An Attempt at Israel Thoughts

As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, I just spent a fantastic four-day weekend in Israel, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The reason for the stay was to attend the wedding of the daughter of a very good friend of mine. That was an opportunity to discover one of those dreaded colonies we hear so much about, to attend my first Jewish wedding (a very moving and joyous occasion — honestly, this buttoned-up, about-to-get-married-in-a-boring-church Catholic is jealous!), to meet fantastic people, and to dance like a madman (another first: dancing with a guy wearing a sports jersey and a Beretta 9mm handgun).

It’s always very hard for me to write about Israel, where I try to go at least once a year, usually twice, because I just love this country so damn much, and what is perhaps unusual for a religious Catholic, I the country of Israel as much as the Holy Land. After my first trip already three years ago the same friend asked me to write an article about my Israel thoughts and I was unable to do it, simply because they are too incoherent, too passionate.

It’s not just the incredibly beautiful and diverse natural sights, and not just even the history, and not just the profound spiritual significance of the Holy Sites, but the country itself: Jerusalem and its craziness, Tel Aviv, its beach, its bustle, its fierce modernity (and its parties!), the dysfunctional (pray tell, what citizen thinks his country’s democracy is functional?) but rambuctious democracy, the feeling, for this Old European, to be in a New Country (and yet so ancient, of course), of pioneers, of citizen soldiers who truly built a land of milk and honey out of barren stones and fetid swamps, and the women, my God the women (I’ll stop there out of modesty and because my fiancée reads these lines)…

So I wish I could recount it to you, all my Israeli experiences (and yet there are so many I haven’t had yet), and the Palestinian experiences for that matter, the joyous and moving wedding, the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall, the simple bar encounters, the amazing things I’ve learned about Jerusalem thanks to my visit with a professor of religious history. I wish I had smart political commentary on Pope Benedict’s visit to the Holy Land or Benyamin Netanyahu’s meeting with Barack Obama.

But all I can do is encourage you to learn more about this truly unique country and visit if you can. And if you do, drop me a line.