What images come to mind when people think about the state of Israel? Israeli oppressors shooting at cherub faced Palestinians? Suicide bombings and exploded buses? Or maybe indifference reigns; why should we care about this faraway place that has no real bearing on our daily lives? Perhaps it is all of the above.
I was indifferent about Israel and the Middle East. However, last year when I visited Israel and the Palestinian territories for the first time, I was left with a very different impression of the place: Israel is a country misunderstood and misrepresented. Looking across the border with Lebanon and peering at Hizbullah strongholds, no more than 100 yards away from where I was standing, underlined the significance of Israel’s strategic frailty in the face of constant threat.
Touring the security barrier I was surprised to hear that the architect of the barrier had appeared before the Israeli Supreme Court on countless occasions to defend his decisions regarding the route of the barrier. On occasion, when his planned route was ruled illegal, the barrier was removed and re-built according to the judgement. I also learnt that as a country with sparse natural resources Israel has had to develop alternative methods of productivity. The country leads the way in hi-tech, green and agri-techniques as well as in scientific development.