oasis in the desert guarantees pictures of wildlife. There are plenty of birds for bird watchers.

If you want to go... the link for the GPX file is below.

Happy trails!

-The United Statesian.

Israel at War -- Outlook

Dear Citizens of the World!

The outlook is bleak!

Israel is at war, but not with another country. It is at war with its own brand of extremism.

Many believe that the Arab Spring will unleash the extremists in the Arab world, long held down by dictators, causing Israel to be more at danger. Thus far, this has not been the trend. I personally believe that the Arab Spring will be a positive thing for the region and Israel.

The threat, as I see it, comes more from a homegrown extremism. Although small, it is quite vocal.

Being Jewish is more a race than a religion. Only about 20 percent of Jewish Israelis consider themselves religious. And, the extremists are only about one percent of that 20 percent.

That one percent of the 20 percent gets many of the headlines inside...and outside of Israel.,7340,L-4162611,00.html

The 0ne-percent have many privileged here in Israel. Most do not work or do the three-year mandatory military service. They are paid to study the Tora. Many people I have met here have admitted that the can not stand the one percent and feel quite cheated.

Now, the one percent increasingly wants to impose their beliefs on the rest of Israel... to the point that they have kosher public buses, kosher electricity, etc.

Part of the 20 percent waiting for a flight in Ben Gurion Airport

To deal with this issue, the idea of "Ghettos" reminiscent of WWII has been floated around to create ultra-orthodox zones... which have been met by more protests.

Israel is stuck with a tough problem. Do they let the extremists keep pushing for laws and actions that cause friction and get bad press? Or, do they "oppress" those extremists in hope that they will get better press that shows the truly democratic/Shining light for the rest of the region to follow?

Unfortunately, the extremists are becoming more extreme... at the same time that Israel's majority is growing more secular. This is compounded by many outside pressures. The internal extremist pressure must be dealt with first.... only then can the will of the many push for a positive, long-term peace.

As Obama mentioned in last years address on this issue... Peace can not wait forever and time is not on Israel's side.

Who will win this war? The one percent? Or the many?

-The United Statesian