Today was predominately spent traveling to Israel, but once I got here, I remembered how much I love being here. Just seeing street signs in Hebrew---even though I can't read it---reminds me of how special it is that there's a country of people like me.
Okay, like me, but different.
But as an American Jew, I can never shake the feeling of constantly being a minority. When people advocate prayer in schools, they aren't advocating saying the Shema. When people claim that they are "saved," they mean being "saved" from beliefs like those I hold.
So being here reminds me that somewhere these debates occur involving my beliefs, that somewhere, people like me are a majority, not just a vocal minority.
And that place is here.
But the bus ride to dinner tonight was a stark reminder that Israel is no panacea. As we drove from the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to Kfar Geladi, the hotel/kibbutz on the northern border with Lebanon, we took a new toll road by "the Green Line," that area that separates Israel proper from the territories. And lining the Green Line is the security fence---a winding line of electrically charged chain-link fence and 24-foot concrete barriers constructed to keep Palestinian Arab terrorists from striking inside the Green Line.
As I looked at the Arab cities from the window of the bus, I couldn't help but think that I drive three to four times the distance between there and here on my fifteen-minute drive to work.
With a nation so small, it's no wonder Israelis always feel under siege.
Seeing for yourself how close the Palestinian Arab cities are to the Jewish areas reinforces how, in the absence of a true and lasting peace, something has to be done. Hopefully, the fence is the answer.
But as important as the fence may be for security, it stands as a constant reminder of how far we---and by "we," I mean all people---have to go. Fences and walls shouldn't have to be necessary. Good neighbors should be able to exist without them.
And, hopefully, someday they will.
Hopefully, someday we'll be able to coexist together, respecting and appreciating each other's differences, not just tolerating them. Hopefully, someday all people will be able to live together freely and equally.
But for now, the security fence stands as a reminder that that day is not today.
And this troubled land, which I love so much, shows how much progress the world still needs to achieve.
The new and improved Ben Gurion Airport:
Some blurry shots of the separation barrier:
The view of the Lebanese border from my hotel room in Kfar Geladi:
The beautiful hotel on the Kfar Geladi kibbutz: