Columns - 1998

    Israeli Five-O

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Shofar Columnist

    Much has been said in the media, as well as in the campaigns of many leading Jewish organizations, about this year being the 50th anniversary of Israel becoming the 50th state of America...

    Actually, that was Hawaii. Hawaii is the 50th state of America. I have been informed by the legal department that I am not allowed to disclose any information about the lobbying that occurred in 1948 to prevent Israel from becoming a part of the United States. This lobbying was carried out by the producers of "Hawaii Five-O" who didn't want to reprint all their promotional materials to say "Hawaii Five-One". These same producers also considered litigation because of potential public confusion of their star, Jack Lord, with Israel's, The Lord.

    Nevertheless, this column will not join in the incessant torrent of waxing (whether it be poetic, nostalgic, ironic, or Corinthian) about the 50th birthday. This column will discuss something that is popularly farther reaching in its religious and cultural influence, not to mention in its impact on the history of the 20th century: The 50th anniversary of the NBA.

    Or not. Fifty is a nice, round number. Like a basketball. But since there are currently no Israelis in the NBA, this column will discuss a monumental historic event marked by a number that has an integer for a square root: the 49th anniversary of the conclusion of Israel's first year of statehood.

    No, you are not reading about the Bible Code. You are reading the sum knowledge that I retained from high school Geometry class.

    Since so much has already been said about Israel's 50th birthday, perhaps it's more relevant to cover the coverage of the 50th birthday of Israel. This birthday coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel, which itself coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Confusion for all Middle East atlas and map publishers.

    Much is being made in the media now about how little was made in the media at first regarding the shadier sides of Israel's first 50 years, such as the areas just east of palm trees in Haifa when the sun is setting in the west. Therefore, this column will present a comparison of Israel's first 50 years versus the first 50 years of another major country that is stereotypically dominated by one religion: The United States of America.

    A cursory evaluation shows that there is much to consider. Several differences can be attributed to the more primitive times in which America was founded. While there have been more wars in Israel than America, the cumulative length of the wars is about the same. Israel had less slavery, while America had less rabbinical debate. Israel created the kibbutz. America created Newark.

    America saw the establishment of its Supreme Court, which spearheads a complex legal system dominated by lots of Jewish lawyers and endless debate. Israel, taking things a step further, saw the establishment of the Parliament, which spearheads a complex government system dominated by lots of rabbis and Jewish lawyers causing endless debate.

    But the most significant distinction is in the establishment of the flag industries. Obviously, Israel's flag production sector was not on the ball, while their American counterparts had terrific field position and two timeouts left. Every time the United States has added a state, another star has been added to the flag. Every American has needed to buy 37 new flags. The only way Israeli flag makers can incur such profits is by covertly spurring a rabbinic debate about how many points there really are on a Star of David.

    But at this point, one should first address a more fundamental question: Whether Israel is celebrating a birthday or anniversary. If you think it's a birthday, please rise. (Unless you're driving on the freeway, in which case I don't want to distract your attention from your primary responsibility: Reading this column.)

    Those of you who are standing are correct. Some of you are also about five seconds from a major traffic accident. Either way, it is a birthday. And since it is a birthday, it cannot be an anniversary. Why? How many people do you know whose 50th anniversary is on their 50th birthday? If your answer is more than "zero," why haven't you reported these people to the authorities? Or how about "Hard Copy"?

    Actually, this column will address issues of Israel's influences on international politics, and the oddities therein. For example, one does not need to contrive sarcastic intimations to elicit bewilderment at the popular media's contradictory portrayal of Israel as a home of many peoples, while calling Al Gore's recent visit to Israel an important stop in winning the favor of American Jewish voters in the 2000 presidential election.

    Another example is how several governments around the world confuse whether Israel's capital is in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, then write it off as a matter of formal recognition. This is easily understandable coming from the American government. It's not surprising that politicians who have to traverse the streets of Washington D.C. would be confused about geography.

    Instead, this column could address what ensued after that fateful vote in 1948. Not the birth of Israel, but the inevitable afterbirth of political and religious squabbling over not only where and how people could observe their religions in the state, but also over who can be a card-carrying religion member in the first place.

    But, actually, since this column is founded on the principles of presenting, pure, non-controversial subject matter with as little bias as possible while using ink, we will cover the best message that one can present on this occasion. One that really shouldn't cause any controversy, and the meaning of which is plain.

    Happy birthday, Israel. Enjoy the fact that people are referring to this as "the first" 50 years of statehood.

    Doug Brook is a technical writer in Silicon Valley, the American technology region subsidiary to the Israeli technology industry.

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.