First stop Israel. Having completed another successful and thoroughly enjoyable visit to the promised Land, I leave you with these observations:
· While Prime Minster Netanyahu and the Republican Party, especially it’s candidates for president, like to bang the war drums for an attack on Iran, the citizens of Israel go along with their daily lives. People running on the beach, restaurants packed, pubs are lively, and the traffic could choke a Targaryen dragon.
· I will never complain about traffic anywhere, after witnessing the crazy bumper to bumper snarls heading into Tel Aviv from all directions every morning. Pure mishegas.
· It’s good to be the king, or at least a government minister. A semi-serious joke going around the country is the reason why war is not imminent with Iran is because Madonna is scheduled to kick her world tour off in Tel Aviv on May 28th. And because Sara Netanyahu, Bibi’s wife, is a big fan and friend to the pop star, the PM will not do anything to jeopardize that conference. So yes, it appears that the Prime minister of Israel fears his wife more than Iran’s Ayatollah and it’s President Ahmadinejad.
· Not be outdone by Bibi, his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman , ordered the loud speakers from a Jaffa mosque to be relocated because the five daily calls to prayer from the Abu Sayaf family’s mosque’s muezzin were disturbing his mother-in-law and her neighbor Ludmila Cherkov. Religious freedom, but please keep it down.
· I saw my first ‘Better Place’ battery changing center and purpose built Renault Fluence this week also. Better Place is the brain child of Shai Agassi, the former SAP director, who via the sponsorship and endorsement of Israel’s President Shimon Peres and the vision of Nissan/Renault Chairman Carols Ghosn, are committed to wean Israel off fossil fuel powered motor vehicles. The battery changing centers, based on the defense forces bomb loading and unloading systems, will change an electric car’s battery in three minutes. Home charging systems will also be installed that are tied into the nation’s energy smart grid to monitor power consumption and to charge during the least expensive, least demanding periods. Yes, that is visionary.
· I also ate my first Shawarma and Shakshuka on this visit. Both were delicious and a nice change of pace from usual restaurant dining.
· Barry Rubin is blaming President Obama for the Arab Spring, claiming is speech in Cairo in 2009 is what motivated the unrest. Are you for real? The Jerusalem Post continues to lose its remaining credibility by publishing this imbalanced fiction. Firstly, you cannot blame President Obama for the spreading of democracy in the region if you have already given credit to President Bush for doing the same thing. Rubin also draws comparisons to President Obama’s handling of the Egyptian revolution and overthrow of Dictator Hosni Mubarak to President Carter’s handling of the Iranian revolution in 1979. Rubin misses the point, the comparisons that need to be made are the United States’ continued practice of propping up pro-USA hegemonies at the expense of the local citizens and then we wonder why anti-American sentiments boil to the surface. Further, the Arab Spring was born out of the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, after he could no longer stand the disrespect form the local authorities. Finally, one cannot claim to be pro-Democracy and then complain when the vote does not yield the result you were hoping for as were the cases in Gaza, Iraq, and now Egypt. How arrogant are we? We push these nations to democracy but only if we get a preferred result that is in concert with our national interests.
Another great week in Israel comes to an end. I look forward to the next trip. In the meantime it’s great to be back in the USA, where we are far from perfect, but there is no place I’d rather live.