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Roger L. Simon

Blogging from the 51st State: Day 1 — Making the Blind See

May 30th, 2013 - 9:55 pm

I arrived in Israel Thursday afternoon — I think it was Thursday, hard to tell with a ten hour difference — and almost immediately took a walk along the Tel Aviv beach to clear my brain.

It didn’t. But Sheryl, Madeleine, and I pushed on, anxious to acclimate ourselves to Israeli time. It was their fist trips to Israel and my first since 1993. I had spent most of the fifteen hour flight from L.A. reading Paul Johnson’s A History of the Jews, a fantastic book I had promised myself for years, and had images of Jeremiah and the other prophets swimming in my head. Jetlagged, I was already a prime prospect for the Jerusalem Syndrome, that peculiar problem that develops when people visit the Holy Land and start to over-identify. This seems to happen especially to agnostic types like me. If I start to sound or act messianic, just laugh or put me away.

Fortunately, we were met soon by Barry Rubin and his family who walked with us south down the boardwalk to Jaffa, passing along the way the ancient/modern Etzel Museum to the Stern Gang who fought for Israeli independence over a half a century ago, on our way to dinner at Dr. Shakshuka — a (what else?) shakshuka joint in an Ottoman courtyard.

As we walked, I queried Barry about something I had always meant to ask him, why he had made aliyah — “ascended” and moved to Israel — decades ago. I will leave it to Barry to explain his reasons, which were naturally interesting. I was really asking the question about me. Like many American Jews, I have always had a “counter life,” as Phillip Roth called it in his novel of the same name, an imaginary Israeli version of me.

I had thought about moving here in the eighties, though I doubt very seriously. I had almost no Hebrew, for one thing (have even less now), but that was the least of it. I assumed I could learn. But I am American to the core. I believe more than ever in American exceptionalism, how necessary it is for the world. Still, I am confused. Am I here or am I there?

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Top Rated Comments   
In what alternate universe? I've been to Israel, walked the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem at odd hours in complete safety, and enjoyed very good treatment every place I went.

I don't look the least bit Jewish.

I would not hesitate to take my family there.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't nomrally reply to people who post anonymously, since I don't write anonymously. But that is complete and utter nonsense. This happens to be more fourth trip to Israel and I have seen white Christian tourists being well treated on every one and next a single instance of the reverse. The last one, I was here to research a movie on the Dead Sea Scrolls, so met many evangelicals. They love it here and are extremely way treated. Have you ever been to Israel, TacticalDuck? Who are you?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Though not Jewish, I intend on visiting there some day. When my Father passed many years ago, a family friend had a tree dedicated in his memory somewhere near/in Jerusalem. Though that's the personal reason, it's a pilgrimage I think all Americans should make, because it reminds us of who we are and in particular, what we're all fighting for.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (63)
All Comments   (63)
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Thanks for the tip on Paul Johnson's book. I have read so many Jewish histories, I thought I couldn't possibly learn anything new from another one. I was wrong. Johnson's research is really something.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Since the Israelis or Jewish have an outstanding record in the field of medicine and science, Americans would do well to try to emulate them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think you need to apologize for calling Israel the 51st state. Israel would be a great addition to the union, though maybe instead of adding them as the 51st state we could do some sort of swap. Say Israel for New Jersey.

While we're at it, we could swap Poland for Illinois and Hong Kong for Oregon.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"No I am not John The Baptist or Ezekiel, he says as they take him away,I am Hosea

Hosea 3
"4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days."

How can human make peace with the universe with roaming "wildman" asteroids and lustful comets seeking to end our immortality feeling in life and whirlwinds sweeping the land and hurricanes cleaning the seashores and earthquakes and volcanoes from hades who will be our protector? if God is against us and our great tower we build how will we find peace?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm glad you were not serious about the "51st State" thing. The US could have saved itself a LOT of heartburn by not making an off-shore island a state. I guess Alaska is okay because you can drive there. Making any Latin American lands states would be a terrible mistake.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
few years ago cataracts took me to 'legally blind', before the doc said they were ripe enough to slice open my eyeball, stick in a needle(?), and draw them out. he replaced them w/ very small plastic lenses he inserted (doubled over) and released to pop out to full size inside my eye. put me to sleep to stick this huge needle somewhere around my eye, then woke me up for the actual surgery. twice, month apart. didn't hurt a bit. 20/20 (both eyes) when he had finished. my g'ma had it done when she was very old and said it made her see and feel like a young girl again. dad said when he was a kid (30's-40's) and played house to house to house around the neighborhood, just about every house had a blind person. since my parents have both also had this surgery as well, I guess our house would have had all blind people if not for this amazing eye surgery. its truly amazing the giant strides medical science has made in so many areas, and these scientists should be congratulated. hats off to u my friends.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I went to Israel in March and thought it was a wonderful place. I'm so glad I went Israel, I loved the entire experience. Floating in the dead sea was definitely a highlight, as was visiting the old city in Jerusalem. I recommend everybody go to Israel at least once.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've never been to Israel but have wanted to go for years. I worked in an Israeli nightclub in Greenwich Village in the '70s. Wonderful Middle Eastern music and food and always a joyous atmosphere. Our patrons were without exception fine lovely people and at many of the tables it was a family outing including parents, grandparents and children. I'm not Jewish but this experience made me wish I were when I saw those marvelous large families enjoying themselves together. Have a lovely visit.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Calling Israel the 51st state is a complement ... Israel is the birthplace of Messiah, Yeshua Hamashia, Jesus Christ. There is a great bond that most Americans have with Israel. It goes back in our history and to our foundation. Jesus was a Jew and He said "salvation comes from the Jews." In this 21st century with the rise of terrorism, there is one nation that we need to stand behind and besides as Americans, and that is Israel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hi Roger, if you are interested in a less well known aspect of Israel get in touch with me and I'll suggest some great hikes, or check out my website.
www.dianabarshaw.com
Hope you have a great visit in our wonderful country!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thanks. As a fellow Haifa resident, I will check it out.

What neighborhood do you live in, if I may ask?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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