Musings from Jerusalem

Categories: Letters From Leadership

Life in Israel is anything but boring. I expect you want an update on the legal status of Israel’s President Katzav. Well, you can relax. It looks like he is not going to be charged with rape but with “involuntary sexual intercourse.” There are various theories about why this may or may not be important. But you must admit, this is interesting stuff.

The news is also buzzing about the kiss, you know, the kiss that the former Justice Minister may have forced on a female soldier (he admits doing the deed but argues that it was consensual). Again, why this man is targeted for such troubles is the topic of many theories. But the news also covers his own statement about where his tongue was when vis a vis this woman named H. Have I got your attention?

Oblivious to all of this is Emma who spent a week in Poland learning about the Polish Jewish Community and the Shoah. Immediately upon returning, she went to Gadna, the teenage training experience in the IDF (the Israeli Defence Force). She lived for five days on an army base and learned many things including very hard physical workouts and shooting an M16. When I told a shopkeeper on Ben Yehuda Street that my daughter had shot her first gun, he said “Mazel Tov.” In Israel, this appears to be akin to a life cycle event.

Both Poland and the IDF experiences conveyed to Emma the need for Israel and a strong defense. She talks of coming back to Israel and also doing more with the military. I am discouraging nothing, meaning, I am saying that any and all of this is possible. She now tells people that she has become a Zionist. Of course, we shall see what sticks and what

doesn’t. But all of this should convey to you the intensity of being a teenager in Israel

(high schoolers in Israel routinely do the Poland trip and of course, Gadna).

I continue to tour suburbs and settlements. I can’t get enough of it. A geography faculty
member took me on a day long trip to visit Tel Aviv suburbs and settlements. They are
different than Jerusalem’s or maybe they just feel different. There is such a political
intensity to Jerusalem’s land use that just doesn’t carry seem to carry over into Tel Aviv’s.

I need to think much more about this.

The headlines today are about a new study by Peace Now. They document that overall, 40% of the land on which settlements are built (not just outposts but the big government sponsored ones as well) is owned by Palestinians (you can weigh in on whether this is more interesting than the “kiss.”). What are the implications? I don’t know. Peace Now says that Israel has stolen land from the Palestinians (not a particularly new idea but an important one to document). But I wonder if the typical Israeli thinks this is important or significant.

About Ann Shlay

Ann Shlay a Professor of Urban Studies at Temple University. Ann is in Israel this semester on a Fullbright Scholarship with her 16 year old daughter and has written several interesting pieces about her adventures in Israel.
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