Monday, October 17, 2011

My quick visit to the Embassy of Israel

In conjunction with Reel Affirmations 20, I visited the Embassy of Israel this evening, at Van Ness St. and International Ave.  True, there are no electronics at all allowed (so no direct photography), and when you go through security you walk into an outdoor courtyard that from which you then go to a meeting room.  (I’ll do the movie review tomorrow.)   One can park at the University of the District of Columbia garage on Van Ness for $8.  

But the Embassy had a lot of  take-home literature to offer, emphasizing the progressive and open nature of its society. The government has a president in charge of everything, and a prime minister, and a unicameral legislator, so it is probably less partisan than ours.  (That would please CNN's Fareed Zakaria, as he talks about partisanship on his "Global Public Square".)  The offered free literature has a pamphlet called “Letter from Israel” with a picture of “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel” (1948).

It was pointed out that Israel has allowed gays to serve openly in its military since 1993 (after some period of being expected to “live at home” as was discussed in the 1993 Rand report, which considered Israel rather progressive and possibly helpful to Clinton’s plan to lift the ban in the US), and has equal rights for LGBT couples.  Well, not quite, if you read the Wikipedia article, or this one.True, Israel honors gay marriages performed abroad.

But the important aspect of life in Israel is the national socialization, which everyone how emigrates there must accept. Military service is usually compulsory. There can be considerable pressure to live in the controversial settlements.  One probably does not want live there if one does not accept the idea that group expropriation of the rights of others (Palestinians on the West Bank) is necessary for security. The conservative idea of living under a “shared vision” passed along through family can be tried by those living there.

From my knowledge, I pretty much share Jimmy Carter’s criticism of “Palestinian apartheid” (Books blog, Dec. 25, 2007).   I can remember when working in NYC in the 1970s that coworkers with Jewish background at NBC would say, “give the Palestinians their homeland and we can have some peace.”  And then they would say, they weren’t supposed to be quoted saying that.  The two-state solution has been discussed again recently, and to me it makes a lot of sense.

In the spring of 1982, MCC Dallas sponsored a trip to Israel. I did not have the vacation time to go, but people who did go reported conversations in which they were told "every adult citizen of Israel is a soldier."

Wikipedia attribution link for Temple Mount picture, similar (but not as wide-ranged) to picture in auditorium

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