June 11, 2008


Down here in Eilat, I popped into my hotel shop to buy a Jerusalem Post.
“Sorry, you have to order it in advance” the owner said, reaching for a pen to take down my room number for tomorrow.
Looking at the selection of Hebrew newspapers, I asked him to remind me which was the least left-wing.
“They’re all much the same” he replied. “If you support the right, we may as well close down this place,” he went on. “As long as we live by the sword, no visitors will come to this country.”
“Well,” I replied, “if we don’t defend ourselves, there will be no country for our own people either. "
He was a pleasant old man but shook his head irritably, clearly struggling with the shopkeepers’ principle: ‘the customer is always right’.
“Okay,” I said. “Let me ask you this: suppose all our Arab neighbors and Iran offered us a solid peace treaty but with one condition; that we must give up either Eilat or Jerusalem. Which would you give up?”
“Jerusalem!” he replied, without a moment’s thought.
I left the shop feeling very sad that, for this man, and millions of other Israelis, this was all just about left and right.


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