Friday, July 28, 2006

Israel

I grew up in a household that was very pro-Zionist. My mother's family came to Jaffa in 1904. When the first all-Jewish town was built (now Tel Aviv) the Jewish community drew lots to see who would get to live where. As I understand it they got second pick, and their house was two doors down from the "gymnasium" on what is now Herzl St. at the end of which is (was?) the Shalom Tower, known as the tallest building from the Nile to the Ganges. My grandfather was S. Benzion, for whom I am named. My late uncle (Nachum Gutman ) is probably Israel's most revered artist.
My father arrived from Austria after World War I as a "chalutz" (pioneer).
My mother came to study nutrition at Columbia University in order to go back to Palestine and be a cook on a kibbutz.
They met when they were both students at Columbia.
The Jewish settlers did indeed "make the desert bloom" --- although that notion is sometimes derided these days.
There had been some continuous Jewish settlement in Palestine (now Israel) since Biblical times. They have created one of the world's great centers of science and hi-tech. Ironically, the military spin-offs have been of great commercial value.
The Israelis, just want to be left alone. They don't want their "right to exist" challenged. They took in huge numbers of Jews from Arab countries.
The Arab nations liked the idea of keeping "refugee camps" as a symbol rather than accepting Palestinians into their vast territories.
Arab "Palestine" was an artificial creation by the Brits. They (and now the Iranians, who used be quite pro-Israeli) keep trying to drive the Jews into the sea.
It's not going to happen.

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