Welcome to my first post on this new blog- The Wizard of .il.
I am an American-born Israeli Jew, I think it’s important we get that out on the table before we start. For the past year, I’ve written a relatively successful blog on current affairs in Israel, in Hebrew. In it, I’ve given my take of the events occuring in Israel and elswhere that I felt were important for the Israeli reader.
My relatives in the US, not being Hebrew speakers, have made their dissapointment clear to me, about their not being able to read my blog, and after a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided, being the Wizard of .il (.il being the suffix to Israeli websites), to grant their wish. So this blog is firstly for you, but not only.
Israel is getting some pretty bad publicity these days, for many reasons. Israel is at conflict with its neighbors and always has been. From the day Israel was founded on May 14th 1948, we’ve been waging a defensive war for Israel’s existence. This war has taken different forms and names- the War of Independence (1948), the Six Day War (1967), the Yom-Kippur war (1973), the 1st and 2nd Lebannon wars (1982, 2006), etc., but they are all part of a larger campaign by our neighbors, who in the 64 years of our renewed existence have not made peace with the idea of a Jewish state in the middle of the Islamic, Arab Middle East. In conflict, each side attempts to prove to the world why he is right and his opponent is wrong. Israelis realized the importance of world opinion after it had already been conquered by the other side. Citizens of many countries believe a lot of preposterous things about Israelis. Last year, for instance, a large Swedish newspaper actually printed a story claiming that Israeli soldiers collect Palestinian organs in order to sell them on the black market.
Israel has bad publicity because of internal conflict, as well. Contrary to the rest of the world, in Israel, the main issue that has devided “rightwing” and “leftwing” voters for the past decades is not the socio-economic issue, but rather diplomatic and security issues. The left is more dovish and sympathetic to Palestinian claims, while the right is more hawkish and conservative. The left was in power continuously from before the state was founded in 1948 and until 1977. In the 9th elections for the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) the rightwing Likud party won the elections for the first time ever. Since then, Israeli politics have been a stalemate between right and left, with each side wresting power from the other in turn. In the last elections, which took place in 2008, the right, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, won a slightly more decisive victory and have been attempting to implement rightwing policy. The left, however, holds control over most of the Israeli media as well as the supreme court. The result is something akin to taking the dirty laundry out to dry on the street: The left has panicked and is trying to dig up as much dirt on Israel as possible in order to make world opinion force the right’s hand into complying with the left’s policies.
And thirdly, of course, is the media. The media reports what’s trendy. They report conflict and violence, because peace just doesn’t sell newspapers, not to speak of complicated ideas about issues that are largely unknown overseas. So when, slightly over ten years ago, I went shopping with my grandparents and my grandfather boastfully told the saleslady that “these are my grandchildren, they’re from Israel”, her response was “You can’t possibly be going back there, can you?”. The conflict, which is just a small part of Israel’s ID, is what is most widely known about it.
My aim, in this blog, is to paint a clearer picture of Israel for my overseas readers, a picture that shows the issues that occupy the Israeli public sphere.
This blog will not be a translation of my Hebrew posts, although I might feature similar posts in both. But writing to an Israeli audience is not the same as writing to an overseas one, and I realize that I will have to explain things that might seem obvious to the Israeli reader who lives in my reality. In this respect, please feel free to leave a comment if something I wrote took fore-knowledge for granted and is unclear.
I hope that, through this blog, I’ll be able to give my readers a better understanding about what Israel is about. I hope to show that Israel is not just about the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather a remarkable country, with remarkable people who have remarkable dreams and do remarkable things. I invite you to join me and discover the magic of .il.
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