I had a real Washington moment yesterday. It wasn’t the high-profile meetings, nor the photo-ops with what felt like all of Israel’s leaders.
It was the walking.
My pace while in DC usually rivals that of a marathon runner, in stride. I don high heels that hopefully live up to their advertised level of astonishing comfort, and I walk. Up and down the halls of power, the US capital can seem like an endless myriad of offices along an astonishingly few blocks of real estate. I joke that I don’t see the light of day while visiting, entering a congressional building in the morning and using the network of tunnels to get — run — to meetings within the complex til way after nightfall.
And here in Jerusalem yesterday, under clear blue skies and gorgeous crisp autumn weather, I set off on my own personal marathon.
Parking the car in the morning, I joined the impressive Jewish Media Summit, hosted by the GPO and run superbly by Keshet. As I hurried past the Knesset menorah to reach the Foreign Ministry before the buses did, I realized this was just like my Washington days – keep track of the business cards, take good notes before you forget who-said-what, and, above all, rub those feet in between photo-ops. And keep going.
President Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, you name it, they came to talk with us. The personal hellos I received probably helped my professional standing in some eyes, but for me it was simply an affirmation of our little, intimate country: we are all in this together. The formidable buildings of Washington are replaced by more modest digs and the formal quality of meetings are, instead, personal and forthcoming.
We say what we think, we mean what we say, and we get on somehow, coalition and opposition, to create policies that reach across party lines and personal preferences.
After all, as we’ve heard from most everyone this week: Israel’s issues are real. We may debate with all our hearts, but we decide democratically and then come together to face the next challenges. And we pray at the same synagogue, so to speak — after all, it’s a local call.
This media conference was an opportunity to create new understanding for people who already know their trade. While the US continues to polarize its politics, Israel reiterates its own reality, as the bipartisan or really nonpartisan issue that it should be. American friends, do not get trapped in the boxes that define so many of your issues.
Let Israel break free and be one of the “problem-solving” ideas that can bridge the growing gap in your political culture. It takes guts, and a slightly advanced understanding of the details, but honest, open visits here and contact ongoing. Don’t get stuck in old slogans that bring nothing new to the challenges we face. From Gaza violence to Airbnb boycotts, you’d be surprised at just how much we agree here, across the political spectrum.
Don’t forget that, little Jerusalem. I pride myself on belonging here, in this town, glad to visit our best of friends in DC and always happy to come home, to the honesty, the intimacy and the reality of this blessed nation.
And on the way home, I just might pick up a new pair of semi-comfy heels for the next conference.