Sunday, September 12, 2010

"ha mora" (the teacher)

Had an interesting experience in hebrew class during our last week.  Our teacher (who is a wonderful teacher, by the way), asked our class why we came to Israel and what impressions of Israel exist in our home countries.  The general consensus was that the media in all our countries (US, Norway, Ukraine, Germany, UK, Canada) did not reflect Israel in a positive light.  Well, this really hit a nerve for her.  She came in to class the following day and spent the first half hour of class telling us how upset she was by what we had told her (can't imagine her previous classes provided different feedback).  She felt that it is not fair how the media in other countries portray Israel's political actions.  Well, who ever said the media has a monopoly on the truth?  No surprises here.  As my high school physics teacher used to tell us, "it's all relative."

What was interesting was how upsetting it was to her; how careful she feels Israel is to lead by moral example in this region, particularly from a humanitarian stand point.  She believes that Israel is grossly misunderstood.  Her identity is so closely tied to Israel that this was extremely personal for her.  I've seen this blurring of personal identity and country here much more than I have in the U.S., or in other countries.

I certainly have felt both pride and embarrassment at American news and actions, but I can't think of a time that it has interacted with my sense of self. 

It was suggested to me that a key difference is that as a smaller country, there is a stronger sense of defensiveness when feeling misunderstood than for citizens in a country that is a leading world power. 

I am curious - what impressions do you have of Israel and more importantly, why?  Where did your impressions come from?
If you're not sure, or want to learn more, I am extending an open invitation to come and decide for yourself what Israeli's are like.  We have a spare room now.


  1. South Africa went through the same process.

    2nd class citizens with no rights of free travel, no voting rights, lack of access to equal and adequate food and medical treatment for their children. separate school system. mandatory religious training in public schools

    secret production and denial of possession of weapons of mass destruction with the capability to deliver 50kilo ton MIRV'd city killers thousands of miles by ICBMs and submarines.

    testing of those same nuclear fission and fusion weapons in open air tests endangering the lives of all the people of the world long after the rest of humanity stopped open air testing. Indian Ocean, Marion Island 1979

    The murder in International waters of 34 US citizens on a mission of peace on an unarmed US Navy ship the USS Liberty in 1967 by order of the Israeli High Command

    Why should we trust such a country"

  2. My first hand experience here so far does not align with these comments. I interact with Arabs here every day. They are operating businesses of their own, celebrating with their families with beach BBQs, seeing the same doctors I am at the Tel Aviv Medical Center, and living peacefully in one of the most diverse areas I have lived in (which is saying a lot because I lived in NYC). Israel is full of immigrants from all over the world. There are large groups of Russians, Ethiopians, French, Thai, and so many more. I'm not suggesting that there is no discrimination here. There certainly is, and some of it is outright, as in most countries (i.e. Arizona in the U.S. right now).