I already have erased the first version of this article, which was preachy and snotty, when I realized I have lived in Israel too long to remember that I lived too long in America before moving to Israel.
All of the rah-rah Israel attitude than landed with me 30 years ago comes out like a tired preacher fed up with his flock of sinners and no longer able to lead them to the path of Truth and Beauty.
So for all of you still in the United States, and in Canada where I lived for eight years, the only way I know to get inside you is to write the news and views the way I see it, and not as the journalist I once was, when I had traded in Judaism for Journalism as The Way of Life.
My trip into idol worship – H. L. Mencken was one of my gods – ended in the news room at a major metropolitan daily in Canada, where I had the fancy title of Senior News Editor with a salary I have not seen again until this day.
That was in 1981, during what was known as the Peace for the Galilee campaign, usually referred to as the First War in Lebanon. I was ripping off UPI and AP copy, poring through the reports and deciding what our readers would read and what would go into the trash bin.
At that time, Judaism was a memory, and Zionism was an embryo, which I did not know existed.
Let’s go back a bit, but briefly. I grew up in a home where my parents of blessed memory became observant when I was almost too young to remember. Fast forward to 1960, when I was 16 and when they already were heavily involved in the Orthodox Union and Hadassah and took their first trip to Israel.
I was going to public high school but was very serious in my religious learning, which I continued at the “afternoon Hebrew school” well after my Bar Mitzvah. My favorite bedtime reading was the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch on Jewish laws.
Israel was never a part of my studies, except for stories about Jews in the days of “Palestine.”
When my parents returned with photographs of Israel, I refused to look at them. I blurted out instinctively, “Israel is not a religious state. I do not want to see pictures from a Jewish state that is not orthodox.”
If you have not gotten the point, I was far from a Zionist. As a cub reporter in a small hillbilly town in Virginia during the Six-Day War, I remember my managing editor calling out, “Hey, do you know what you guys are doing to the Arabs?
I did not know and could not have cared less. I was more interested in pounding the police beat.
But what happened in the news room in Canada during the war in Lebanon tore me up.
Journalism was my Truth, but something did not read right between the lines of the wire copy.
It said that Israeli soldiers were attacking “guerillas” inside Lebanese territory and then noted the “invasion” followed some rockets that had fallen on Israel, killing a few people here and there.
And you thought that the anti-Israel bias on the war against terror in Gaza, Judea and Samaria is something new? Every day, I read about Israel “invading” Lebanon and killing these “guerillas,” with the obvious bias that Israel was to blame for the violence that I could see between the lines was initiated in Lebanon.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My belief in Journalism was extinguished in a flash. I was devastated. After six weeks, I walked into the news room and said, “I quit.”
The bosses were astonished but did not ask for an explanation, and I do not know if I could have answered. Journalism had become a lie, and there would be no sense telling the gods they have ears and cannot hear and have eyes and cannot see.
Two years later, I took my first trip to Israel – on a one-way ticket, intent to stay, which I did.
So dear, reader, I am trying not to preach to you. I can only let you know of one person’s path to The Truth.
Everyone has his or her own path, and I cannot communicate to you other than through the news and views.
You have your reasons – let’s be honest and call them excuses, in most cases – to remain outside of Israel. I am not referring to those with children. I mean all of the singles and couples without children and without the financial responsibility that could be a question mark before moving to Israel. We can discuss that some other time.
I cannot persuade you or convince you other than to write through my eyes that see Israel with its warts and puts them in perspective of a Divine Presence that protects this country, and see the warts of American in the perspective of a fading empire whose Jews are living in their hope that there will always be a tomorrow.
All of this comes to mind on what is being called Thanksgivukkah, a name which says volumes.
I am sure Americans have a lot to be thankful about, and I will let each one count his own blessings.
My “anti” stage has long passed; I am not anti-American nor anti-America. I was born there, grew up there, was educated there and worked there.
And I am thankful that Thanksgiving is so far behind me that I don’t have the burden of having to celebrate the Miracle of Lights and the Jewish victory over the Romans in the home of the Jewish people along with the holiday that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
According to my prayer book, every day is a day of thanksgiving.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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