About Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel,” Ari
Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to
join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two
sets of eyes: Bussel’s on the ground, Zager’s counter-point from
home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two
countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point
- counter-point” presentation that has, since 2008, become part
of our lives.
Absurdity of Existence
War: Outside the Walls of the Temple Mount
Holy War: The Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount
Delegitimization from Within
Slaughter of Israel
Would Stand By Israel
Well Coordinated Attack
& Speak Out
Bunch These Jewish People
They Burned Books
Indicators of Our Time
Candles of Darkness
December 1, 2009
Palestine, Stand Proud Israel
for Israel, But Why?
Blaming the Messenger
for Our Country, Fighting for our Lives
The Absurdity of Existence
July 27, 2010
It is hot and humid in Israel, the atmosphere pressures all those in this land.
Better days are in store and fall will arrive, clouds will fly in from the
Mediterranean inland toward Jordan, the temperatures will drop and life will
look good once again.
Midday on Friday, the country closes down for the Shabbat. In Tel Aviv, young
people converge on a bar. Once inside darkness engulfs young men and women with
balloons flying overhead. People are smoking and everyone seems to be holding a
glass. It is a tasting event of "exciting new products on the Israeli market.”
For young people in Tel Aviv before the one-day weekend, this is an escape from
the heat into a world of "let us get to know one another.” They are beautiful
and sexy, sparks are in the air and life is enchanting. Bars are big business,
so is drinking. So much so that the government this week passed legislation
prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages between 11 P.M. and 6 A.M.
The Prime Minister, who initiated the legislation said, "Drunkenness is a
plague and we will fight it.” This dominated the front pages of the major
Israeli newspapers for apparently the spreading phenomenon of youth drinking has
become a major concern here. Driving while intoxicated results in loss of life.
But drunkenness also leads to violence, so rampant today among both young adults
and Israeli youth.
It is often said that Israelis live in a pressure cooker. I would agree that the
climate is harsh and unwelcoming, as evidenced by the air conditioning units
seen outside every apartment and house. But Israel’s predicament of having
hostile neighbors can no longer be used as an excuse for creating such a
First, a majority of Israeli youth does not serve in the military, be it because
they are ultra-orthodox (Haredi), religious young women, Arabs, or just
mainstream youth that views service as unnecessary, a burden and a nuisance.
Second, the relatively few dedicated individuals who do fulfill their obligation
to the country and pay their debt, no longer serve exorbitant lengths of time
every year in reserve duty ("Miluim”). In fact, even the length of mandatory
service has shrunk. Miluim is still a burden (much like Jury Duty in the
States), but it is much more manageable than in the past.
Third, Israel is no longer on a six-day but five-day workweek.
Fourth, salaries are low relative to the cost of living, yet there is
entitlement to semi-socialized medicine, unemployment and retirement benefits.
Everyone in Israel is covered by the equivalent of Social Security.
Unions and associated benefits are so strong in Israel that it is impossible to
escape their power. Workers of the national electric company, for example, along
with their extended families and others receive free electricity. When one sees
a home with an air conditioning unit that is always on, or lights that are never
turned off, it is a safe bet that the person does not pay for the prohibitively
expensive electricity. Numerous other examples have become the norm, not an
Much as in other government entities, the main and sole concern are benefits to,
ego of or the future success of the individual, not the entity being served: the
consumer, taxpayer, citizen or the country.
Salaries are low, but everyone vacations overseas multiple times a year.
Restaurants and bars are full of diners and stores overflow with shoppers,
spending money. Somehow, everyone manages to live quite well.
Fifth, there may be problems in public diplomacy, a Goldstone Report, a Turkish
Terrorist Flotilla of Lies, a UN resolution condemning Israel for one thing on
Monday and another on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
There are refugees throughout the Arab world awaiting return here because Israel
prevents them from coming back to "their” homes, and another two million
refugees are under a so-called "siege” and naval blockade in Gaza.
Rockets are being fired from the South and missiles being amassed in the North.
A sovereign calls for the elimination of Israel and is actively engaged in a
race to produce the atomic bombs necessary to ensure this objective.
American Jewry is about to be separated from the Jews in Israel by a new
Conversion legislation. And a very long list of other items of interest (current
and pending) that appear to be of little interest to the Israelis beyond,
possibly, a headline here or there.
All in all, life is very good in Israel. There are those with extraordinary
amounts of money. New high rises in Tel Aviv, potentially imitating the skyline
of Manhattan, beautiful beaches and even more beautiful people, tourists in ever
increasing numbers and businesses even the most advanced industrialized
countries in the world would be proud to entertain.
In light of these facts past excuses for a pressure cooker existence simply do
not hold any more or are conveniently ignored by Israelis. It is indeed a great
blessing to be living the comforts of the moment, for tomorrow may wipe the
smiles off Israeli faces and replace the conviction that today’s euphoria is
everlasting with the harsh grim of reality.
Israelis will be forced to return, once again, to their pioneering spirit, an
ability to do more, do it better, innovate and excel. Most importantly, create
good for the world, serve as the light unto the nations as they have been for
millennia. Something good will emerge from the impending storm approaching this
Drinking, violence and corruption are just symptoms. To resolve the problems
associated with these phenomena, one must get to the root cause. All else must
be filed under the absurdity of living on the eastern shores of the