A number of bloggers have been linking to this super series of journal entries from Jay Nordlinger about his recent trip to Israel. There's just too much meaty stuff to quote, so please try to find the time to read the whole thing.
I was particularly struck, though, by this telling anecdote from the first installment, which departs from the subject of Israel itself momentarily to dwell on a different problem:
Meet one more person, before signing off for today â€” Raphael Israeli, a professor at Hebrew U. He is a specialist on the Arab world, and on the Chinese â€” a broadly educated man, holding various degrees, speaking various languages. Born in Fez, he came to Israel at 14.
He is whimsical on the subject of expertise. He knew a once-famous Japanologist at Berkeley. This fellow was scheduled to give a lecture on Dec. 8, 1941, titled "Why Japan Won't Make War Against the U.S." (or something like that). He did not show up that Monday morning. Asking why, his audience was told, "He has joined the State Department as an adviser."
And then, back on topic, this from the end of the last segment:
Finally, I want to return to Metullah. At the dinner, I met a friendly couple â€” the parents of our host, the apple grower. (In fact, the father is an apple grower too â€” it is a family business.) The father doesn't speak much English, but his wife told me about his family. He was born in Germany. His mother had four children. All of her children â€” all four â€” were taken from her and murdered. Her husband, too, was taken from her and murdered. Her mother and father were murdered. Her grandmother was murdered before her very eyes.
She herself survived a camp.
Let me run through the tally again: all four children; husband; mother and father; grandmother (before her eyes).
How do you go on from that? How can you possibly bear to live? Think of that, next time you consider yourself unlucky â€” think of that woman, and her four children, and her husband, and her parents, and her grandmother. And then think that she was not all that extraordinary.
Anyway, this woman married someone. She was about 40. She met a man who wanted to marry her, and they did. They had three sons â€” one born in Germany, the next two in Israel. All of them married. They had two children each. So that woman had six grandchildren. And she lived to a relatively advanced age.
This is how I think of Israel: a determination to live, in spite of the worst. A refusal to surrender to death. A refusal to succumb to evil. A decision to live. To keep living. To choose life, not death. To go on.
[This blogger can think of nothing to add to that]