A lot of things have happened on 5 June over the years. Five years ago today, 5 June 2000, I arrived in Israel from my green, quiet, sheep-filled, rugby playing birth place of New Zealand. On that date, I became an Israeli and began my new life in the Middle East.
When I made Aliyah, things were a touch different... just a touch!
1. George Bush had lost the Presidency already 8 years earlier.
2. September 11 was just a date, like June 5th.
3. Camp David was something from the late 70s.
4. Sharon was in the opposition.
5. I'd never heard of a blog nor ever owned a cellphone with sms or caller ID.
All that has happened since and all that I have seen evolve in this part of the world puts me in an ideal position to facilitate Current Affairs discussion and to train groups in the skills of Israel Advocacy. My Aliyah has stretched the entire length of the Palestinian return to violence and Israel's internal struggle between peace and security.
So where does this 5-year period leave us? The Haaretz editorial would say that Moshe Yaalon has painted a very pessimistic and misleading picture and outlook for us all. And yet, today we already have reports of 5 attempts to fire rockets or missiles at Israeli settlements in the West Bank - as predicted by Yaalon and others as a necessary outcome of (in their words) 'our capitulation to terror in Gaza and elsewhere'. Indeed, it must be said, that such preparatory (?) action by Palestinians during the 'ceasefire' does not bode well for summer time.
Crime remains on the offensive and the Cabinet are debating the proposed job cuts in the police force versus declaring a full-scale war on crime. Granted that it's a relief to see our leaders finally finding the time and vision to get stuck into internal Israeli issues. It's so often the case that societal issues in Israel get put on the backburner to allow for defence and foreign relations needs.
Five years is a long time in the life of the State of Israel and this whole region for that matter. It's been a long process of absorption and re-acquaintance for me. A new language and a new culture, new challenges and at times new dangers.
And yet, a sense of satisfaction that here I can live a full life as a Jew, an Israeli and a New Zealander without shame, embarrassment or suffering. And the fear? It is calmed by the knowledge that only here do I have an army that will defend my right to be all three of the above.
Israel is not the easiest country to live in. My grandfather z"l left Jerusalem (and the Land of Israel) when he was 14 because it was too difficult. How can we bare to compare!
June 5th is the day that I renewed my grandfather's dream to live in the Land, and June 11th will be (G-d willing) the first birthday of his 1st Israeli-born granddaughter, my Jerusalem-born daughter.
I hope to renew his dream each year and through KIC education, to bring peace and security to this Land.