Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Duality in Israeli Society

You'll find just about anything and anyone you're looking for in Israel from criminals and drug-dealers to Rabbis immersed in a life of giving and good deeds and scientists trying to come up with cures for the world's deadliest diseases. After a lengthy exile from the Holy Land, Jews from around the globe have gathered in Israel. Representatives of six continents make Israel their home. This is literally the ingathering of exiles; the land of immigrants. Not America--but Israel.

The result of this blend of Jews from around the world is a society saturated with inherent dualities in all its aspects. Because Jews tend to be so opinionated (it's been said that for every two Jews, there are three different sets of opinions), conflict is the modus operandi in Israel. This is the way of life here. You'll see people arguing on just about any subject. Arguments range from the petty to the extremely serious, and as is the case in any society, they can die down quietly, but sometimes get out of hand as well.

I decided to write this article having attended a party where I witnessed a young couple (I didn't know they were married till the husband told me his "companion" was indeed his wife) arguing about the rights of Israelis to smoke in public. There's no way I could have known they were married judging by the way they were going at it. Mind you, this wasn't a matter of life and death; not even politics. This was a question whose outcome isn't likely to affect the life of the young couple in any particular fashion: it won't make it better or worse in the conceivable future.

Riding buses in Jerusalem, where I've lived for the past half year, is another source of inspiration for this piece. I regularly see Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, covered from head to toe in their traditional garb, secular Jews with an array of piercings and tattoos, and Arabs who don't care one bit about the future of the State of Israel--or would simply prefer for it not to be there, going to the same place, and making conversation in the process.

We simply have to get along, or at least make a pretense of doing so in order to get anywhere. Most people aren't interested in violence. They want to quietly raise a family and make a living and need to make it safely through the day. Thus, the concept of co-existence. Israel's Jews, more than anyone else, need to learn to coexist through the political chaos that's a predominant factor of life in Israel. We need to make peace with ourselves before any kind of long-lasting peace with our neighbors can be attained. This is part and parcel of my personal thinking.

Israel is a society in the making; a relatively young country still searching for its identity. We have a little of everything here, and this is what makes life so exciting. There's none of the boredom one encounters in America, none of the "just another day" mentality. One has no way of telling what's around the corner; what fate awaits him when he wakes up. Good or bad, this is the reality in Israel.


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