Thoughts on Israel and why „The Start-Up Nation“ is next on my reading list
Once again, I have returned from an Israel-trip feeling deeply connected to this tiny little place in the middle of this neverending crisis called the Middle East.
In recent years I suffered from a growing fruststration with the Jewish State. In the 1990s I ran around the streets of Germany telling everyone I was half-Israeli and about to move back soon. That self-labeling (half-Israeli) was entirely untrue for a Jewish German, but in the years between Oslo and Rabin´s assassination there was this feeling that the Kingdom of David was soon to be rebuilt as a true light onto the nations. Even after 911 and the growing threat of international Jihadism I thought that Israel did not choose the situation it was constantly in, but was a mere victim of the circumstances. That impression changed slowly as I participated in more and more Israel trips as a Journalist, visiting Ramallah and Hebron, and actually learning that Israelis suffer from the same brainswashing as their neighbors, just a little bit less bloody due to the Western influence. And when the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Yishai government took office in 2009 there was a severe danger that the relationship status would switch from „complicated“ into „none“.
With this feeling I arrived at Ben Gurion Airport last week, with nothing left of the Exodus-Movie-like Zionism I grew up with. Nothing? Of course not. How could a nice Jewish boy whose mother used to sing „Erev Shel Shoshanim“ for him every night, ever drop that bond? But what once was a fire was reduced to a small flame. I turned from a Moses-Jew into a Ben-Stiller-Jew.
And don´t get me wrong, it was not that everything changed immediately after arrival last week – once again the country proved to be a collection of terribly driving and loud dumbasses, who don´t even have the inner peace and strength to wait in line at a bus stop, always running around stressed with no bigger fear than someone thinking of them as a „frayer“ (victim). Still, my love for the country received a major renewal. All good love stories contain some mysteries. No matchmaker would ever suggest someone like me to meet someone like „Israel“, even if both had rich parents. The mystery in this relationship lies exactly in the confusion I feel about the fact that this country actually works. It is against all logic. I don´t get it. How is it possible that this country is not only still existing, but even flourishing? While pretty much all countries that surround it are racist and soon-islamistic dictatorships, where a blood and honor culture holds all innovation down and large parts of the population are not seen as citizens, this tiny country Israel provides high potentials with the means to stunning innovation. A country, which is hated by large parts of the world, who believe that it is actually Israel, and not its neighbors, who is a major violator of human rights. Of course, the fact that there are among the most creative people of the world running around between Haifa and Tel Aviv doesn´t make their foreign minister Lieberman less retarded, but it showed me that there is a secret to unveil, which is hopefully deeper than the pessimists assumption that Israel is only creative because it is under a constant threat. In Jerusalem I had the chance to discuss this with a fascinating man called Saul Singer, author of „Israel – The Start-Up Nation“. From what I´ve understood one of the major reasons is the refusal of Israelis to waste time. Maybe it is best described by the words sung by Leonard Cohen in „Anthem“: „Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.“
So, my dear readers, please join in with me and put this book on your reading list, I have the gut feeling that especially us ever-complaining Europeans can learn a lot from it.