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Posted at 9:25 AM ET, 02/ 6/2011

Herzliya: The 21st century Israel

By Jennifer Rubin

Herzliya, just outside Tel Aviv, is a modern, affluent seaside city. When I arrived on shabbat, the airport and roads were relatively quiet (missing, of course, were the Orthodox Jews who shuttle back and forth between New York and Israel during the week), but Herzliya is not dormant. Unlike Jerusalem, this is a relatively secularized city. A group of teenagers on motocross bikes race by on the street. Some restaurants are open. The surfers have been out for hours. It is a cross between Manhattan Beach, Calif. (beautiful beach, luxurious new houses and apartments) and Silicon Valley (a cluster of new high-tech firms occupy tall office towers built only a few years ago).

In Israel, I am reminded that although Israel is the Jewish state, one beset by enemies, it is also a "normal" country, an affluent one -- certainly in comparison to all its neighbors. From the outside, Israel seems always on razor's edge, lurching from crisis to crisis. In Israel you see it as a place where people live, work, and raise families. And yet, there are reminders. In the waiting area of a stylish seafood restaurant, an observant man, dressed casually in white jeans but with a sidearm clearly visible, watches the patrons.

And when Google search loads on the right side of the page with English and Hebrew titles, I am also reminded that Israel is unique. There is only one Jewish state. Some would prefer there be none. But Israel is thriving, to the chagrin of its foes.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 6, 2011; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Israel  | Tags:  Israel Herzliya Jewish state  
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Next: Democracy in Egypt


Jennifer, glad you are safely arrived and settled in.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 6, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

jennifer, you write "missing, of course, were the Orthodox Jews who shuttle back and forth between New York and Israel during the week"

That crack was out of order. Makes it seem like "the Orthodox Jews" are extraordinarily wealthy, flying back and forth to New York every week. Some Orthodox Jews have business or other interests that take them abroad. So do many non-Orthodox Jews.

Some Orthodox Jews are wealthy, some are poor.

This kind of remark is typical of anti-Semites and you make it (with a gratuitous "of course" thrown in) as though your own readership wouldn't include any such people.

I thought better of you. Way better.

And to your point, the airport was relatively quite because lots of israeli would rather do their business travelling on Sundays, since there isn't any business to be done abroad Sundays anyway. And the roads - what does that have to do with Orthodox Jews who may or may not be going abroad? Many traditional Jews prefer to stay home on Shabbat.

Posted by: IsraelP | February 6, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

IsraelP, I'm baffled too.

How does Ms. Rubin reconcile a remark like that with her attack on George Soros' piece the other day?

Glad to hear the surf's up, though.

Posted by: MsJS | February 6, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

From today's Post in remarks yesterday to the Christian Broadcasting Network:

"Palin said the U.S. must find out who is "behind all the turmoil" and that "we should not stand" for a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Referencing a 2008 campaign ad, Palin said Egypt was the White House's "3 a.m. phone call" but it "went right to the answering machine."

She says the U.S. must say whom it stands with, "and we do not have all that information yet."

Listeners were puzzled by Palin's reference to Mubarak as "Pharoah" and expressed her concern for the safety of "the Israelites" in Egypt during the demonstrations.

Ok this is JUST satire, so kill me if you want to. I can't say I don't deserve it. LOL

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 6, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"In Israel, I am reminded that although Israel is the Jewish state, one beset by enemies, it is also a "normal" country, an affluent one -- certainly in comparison to all its neighbors."

Rand Paul Repeats Calls to End Aid to Israel
Alana Goodman - 02.04.2011 - 1:56 PM
Sen. Rand Paul has doubled down on his call to cut foreign aid to Israel, despite the complete lack of political support for the proposal on the Hill:

"I’m not singling out Israel. I support Israel. I want to be known as a friend of Israel, but not with money you don’t have,” he said. “We can’t just borrow from our kids’ future and give it to countries, even if they are our friends.”
And, he said, giving money to the country is especially unwise considering Israel’s relative wealth. “I think they’re an important ally, but I also think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world,” he said. “Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don’t think so.”

Rand has a point,why can't we be allies without a fiscal requirement. Israel has 200 Nukes,and plenty of money to buy whatever weapons/contractors they want.Foreign aid seems like a good place to save some $s.

Posted by: rcaruth | February 6, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Israel is not "normal." Normal countries do not operate an apartheid system while colonizing their neighbors land. Normal countries don't destroy water sources,demolish houses and maim and kill their neighbors on a daily basis. Normal countries don't build barriers on their neighbors land and claim the land is now theirs. Normal countries don't hope that everyone nearby lives under authoritarian rulers so they can have their special culture. Normal countries do lie about what they are doing and that is Rubin's specialty, offering an exaggerated point of view to cover up the Israeli reality that is obvious to all normal citizens of normal countries.

Posted by: jj1123 | February 6, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

" But Israel is thriving, to the chagrin of its foes."

I take it that you therefore agree with Time Magazine Jennifer, when they reporte3d that Israel has no interest in peace, precisely because it is thriving?

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 6, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse


You won't believe this coming from me, but I actually would enjoy hearing more of your impressions of Israel this trip. It's been on my list of places to visit, but hasn't made it to the top yet.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 6, 2011 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Every Westerner who comes to Israel seems surprised at how "normal" everything seems, just like back home. Even the journalists who are hostile to Israel prefer working here because they know that they enjoy the real safety and protection that the rule of law provides them, unlike most of the Arab states and Third World countries they could report from.
The supposed security dangers and military and police presence that everybody talks about only minimally intrudes on daily life and largely only in the periphery and the border areas, in the Coastal Plain area it is very difficult for most Westerners not to not feel entirely and comfortably at home.
Our Arab enemies and their allies have created an false narrative of fearful and cowered Israelis hunkered down in bunkers with heavily armed security forces constantly patrolling our cities, but this just isn't the case as anyone who visits Israel knows.
Living in Israel of course has it's difficulties, but visiting here is usually a lot of fun.

Posted by: kenhe | February 7, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Re: "" But Israel is thriving, to the chagrin of its foes."

I take it that you therefore agree with Time Magazine Jennifer, when they reporte3d that Israel has no interest in peace, precisely because it is thriving?"

This is entirely stupid. Israel is thriving IN SPITE of the lack of peace. Hamas and Fatah continue to teach their children to kill Jews, that the only goal is to take over "Palestine", which includes every single inch of Israel, pre-and-post 1967 borders. But the Israelis have thrived because of a move away from socialism (not a perfect one, but in that direction), a motivated work force, and gosh, yes, people who want to LIVE and enjoy life and not spend the time killing or being killed.

To say, as Time mag said, that thriving was some kind of a sickness. Or, to lie and say and say that because its thriving, that it has no interest in peace?

Israel still has plenty of financial problems, which would NOT be there were they not having to spend a large amount of GDP on arms and defense. But it is a necessary evil in a place where it is surrounded by enemies.

Finally, Palestinians on the West Bank are doing better financially. And when I was in Israel recently, I saw Muslim Arabs shopping in the same malls I was in, on the "Jewish" side of Jerusalem. They were shopping unimpeded. No one hassled them, and they were sitting side-by-side with Jews in the food courts, shopping side-by-side in the stores...but I guess because they were "thriving", or at least able to walk out with bags of goods from the stores, that THEY TOO WERE NOT SEEKING TO MAKE PEACE and were part of the problem.

Posted by: Mosonny | February 7, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It makes me both hopeful because of the resilience of Israelis, and a bit melancholy too because of how much better it could be without having to fight for survival. Then there’s the tragedy that the Arabs could experience much of Israel’s success if only they’d renounce their hatred and will to destroy the Jewish state and instead work with it. Sadly, that’s never going to happen. I don’t know how the Israelis are so resilient; I don’t think that I or the American Jewish community would be so resilient in the face of so much adversity. Normality to make one proud as it’s purchased by Jewish self defense, and Normality to make one sad because self defense it’s so necessary because we know how poorly the story ends for Jews without the “observant man, dressed casually in white jeans but with a sidearm clearly visible, watch[ing] the patrons.”

Posted by: *JRapp | February 7, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

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