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Max Roytenberg: My Second Sabbath In Israel

Max Roytenberg, Dec 12, 2012

This week we did a little traveling, venturing out from our apartment in The German Colony where we had gone everyday into the bustle of Emek Refayim, shops and restaurants and cars and crowds the markets overflowing with delicious produce of every color, flavor and savor. and the restaurants overflowing with customers of every age, size and color.We had had the joy of shopping abandon in Jerusalem's Machaneh Yehuda, and now we were off to see other markets.

We cabbed it to the bus terminal with a veteran cabbie who provided a running commentary on every street and building, name-dropping the famous and notorious, ancients and moderns. We were taking the 947 to Haifa but we were getting out at Netanya where we were overnighting with a friend from Ireland.. If Jerusalem was the mind and spirit of Israel we were rushing into the area which was the beating heart of the State. The bus was crowded, almost every seat taken, and as usual we were carrying too much. Too many were soldiers, young men and women, some with heavy packs, some with automatic rifles. I found it all very reassuring.

Once descended from the high ground of the capital, away from the contention of building restrictions, outside, as we travelled through the highly peopled landscape, what was the most striking was the sight of dozens of cranes pushing buildings up against the sky everywhere we looked. The country is bursting at the seams with both residential and commercial construction.

Netanya was a dream of sun, sea, and sky that even the occasional shower did not dampen. It's miles of beach were sparsely peopled in this winter month, while we found the temperature delightful in our shirtsleeves, dipping our toes in the ocean. The sand was smooth as silk and very fine. In our building facing the ocean where we spent the evening with friends there was no sound of the pounding surf behind the breakers that had been constructed since our last visit.In Raannana where we visited next the building and construction was even more intense.

Meanwhile the newspapers were full of the tumultuous events of the day. The UN had granted non-member observer status to the Palestinians sloughing over the breaches of the Oslo Accords that this action entailed. Although a foregone conclusion, the betrayal of Israel by the European democracies was in full view, as was their complaisance with the encouragement they were giving to such behavior in their reaction to the measures taken by Israel in the face of Palestinian intransigence. Netanyahu tried his best to explain Israel's position as state after state belabored Israel's ambassadors.My pride in my Canadian citizenship continued to be fanned by that country's steadfastness in Israel's defense.

Israel's pre-election posturing by the parties contesting a January election did not hide the evidence that the Israel public seems to have lost faith in the center left promises of peace with Palestinians if only the public would agree to further sacrifices of security like the surrender of Gaza. There was general unhapppiness that a ground effort to end the the Iran-fostered terrorism from that enclave had been abandoned for a cease-fire. The knowledge that Iran would re-arm Hamas with little action by Egypt to prevent this, and the presence of many thousands of Iranian missiles in reserve in the hands of Hizbullah in Lebanon, has turned the population toward the likelihood of a right-wing coalition Israel government in the New Year. The Iranian nuclear potential is raising the temperature toward a boiling point that, together with the realities around Israel just described, seem to portend the likelihood of more violence in the region in the coming months. The only bright spots have been the general recognition of Israel's right and obligation to defend its citizen's and the effectiveness of the anti-missile batteries rapidly being put into place to protect Israel's population centers. Another year to prepare is not likely to be available.. Syrian and Egyptian disarray notwithstanding, Israel's security position remains of great concern.

Islamists continue to make advances in the Arab world. The growing divide between the economic interests of Sunni and Shia in the Islamic world continue to ensure internal strife. It is too early for the rapid advances in Western energy independence to seriously impact this dynamic.

Shabbat Shalom to all,



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