Special Guest blogger “Grant from Texas” recalls his time working in Israel in the mid-1970′s and how much our relationship with the people in that region has changed since then. Minor edits, a few corrections and some supporting links were added for clarity.
Romney is on TV this morning accusing President Obama of “sympathizing” with the protesters in Libya and Egypt that killed four Americans. How offensive! Now it looks like Lebanon may be next!!!
I lived in Israel in 1975 working as a supervisor on a $23 million U.S. funded project to build military bases from Port Said along the east side of the Suez all the way down to Sharm el-Sheikh. I went to work there 100% behind Israel mostly based upon the propaganda I grew up with in the U.S.A.. I even had to fill out a 10 page extensive questionnaire to be reviewed by the MOSSAD (that took weeks) and ended up with a higher security classification than many in the Israeli Defense Forces. However, I broke some rules like never talking to an Arab, but it was hard not to have contact. The ones I befriended I liked. We Texans on the job called Arabs the “Mexicans” of Israel as they did most of the service work at the time in hotels, restaurants, taxis.
I also drove through Gaza weekly on the way to and from our job in the Sinai as it was the shortest route. The detour through Israel was longer. We 33 American supervisors (had an Israeli work force) lived at the Ramada Intercontinental (now the Renaissance on the beach) four days every other weekend. I was warned that with yellow Jewish license plates on my truck, I would take rocks or worse bullets. However, stopping for gasoline, food and drinks in El Arish, I was always treated with respect, even admiration for being an American (however, this was 1975). I was appalled at the time seeing Israel building a high fence topped with razor wire and gun towers on the Gaza border. Since then, Gaza has become most similar to the Warsaw Ghetto, a cramped prison for Gazans. Gazans used to commute daily to jobs in Israel, but now banned those jobs are now mostly filled by low wage Eastern Europeans.
I would like to go back to visit Israel but maybe with some of the comments I’ve made online now, that might keep me from getting a visa. One never knows the extent of MOSSAD review. I left Israel in the autumn of 1975 with my viewpoints changed nearly 180 degrees. I saw much mistreatment of Arabs, and sadly, some of the Israelis were visiting the same injustices done to them by fascists, now visiting similar upon the Arabs. However, there is a peace-seeking liberal minority in Israel who don’t go along with Likud, and The Jerusalem Post (where Wolf Blitzer once worked) is most right-wing, but there is a liberal voice in Ha-aretz.
Also of note, I am seriously worried about the election this fall. I see that our Texas Republican Secretary of State sent a list of 80,000 supposedly deceased voters to counties saying these voters need to be purged from the voter roles (fortunately, the list was challenged and rejected, but it’s not the first attempt nor is not likely to be the last – Mugsy). The state says they got their list from the Social Security Administration but people who received letters from the state checking to see if they are dead are saying if they are dead, then “why are our Social Security checks coming every month?” So far the undead have one thing in common… most of them voted in the Democratic Primary! You’d think maybe the GOP here is afraid that Obama might take our electoral votes? How absurd with all of the gerrymandering and voter suppression tricks they are trying to pull.