Sunday, July 23, 2006



If anybody's still here, waiting for me to write something meaningful, I apologize. Much as I'd like to write about the goings-on in Israel while I'm here, frankly I've been too busy trying to see people and places, and unwilling to take time aside to comment on the daily news.

I've also been a bit too deeply involved, emotionally, in the issue of whether to stay, and how long. Our vacation in Israel was intended to be three and a half weeks; but some of our relatives back home have been pleading, with increasing urgency, that we leave Israel at once. With great reluctance, we've decided to cut our Israeli vacation short -- we'll be leaving tomorrow -- and spend the rest of our planned vacation in Italy. (We have our reasons for not simply returning home early. For one, we're here on a home exchange; the people who normally live here are currently staying in our house. And why should they have to cut short their vacation?)

Perhaps I can write more objectively about this later. I can understand the concerns and anxieties of some of my relatives, who don't have the ties to Israel that we do and mostly know the overwhelming alarmism they read in the press. And, Lord knows, I most emphatically don't want to put my wife, or my stepdaughters, in physical danger.

And yet. Where does one draw the line? Would I refuse to take them skiing, for example, because of the risk that someone (me, most likely) would break a leg? Should I?

Every parent works on the concept of acceptable risk. Children can't be protected from all risks, nor would we want to try; children must eventually grow up, and they must be prepared to face life's risks on their own. But we are responsible for the children under our care, to protect them as best we can; we judge what risks are acceptable to us, and which are risks requiring protection.

And, of course, different people have different ideas about what an acceptable risk is. I've read about parents that take toddlers sky-diving with them; the thought makes me shudder. On the other hand, visiting Israel right now seems to frighten some people.

Not everyone, I should add. While the Katyusha rockets continue falling in the north, and the Israel Defense Forces continue to pursue the terrorists and punish them wherever they can be found, Israel is seeing -- remarkably -- not just tourists, but immigrants. Planeloads of new immigrants, from the United States, France, and elsewhere, have been arriving over the past week. My hat's off to them; they are an inspiration to us all.

Anyway, perhaps I'll be able to write up some of my thoughts and experiences later. It's been a good trip so far, in spite of wars and rumors of war. I met some old friends, and
some new ones as well; we found time to see some really great sites after all; and I got to steep myself in the atmosphere of Israel once more.

There are problems in Israel, to be sure. But it's a wonderful country, and it's just so good to be here.


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