Israeli Fireworks

3 May

Over the past six months, I've come to enjoy and better understand life in Israel. While I still have mixed feelings, I've at least developed a life for myself here which I like living. As an American living in Israel, I have a different take than that of the millions of immigrants who come here from countries that are far worse off than Israel itself. The difference is that I come from a country where the standard of living is higher than in Israel, if only marginally, and where you truly feel like you're in the developed world, where the "system" kind of works, at least for the average middle class white guy.

Yesterday's Independence Day fireworks in downtown Tel Aviv symbolized some of Israel's problems, at least as seen through the eyes of a well-to-do American 20-something year-old. Though the display went on for at least 15 minutes and seemed to thoroughly impress the crowd, the fireworks themselves were nothing special to me – loud little blasts of one or two colors, but no complicated timing, no special effects, no expensive fireworks. While Israel is arguably a first world nation with regards to its "system" (fireworks permits, safety personnel, police, committees, and planning are all necessary in Israel), the resulting display was less impressive than the Gandhi Day fireworks I witnessed in Udaipur, India, where I'm sure no permits were obtained, caution was thrown to the wind, and random teenagers set off the fireworks, running away shrieking with pleasure. So why is it that a first-world nation can't even pull off a third-world display of fireworks?

It may seem like a stretch to say that the unimpressive nature of the fireworks display is symptomatic of Israel's tendency to straddle the first and third worlds, it's inability to become a first-rate developed nation. And I may sound like a rich, spoiled American knocking the display in the first place (hell, maybe I am). But, coming from a country like America, where 4th of July fireworks are incredible, even in small towns, it's easy to draw the conclusion that Israel offers the worst of the first world without offering the best of the third.

Where that leaves us, I have no idea. But I see it all the time in Israel. A wonderful country with tons of potential, but it seems to be struggling with how to get through that last part of development and become a first-world nation. At the end of the day, I feel good about complaining about Israel – it's how I do my part to improve this place. My own form of Zionism.

Maybe in Carmit they'll have good fireworks.

3 Responses to “Israeli Fireworks”

  1. Ashley May 4, 2006 at 10:33 am #

    It’s an interesting point, but why neglect the context in which you put it in the first place? Let’s look at the context that Israel exists within: a region in which Israel’s immediate neighbors per capita income range from $3,400 (Syria) to a whopping $5,300 (Egypt); in which these same neighbors, along with much of the rest of the world, have been tacitly or overtly bent on waging war with Israel; a region which has provided oil to many of the aforementioned countries but has left Israel without natural resources; and a region in which Israel is THE only democratic system that institutes relative social equality and a rational concept of justice.

    This is a young nation. And it’s true that the fireworks in India are, perhaps, better. But how many Indian houses burn to the ground on account of this wild show? And, more significantly, where would you rather drink the water?

    No doubt that Israel has its fair share of problems. And it’s not America. But I think you should embrace your India analogy less selectively and look at Israel’s quality of life and institutional successes vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Or maybe, get involved with the fireworks committee:)

  2. Nir May 30, 2006 at 6:37 pm #

    Well, you probably are a rich spoiled American like you say about yourself. So what is the reason you choose to live in Tel-Aviv?
    Should I give you afew examples of your “developed” America or can you think of some?
    You should mention the fireworks demonstration that took place a fews weeks after with French government cooperation also in Tel-Aviv. A 1 million dollar investment.
    It’s funny how you choose to compare Israel to India when it comes to fireworks…
    It’s people with a little more belief then you that made Israel a developed country in 58 years.

  3. Suzie June 8, 2006 at 5:49 pm #

    I agree that Israel does not have the best fireworks, we don’t make as good movies and TV shows as the US either, there are a lot of places to improve. But on the other hand, a day before independence day was memorial day, and unlike the US, memorial day is not just a good day for shopping. There are things the US is not perfect in either. I have made my choice, have you ?

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