WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT ISRAEL?

by Steven Plaut

Israeli Independence Day is just behind us. We spend so much time on the mindless self-destructive insane side of Israel that we may tend to forget the positive aspects of life in Israel. And there are ever so many of those.

Here is a small list of some of my favorite things about life in Israel:

1. Israel is the only country in the world where people can read the Bible and understand it.

2. Israel is the only country in the world where, if someone calls you a "dirty Jew", it means you need a bath (old Efraim Kishon quip, but still good).

3. Israel is the only country in the world where formal dress means a new clean Tee Shirt, sandals and jeans.

4. Israel is the only country in the world where one need not check the ingredients on the products in the supermarket to avoid ending up with things containing pork.

5. Israel is a country where the same drivers who cuss you and flip you the bird will immediately pull over and offer you all forms of help if you look like you need it.

6. Israel is the only country in the world with Avihu Medina, Zohar Argov, and Daklon (godfathers of "Oriental Music").

7. Israel is the only country in the world with bus drivers and taxi drivers who read Spinoza and Maimonides.

8. Israel is the only country in the world where you dare not gossip about other people on the bus in Mandarin, Russian, Hindi, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Polish, or Romanian lest others on the bus understand what you are saying.

9. Israel is the only country in the world with northern European standards of living and southern European weather. It is the only place on earth with an Israeli spring, the most glorious time of year on the planet.

10. Israel is the only country in the world where no one cares what rules say when an important goal can be achieved by bending them.

11. Israel is the only country in the world where a pisher like me can once in a while get invited to give a talk at the parliament, or can get in to speak to a cabinet minister.

12. Israel is the only country in the world where reservists are bossed around and commanded by officers, male and female, younger than their own children.

13. Israel is the only country in the world with Eli Yatzpen (comedian).

14. Israel is the only country in the world where "small talk" consists of loud angry debate over politics and religion.

15. Israel is the only country in the world with Jerusalem, even if Israeli leftists would like to turn it over to the barbarians.

16. Israel is the only country in the world where the coffee is already so good that Starbucks went bankrupt trying to break into the local market.

17. Israel is the only country in the world where the mothers learn their mother tongue from their children (old Efraim Kishon quip but still good).

18. Israel is the only country in the world where the people understand Israeli humor.

19. Israel is the only country in the world where the news is broadcast over the loudspeakers on buses, where people listen to news updates every half hour, or whose people are capable of locating Bosnia on a map of the world.

20. Israel is one of the few places in the world where the sun sets into the Mediterranean Sea.

21. Israel is the only country in the world where, when people say the "modern later era", they are referring to the time of Jesus.

22. Israel is the only country in the world whose soldiers eat three salads a day, none of which contain any lettuce, and where olives are a food and even a main course in a meal, rather than something one tosses into a martini.

23. Israel is the only country in the world where one is unlikely to be able to dig a cellar without hitting ancient archeological artifacts.

24. Israel is the only country in the world where the leading writers in the country take buses.

25. Israel is the only country in the world where the graffiti is in Hebrew.

26. Israel is the only country in the world where the black folks walking around all wear yarmulkes.

27. Israel is the only country in the world that has a national book week, where almost everyone attends and buys books.

28. Israel is the only country in the world where the ultra-Orthodox Jews beat up the police and not the other way around.

29. Israel is the only country in the world where inviting someone "out for a drink" means drinking cola or coffee.

30. Israel is the only country in the world where people who want to go up in an elevator push the down button because they think this makes the elevator come down to get them

31. Israel is the only country in the world with white almond blossoms in January, purple "Judas Tree" blossoms in March, and crocus flowers in October.

32. Israel is the only country in the world where bank robbers kiss the mezuzah as they leave with their loot.

33. Israel is the only country in the world with "Eretz Yisrael Music".

34. Israel is one of the few countries in the world that truly likes and admires the United States.

35. Israel is the only country in the world that introduces applications of high tech gadgets and devices, such as printers in banks that print out your statement on demand, years ahead of the United States and decades ahead of Europe.

36. Israel is the only country in the world that has the weather of California but without the earthquakes.

37. Israel is the only country in the world where everyone on a flight gets to know one another before the plane lands. In many cases they also get to know the pilot and all about his health or marital problems.

38. Israel is the only country in the world where no one has a foreign accent because everyone has a foreign accent.

39. Israel is the only country in the world where people cuss using dirty words in Russian or Arabic because Hebrew has never developed them.

40. Israel is the only country in the world where patients visiting physicians end up giving the doctor advice.

41. Israel is the only country in the world where everyone strikes up conversations while waiting in lines.

42. Israel is the only country in the world where people choose which books to read and which plays to see based on what they plan to discuss with their friends in Friday evening "salon" get-togethers.

43. Israel is the only country in the world where hot water is an event and not a condition ("in" joke; you have to live in Israel to figure it out).

44. Krembos.

45. Israel is the only country in the world where people call an attach? case a "James Bond", and the @ sign is called a "strudel".

46. Kumquats.

47. The obsession with sunflower seeds.

48. The kumsitz on the beach.

49. The people who eat watermelon with salt or with salty cheese. The wagons with horses that still sell watermelons on the streets, screaming "watermelon on the knife", whatever that means.

50. Israel is the only country in the world where kids read Harry Potter in Hebrew.

51. Hyssop (zaatar). 52. Where Memorial Day is actually a day for remembering and not buying pool furniture at the mall.

53. Really good bread!

54. Israel is the only country in the world where there is the most mysterious and mystical calm ambience in the streets on Yom Kippur, which cannot be explained unless you have experienced it.

55. Where kids can really sleep in a Succah because it will not rain on them.

56. Israel is the only country in the world where making a call to God is a local call (old quip, still good).