Who you are and where you come from are two of the factors that affect what you see when you look at this country called Israel. A person from Sderot, a person from Kiryat Shmona and a person from Tel Aviv are all likely to have a different idea of what this country is, what the different threats it faces are and how to deal with everyday life.
Some people looking at Israel will see a startup nation with a seemingly endless pool of talent bringing money and invention into Israel, others will see a country with massive unemployment, where one in five children go to bed hungry every night. Some will see a military powerhouse, a regional superpower able to inflict massive damage upon its enemies. Others will see a small country of 7 million surrounded by people who want to destroy it. They’ll see existential threats on every horizon from North through the East to down South.
In fact depending in which of the above mentioned places you live the likelihood is that you will be in danger from threats posed by different enemies, save for Tel Aviv where you will feel moderately threatened by all of them.
Even as 43 whistle blowers from the army’s intelligence unit 8200 stand up and argue that their talents were being used to further an occupation rather than defend a country I wonder why it is that they thought the two were in fact distinct from one another. Perhaps it is our lot in life to be so immersed in the West Bank that to leave would be to leave the country open to threat and to stay would do the same thing.
If you’re an Israeli growing up East of the Green Line the chances are that you see defending Israel and maintaining the occupation as one and the same thing. In fact even after leaving Gaza Israel is referred to by many as occupying the Strip.
An hour’s drive from Tel Aviv to the North will take you to a place completely different to driving an hour South. From forest and green in one direction to desert in the other. From being threatened by Shi’ite Hezbollah in the North to Sunni Hamas in the other. Everything from the weather to the flora and fauna changes within mere minutes. The kind of threat also changes as does the kind of economy and indeed the kind of people you encounter.
In July the Jerusalem Post pointed out the staggering degree to which poverty affects people in Israel. This is a country with the highest rate of poverty in the developed world and with one in three children living below the poverty line what kind of future can we really offer them?
Then again, we are a country on the cutting edge of technological development, able to laugh at those who argue for a boycott of Israel in the knowledge that such a boycott would result in an inability to use most electronics and take a great many medicines available thanks only to the hard work and ingenuity of the Israelis who have invented, created, developed and gambled to make those products available and accessible. The world would be a worse place were it not for Israel and Israelis.
When people complain that the media doesn’t write about the real Israel, one wonders what on earth the real Israel actually is. In the meantime I guess those of us who are here will just have to do the best we can with what we have and what we can see.