On Friday, I'd spent quite a long time online looking for an article that I could have sworn I'd read in the NY Times this year about Americans' perceptions of Israel (I can hear my gf in my head saying, "isn't that EVERY article in the NY Times?"). In this particular article, the writer juxtaposed the Israel of the 1960s, the one many people of my generation grew up with, with the Israel of today. What we grew up hearing about was a collective paradise of kibbutzniks doing Israeli dancing, raising children together, transforming the desert into an agricultural paradise, and providing all citizens with education, health care, and other social services. New Jewish immigrants would be welcomed with open arms and put through an assimilation process where they would learn how to become Israelis, very different from how the Jews (and the Italians and the Irish, etc.) were dumped on the docks of Manhattan after the brutality of Ellis Island, many with empty pockets, at the mercy of whatever huckster greeted them with promises of housing and a job, squeezed into "cold water flats" as my parents called them, working day and night in sweat shops.
The article I read (unless it was a hallucination and I would welcome anyone to find this article and send me the link) contrasted the view of that former Israel with the present Israel, where there is a growing economic disparity between rich and poor, where the kibbutz is more or less marginalized, and where socialism is on the wane. This is now a land that has built a wall around itself (both literally and figuratively), that imports foreign labor to take jobs its citizens don't want (and Palestinians can no longer get to) but then won't legitimize those foreigners, and that has become an occupier in a situation that is looking less and less temporary. Concurrently, it is a country that is still a refuge for a people who have not had one for centuries, that despite all its flaws is still a democracy, that exalts learning and literature so that its writers are as celebrated as its rock stars, and that has a burgeoning technology sector responsible for many groundbreaking discoveries and innovations. Except for the prominence of the writers, it is starting to sound more and more like the US. You might ask, "is that a bad thing?" or "is that such a bad thing?"
Two Jews, three opinions.
Almost time to pack the clothes, the books and all my assumptions for the trip.