Dateline: Tel Aviv
Although I am a good statistician and survey researcher, there is no need for sampling theory to fathom the current state of the Israeli people. This is the case of a jury where the first show of hands on the major trial issue is unanimous – discussions only remain about lesser charges.
Israeli’s have a consensus: green grass is the metaphor.
It started when a grass roots group of people in towns and farms in Northern Israel began building fences to keep Palestinians out. The fence grew slowly, mile by mile, until it became government policy. The government fence is still moving at a slow but steady pace as the politics of the precise route is worked out.
Israeli writers are now talking about the large and rising number of Israeli’s who have family picnics on the grass in the ubiquitous parks. The family picnic is nearly everywhere I look. The fence (wall) is already built in the Israeli mind.
The U.S. and international press talk about the absence of any Palestinian to negotiate with: Arafat is corrupt and two faced. But the reality is that there would be no Israeli left to negotiate with today. Israel is nearly unanimous in the view that the door to Palestine is shut, locked and the key has been thrown away. Palestinians are gone from the Israeli mind.
The new mood of Israel is reflected in the experience of the head of the social science department (whom I interviewed, yesterday) at the leading university. A few prominent Left professors are leaving for positions in Europe. The pile of incoming applications for departmental positions, from outstanding Israeli professors around the world, seeking a position in an Israeli university, is large and growing.
The mood in the streets of Tel Aviv, despite a severe three-year recession that is just now ending, is upbeat. People smile, they are courteous in the extreme, and walk gingerly. The music in lobbies, stores, coffee shops and on buses is upbeat. The sound is 1960s Beach Boys. Yesterday I heard several songs by the Mamas and the Papas. On a bus from Jerusalem with soldiers, business people and a few people in religious dress, the passengers spontaneously sang along with one popular Israeli song, when it came on the radio. People dance in large crowds at the boardwalk on the beach near my hotel and occasionally I see people dance in front of stores with music playing.
That is Israel today. Come and see for yourself.