On May 16th, 1948, the state of Israel was born. In people’s life this is an age when a person could reflect back on his/her life, consider the personal accomplishments and plans how to lead the rest of his life. I don’t have to look far to make this comparison, my brother, who is 7 years older than me, is 68 and I always remember his birthday in connection with that of the state of Israel.
The first years of my brother were the years of austerity when to deal with the shortages, the Israeli government instituted a system of rationing. To buy most rationed items, my parents, along with the rest of the adult population, had to register at chosen shops, and were provided with a ration book. The shopkeepers were supplied with enough food only for registered customers.
Those were difficult years, and it was a struggle for parents to provide for their families. My mother told me that our neighbor, normally an even tempered gentleman, slapped his son once, in frustration since the little one refused to eat chicken liver and threw the plate on the floor. She didn’t tell the story in order to disparage the father, but to demonstrate the level of exasperation of most parents at that time.
I don’t believe that they were traumatized by the times of austerity, my parents were young, and besides, at that point almost everyone else was as poor. I know that my father refused to buy anything on the black market, and even those who bought special food illegally usually consumed it quietly at home.
Still the time of austerity affected the rest of my parents’ life and they never took for granted the good times which followed. They taught us to finish everything on our plate, literally and metaphorically. They were frugal and raised us not to be greedy or wasteful. I believe that the values which we learnt at home influenced my brother’s choice to spend his career in public television, and mine to become a college teacher.
Thinking of the age of Israel, another name comes to mind, a man who is only a year younger than our state. The prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born in Israel in 1949. Although, like my brother, he was born at the time of the austerity, he spent the rest of his life compensating himself for the hardship of those early years.
I have to ask myself what are the values that Netanyahu learnt at home, as he grew up to be callous to the suffering of the poor and the disadvantaged, and thinks nothing of leading an extravagant lifestyle at the expense of the state of Israel and the tax payers.
Other Israelis who are Bibi’s age only get 2000 NIS as their social security allowance. Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, each, spend double that amount on take-out food from restaurants
Today on May 16th 2016, 68 years after the birth of the state of Israel, I am curious to know what does our prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu consider as his personal accomplishments, but worse, I worry what kind of legacy he plans to leave behind.