Israel at 70 is country of contradictions. It boasts to be a Silicon Valley of the Middle East, yet travel a few kilometers from Tel Aviv and you will witness real poverty and homelessness. It is western but Middle Eastern, it is Meditteranean but with a tribal mentality. It is young at heart but as ancient as the bible. It really is not a cliche to say Israel is unique.
If Israel is 70 years old, I can say that I have seen half of the country’s history unravel.Israel was a very different country when I made the move from Woodside Park in England in 1988. Then there were no mobile phones, just “assimonim” or phone coins. Speaking to family in the UK would cost seven shekel a minute.
The Jewish agency will never tell you before making aliya, that your children will be Israeli. No school ties, no please or thank you and certainly no ability to wait in line.
Israel has matured. It is much abrasive and perhaps too dismissive of world opinion. It has lost the lack of confidence and is often deaf to advice offered by friends. Israel has lost the innocence of earlier years.
The real threat to Israel today is not from Iran and not from Syria. It is the risk of losing support from world Jewry. When women are not allowed to pray at western wall equally and Netanyahu supports Trump, many Jews from around the world are turning their backs on Israel.
Life here lends itself to the absurd.
I came to a standstill recently driving near the Dead Sea when a camel stopped in the road, stubbornly blocking both lanes. A while later, a Bedouin man came and quickly moved his camel, but he did not see me waiting. Why? Because he was so busy speaking on his smartphone.
This is Israel at 70. An ancient land struggling with the moral challenges of modernity. A land where democracy is not natural yet continues despite the challenges it faces from the government.
It is a country that I love, but not always like. It is a country whose diaspora family does not approve of its outlandish ways but continues to grow and prosper despite all of its challenges. It a country that cannot escape its past but is enriched by it.
Israel really is my home.