In a speech at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session Rivlin warned that growing internal Israeli divisions pose the greatest threat to the nation’s future. “Victory in the battle between us means losing the war of existence,” Rivlin said. “It’s a greater threat than nuclear bombs or terrorism greater than the enemies who seek our destruction. The threat of internal division will always be the greatest threat of all.” Times of Israel
Let’s just get this out there. We have a pretty incredible President. This role in Israel is mainly ceremonial, but from the high seat he is sitting on, President Rivlin seems to have the best view of what’s really transpiring in the State of Israel. And it’s not a pretty picture.
When we moved to Israel from Canada in 1978, Israel was still Israel. A beautiful untouched rural type of place. In the town that I grew up in here called Ra’annana, people wore sandals and walked around to get where they were going. There were no malls, no fast-food chains, and no major brands here yet. We met at the fountain in the center of town in the evenings to socialize and actually talk to one another.
There were no cell phones of course. What am I talking about?! There were not even regular phone lines in those days in new areas like ours. My parents had to manage their affairs in Quebec from a payphone down the street from our apartment for seven years. There was a big bag of tokens and a flashlight involved, and at very strange hours.
There were only a few movies you could go watch at the movie theater, and there was only one television channel. Whenever some new fad came along or we needed something that was readily available everywhere in North America, we had to wait for someone to fly abroad to buy it for us.
There was traditional Israeli folk dancing every day in school at recess. Kids would stop whatever they were doing and form huge circles while the music was blasted over the school PA system. It was cool to be part of this and everyone participated. The kids in school loved hearing us foreigners speak, and loved learning about things that they didn’t realize existed yet.
Throughout the entire process and right up until today four decades later, I still take full advantage of my “foreigner” status in Israel. What does that mean? People who come to Israel from what we call “developed” countries are never treated like everyone else. We are always at an advantage because Israelis look up to us for our worldliness (for lack of a better word), and especially our native English.
In those days, to Sabras (Jews born in Israel), we somehow appeared to be more advanced compared to the simple way they grew up in Israel. And when I say simple, I’m talking about the Sabras who fought in the Jewish resistance movements such as the Palmach. Most of the kids at my school were Sabras who were part of the Israeli version of Scouts, what they called national youth movements where kids spent most of their free time learning life skills together. That was followed by universal participation in military service for both sexes.
It was following the Yom Kippur War in the 1970s that major social and political changes took place. The strong Israel Sabra image was weakened by the influx of immigrants and the penetration of Western culture, and primarily the American culture. As the big malls, fast-food chains, American entertainment and major brands penetrated this special little land, you could feel everything that is truly unique about Israelis being tossed aside for this better lifestyle.
But are we really better off now than before the ‘70s when Israelis were thrilled to have some peace and quiet for a few months and food on the table?
We used to be like a big family looking out for one another from the great big world outside, but when Jews from all over the world (including myself) brought ideals that were foreign to the foundation of the State of Israel, the fabric of Israeli society began to fray. This has been going on for the last 45 years and is now reaching its peak in 2018. So yes, we are very close to tearing our beautiful blue and white flag and everything it represents.
One can only wonder what it will take to jolt us out of this American Dream we think we are living in, and knock us back to reality.
Prime Minister Netanyahu was quoted at this event saying, ‘Israel has succeeded even when rest of the world has failed’. Mr. Netanyahu, I hope you will go back and read the speech I wrote for you, and understand that the rest of the world is failing because of us. The rest of the world has been thrown into chaos because all we are interested in these days is our monetary value.
I am a top high tech consultant in Israel, and helped create some of our greatest technology success stories over the years. But we have something far more valuable to offer the world beyond technology that the world truly needs from us.
What do you think is the basis for our unproportional success in the high tech arena? That same DNA that makes Jewish people better at bonding and collaborating together. That same wonderful attribute that was cultivated in Israeli high schools, youth movements, and especially in the military. That amazing Israeliness that is not really cultivated anywhere today like it used to be. We need to bring it back. We need to do this for our own sustainability and the sustainability of the entire world.