By: Dov Gilor
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
We rarely, if ever, speak of the fact that Israel has been good to us. I guess it is not the social norm to comment about the good and the commonplace. After 33 years of living in Israel, however, maybe the time has come to evaluate our decision of many years ago.
It is, of course, easy to find fault and to complain, but we are living in a country that is really good to its citizens. There are daily nuisances, such as the homelessness recently imported into Israel by the huge Russian immigration, high taxes that take too large a share of our earnings, the messy political climate and the fact that the Arabs (and much of the world) still hate Jews and Israel. Recent surveys, however, have shown that most residents of Israel believe that Israel is a wonderful country to live in.
To really appreciate Israel we must look at Israel with the proper perspective. The major problems of the world are much greater than Israelâ€™s. Some 30 million Americans, for example, have no health insurance coverage, crime is so common that it usually does not make the news unless it is spectacular in some way. Hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans earn less than $100 a month (and want to come to work in Israel), and half of the population of the world has never spoken on a telephone. Many millions in the world are starving or dying of minor medical ailments or AIDS because they have no medical services available to them. Israel, thank G-d, is spared these and many other of the worldâ€™s major afflictions.
We do not always appreciate what we have, but we should feel extremely fortunate. We know what a land of miracles Israel is when we realize that Israel has no natural resources (gold, oil, gas, coal or diamonds), is continuously at war with our unfriendly neighbors, which burdens us with a staggering defense budget (the largest budget per capita in the world). In addition, we have minuscule or no trade and diplomatic relations with all of the countries surrounding us. These factors alone should consign Israel to the status of a poor third-world country, yet we are considered an advanced Westernâ€“style country, and we remain one of the best countries in the world to live in.
In Israel, there are many Polish, Philippine, Chinese, Thai and Arab workers who often live in deplorable conditions, are hassled by immigration police, and receive low wages. Yet they fight tooth and nail to remain in Israel to work. The low wages and abject poverty in their home countries make Israel a Garden of Eden for them. The Philippines for example, unlike Israel, has no neighboring enemies, has almost 20 times the land that we do and abundant natural resources. Yet 45 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and many of the Philippine people would like to come to live in Israel. Israel is truly a land of miracles.
There are those who believe that it is better to live in America or Europe. That belief is based on criteria which may not be the best. Israelis do not work 16-hour days, have long commutes or find they rarely have time to play with their children. Israel does not have the dozens of murders, the hundreds of kidnappings and robberies and the thousands of muggings, rapes and violent crimes that America and Europe have. We have attacks by terrorists, which Baruch Hashem are very rare, and lots of burglaries, car stealing and white collar crime, but anti-person crimes are rare or nonexistent in Israel. We live in great communities, do not pay ten- to twenty-thousand dollar yeshiva bills, and live in the country that Hashem wants us to live in, sharing our present and our future with our people.
No one starves to death, we have excellent hospitals that are open 24 hours a day, planes and ships from all over the world land and take off each day and inflation has been reduced to almost zero percent. We wake up each day and are often unaware of the many blessings that await us. The water in the faucet will run and be clean, schools will be open, the lights will go on, the trains, taxis and buses will operate and the supermarket will have sufficient supplies at reasonable prices. Each morning we can truly say, “Modeh Ani Lâ€™fanecha.” If you do not understand that these are miracles, you have little concept of what the alternative could be. Thank G-d I live in Israel.