The Heart of Israel

Wendy Levenfeld

This is the final column in the series about my recent trip to Israel. Visit my website for the previous five columns.

In 1995 Drew and I took our children to the Middle East wanting them to see that the world is a complex place with many cultures totally different than ours and yet filled with glorious splendor.

We saw the magnificence of the sites in Egypt, the awe inspiring ruins of Petra and Jerash in Jordan, and in Israel, besides seeing the awe-inspiring wonders of that ancient, holy country; we went on archeological digs, kayaked down the Jordan river and rode horses in the Golan Heights all the way up near the Syrian border.

It hurts my heart to know that we couldn’t do many of those things today that gave us such pleasure back then.

Terrorist attacks and the failed “Arab Spring” in Egypt have reduced their tourism industry to almost zero and the mass influx of Syrian refugees, among an already overflowing refugee population in Jordan, has led to a huge reduction in their tourism income as well.

The world’s attention span seems so limited. Once leading news reports every day, the Syrian refugee crisis is now all but forgotten but certainly not resolved. There is one thing I learned in Israel that I thought about which you might like to hear.

Did you know that the Israeli’s have established a hospital on their side of the Syrian border to treat their neighbor’s sick and injured in this latest struggle with their government? I’ll bet you didn’t know that Israel is always among the first nations to offer humanitarian assistance and medical help to wherever a natural disaster or a human-made disaster occurs, anywhere in the world including Arab countries…those same Arab countries that continually insist that they will destroy Israel and run all Jews into the sea.

The world hears only that Israel is an occupier, a conqueror threatening the existence of its Arab neighbors and yet they have never called for the destruction of any of its neighbors, never pressured for an overthrow of another government or threatened the Islamic faith. To the contrary, Islam is allowed (as are all religions) to be practiced freely in Israel.

Israel condemns any discrimination against religion, women and all other minorities. And yet the “liberal world” supports the cause of the Palestinians, sending billions of dollars in aid which is then used by their leaders to fortify their munitions and build tunnels in the hope of infiltrating and destroying Israel.

If Israel wanted its Arab neighbors’ land, they have had the means to take it for decades. Israel wants not war but the ability to be left in peace and security. It simply wants to be left alone.

While Hamas builds tunnels aimed at destroying Israeli life and Hezbollah threatens devastating missile attacks, Israel builds hospitals and offers assistance to save lives, even the lives of those that have vowed to destroy them. While there is no tolerance in Sharia Law for women’s’ rights, the rights of those practicing other religions or most any other personal right that we take for granted; in Israel all human rights are supported and accepted.

This is my final column relating what I saw and heard on my most recent trip to Israel. While I have always admitted that I do not agree with everything Israel does or what its leaders say, I hope in my own small way to let others know a bit of the “heart” of the country which is so often maligned by the international media.

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