July 20, 2009 Reflections on a Month in Israel

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 20, 2009 Reflections on a Month in Israel

I am rapidly coming to an end of a month long stay in Israel, my longest in many years. It has been a wonderful summer and I come away with a number impressions. Israel this summer has been the most relaxed I remember it in many a years. Maybe that is a result of having been here during the last Lebanon War and throughout the Second Intifada. The fact the borders are quiet and there has been effectively no significant terrorist activity this year (within the Green Line) seems to have had a large effect. Maybe too much so, as many of the check points entering places seem perfunctory, if at all.

The Iranian threat is clearly still in the background, but the recent events in Iran seem to have blunted that threat somewhat. Are Israelis worried about the actions of the Obama administration? Some are worried, but most Israelis, even those who may have responded to a poll that Israel should stand up to Obama’s pressure over the settlements, do not really care about the settlements. They may be reluctant to give up territory that might turn into a future base for terrorist attacks, but settlements, and even the settlers themselves, are outside the day-to-day lives of most Israelis. The same goes for the latest row over the building in East Jerusalem. The overwhelming majority of Israelis believe Jerusalem should remain united and Jews should be able to live wherever they wish. However, that belief does not translate into even wishing to ever visit those “other” parts of Jerusalem, nor does it make most Israelis particularly apprehensive of the statement of the Obama administration on the subject– they really do not care all that much.

The coming weeks and months will, no doubt, be filled with many political, economic, social, religious and military news that will be analyzed in these pages. But in the meantime, as we pack our bags to leave, I reflect on the fact that with all its challenges, this summer more than any time in my recent memory, Israel just seems to be a great place to live.

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