Scrolling Headlines:

: Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

Live from Israel

I’m sitting and panting in a hard-won seat on a British Airways jet airplane in London’s Heathrow airport. My flight from Newark, N.J. got delayed a whole hour by thunderstorms, and so I had to race through Heathrow Airport’s terminal five as soon as I got through security (you have to go through security again in Britain after coming off a flight to connect) to get on my flight to Tel-Aviv, Israel before it closed completely.

Still, I got it. And now I’ve got some space and time in which to sit and think or perhaps even sleep and make up for my jet lag. I’ve lost a whole day, leaving at 6:30 p.m. from Newark and arriving at 3:30 p.m. in Tel-Aviv. Why the hell am I doing this? Let me tell you.

I signed up to spend five months – starting in August and ending in time for me to come back to the University of Massachusetts in January – doing volunteer community service in Ashdod, Israel. I did this because I like the country, because I am a Zionist and because I feel an obligation to walk the walk on things I believe.

To really explain why I’ve done such a crazy thing as to take time off from UMass, I need to explain Zionism. Hell, I ought to since it gets bandied about so much in UMass’s thriving public-policy debates, despite the fact that neither the people in favor of it nor the people against it ever really give a thorough definition or justification for it. So I begin simply: Zionism is the belief that a Jewish state ought to exist in the historical land of Israel, also sometimes known as the Levant, Palestine or Judea.

Diving further into the subject, why should a Jewish state exist? Why not just draw a polity on whatever boundaries look geographically nice and tell everyone in there to get along?

To answer this, we have to go back to the aged idea of self-determination. Self-determination is the principle that every people should have a place in which they subject themselves to nobody else’s will and can make every decision of their own governance for themselves. Notably, all the most stable and peaceful countries on Earth were founded on this principle. When we apply this principle to Jews, we arrive at Theodor Herzl’s early political Zionism. From there, the Zionist movement required a land in which to create its state, and to sum up decades of history in a single blithe sentence, the Zionists decided that modern Jews felt the greatest emotional connection to and the greatest moral right to the historic Land of Israel of everywhere on Earth.

From there, history took its course. I think that rather than lecture on the history of Israel here, I’ll leave it to my readers to remember their high-school history of the 20th century or to take a course at UMass. I personally want to focus on the present rather than the past.

Today’s Israel was not merely born, but built in a mere century. It has a culture far more similar to the rest of the Middle East or Mediterranean region than to Europe or America.

People in Israel drink wine instead of beer, crowd and shove instead of queuing, negotiate over everything, consider hard-and-fast rules anathema, spoil their children absolutely rotten, send them to the Israel Defense Force as soldiers, send them to university afterwards and then finally hope they get jobs.

People in Israel have no manners whatsoever, but live up to their usage of “my brother” and “my sister” as second-person pronouns. Even my flight-mate, who says all Israelis are crazy, has picked up their attitude. When there’s no kosher brunch for him he’s fine, because nobody was killed or wounded.

Israelis also value contribution, a value I share with them. Despite rising rates of draft-dodging among young Israelis, people there still consider it a basic duty to serve one’s community and country, to contribute to the common good. I have to get my assignment figured out once I land, but serving a community is exactly what I signed up to do. Crazy or not, I’m spending the next five months in this new country, so I want to make it a little better in whatever way I can.

And of course, I’ll be reporting as much as I can back to my readers at The Collegian. You guys deserve to know what’s really going on in this place that everyone spends so much time arguing about.

Eli Gottlieb is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at egottlie@student.umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Live from Israel”
  1. Ryan says:

    You forgot to mention that Zionism disregards the Palestinian right to self determination and to live on the land they’ve always lived on and grants that right to foreigners from all over the globe who identify with Judaism.

    Even IF we believe that the land was historically Jewish then using that logic we should all immediately surrender our homes and land to the Native Americans and leave to Canada and Mexico.

  2. muad'dib says:

    Eli, you must have written this while jet-lagged. It just isn’t up to your writing standards from previous semesters.

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