We arrived here in Israel yesterday after an uneventful flight that included a return trip to the Madrid airport.
Shira, Rami and four of their five children met us and instantly showered us with incredible hospitality, giving us gifts, taking us out to dinner and driving us to the apartment they have rented for us in Neve Tzedek, a funky, up-and-coming, if occasionally sketchy neighborhood.
This morning I also finished Martin Gilbert’s Israel: A History. The enormously prolific Gilbert, who was a Churchill biographer before branching out into Holocaust and Israel scholarship, has written a very useful summary of the century from the late 1890s to the 1990s-a period that saw Theodore Herzl’s vision become reality and the first half-century of Israel’s existence.
The book opens with Herzl and ends shortly after Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination-an event that occurred close to where we are staying. Gilbert is undoubtedly in favor of a Jewish state, and he does not back away either from identifying how Israel has in many ways betrayed whatever claims of being a republic of virtue it might once have had, or from noting how the country’s devastating victory in the 1967 Six Day War helped create the conditions for a lot of its subsequent problems.
Here are a couple of shots from dinner and Shalom Shabazi street, where we are staying.