Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"There are no houses available in Tuscany"

Last year, I asked an Israeli academic whether it was theoretically possible that I could, assuming completion of my program (i.e. 6-7 years from that day), have any chance of finding a job as a professor in Israel. She said no. Everything I've read about strikes in Israeli academia seemed to confirm that something in the field in that country was amiss. Plus Israelis are overrepresented in American academia, suggesting a worse-than-average case of brain drain. All of this looked like it would keep me torn between Herzl-inspired existence and... the sort of work that led me to read and read about Herzl in the first place. I kept picturing a choice between a job filing stuff in Israel versus researching French Jews and Jewish nationalism from America, and if lucky, France. Further attempts at boring Israeli and Israel-knowledgeable classmates have led me to believe my understanding of the situation might have been unfounded. It sounds like what I will need to do is figure out what research that I want to do needs to be done there, spend some time doing that along with (re)learning Hebrew, and not see everything as a choice between dropping it all and staying for the rest of my life within a certain set number of miles of Manhattan.

So that was the Zionist fantasy, in honor of Israel's 60th, which is as we all know a moment to stop and discuss the challenges facing Israel's Arabs while not worrying too much about those facing Jews in that region looking to live anywhere other than Israel. Middle East, big mess, post comments below with your original takes on the matter, by all means. But first, have a look at my apolitical fantasy, which is to live in a house built out of a railroad station. I can't quite imagine how putting up shelves would work, practically speaking, so I can't even begin to picture putting a kitchen and bathrooms into what was once a train station. But once finished, it looks fantastic.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Dear Phoebe,

Glad to see you raise the issues and challenges facing Israel. I have reason for optimism since Israel's neighbors appear to be warming up to a more pluralistic relationship with non-Muslim religions. Who knows? Could normalization between Israel and the Saudis soon be a reality--in our time?

A couple of days ago or so,King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called on Islam to embrace its moderate side and reject religious extremism--an obvious allusion to the Iranian crazies who wish to export their brand of Khomeinism throughout the civilized world.

He warned of radicalism and extremism in Islam.

Note what the King said: "You have gathered today to tell the whole world that ... we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue."

Phoebe, as a young lady, what are some of your thoughts on this change?

Rabbi Michael Samuel