A Dose of Israeli Reality

A Dose of Israeli Reality

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.


On a hot June night when the daytime temperature was over 90 degrees for the third or fourth consecutive day, the bars and cafes of Jerusalem are overflowing with people as sport addicts and friends from all over the city gathered at their favorite watering holes to watch the Euro Cup Football matches. It is even reported that haredi men and Yeshiva students are spotted watching in the streets around some of the huge flat screen televisions set up everywhere; and this is for a game between Portugal and Holland!  Perhaps this small observation explains the most about the climate at the moment in Israel.

This experience was not in Tel Aviv, it was primarily young people (post-army), and it was not strictly enjoyed by secular Israelis. The mood in Israel is hardly anxious or focused on the world around them. Israelis are concentrating on the mundane things in their life; their job, education, mortgage, family, and personal happiness; yet there is no impression of a pre-1973 cockiness.

There is a sense of an overwhelming belief that they will lives, do what they must, and move ahead.  They appear to be neither panicked nor obliviousness, not selfish nor carefree, about the events around them. Israelis are just focused on their own personal world which they can control. While we will consider various aspects of this non-scientific analysis in the forthcoming posts, it is well to consider first why this appears to be the current prevailing condition.  

Israelis know that they are not players directly involved in the tragic continuing slaughter in Syria. The international financial crisis is far beyond their control. The results of the Egyptian election and the dissolution of the Egyptian Parliament are important for the maintenance of peace with Egypt, but there is nothing Israel can do about it. Israel would like the standoff with Iran to disappear but, while they are resigned to the possibility that they may be involved in a forthcoming attack on Iran, they do not cancel their summer plans or their summer vacations.

I have yet to speak with a single average Israeli who has pushed the anxiety button.  This does not appear to be a function of the tough sabra mentality; rather it is a stoicism that is being manifested. Israelis are not worried about matters over which they clearly believe they have no control. They do not feel overwhelmed, just determined.  They are enjoying football with their friends.

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