Everyday life in an extraordinary place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bring on the Mouse

Mickey Mouse is (c) The Walt Disney Company

This Postcard from Israel was originally written on 18 December 2001

Recently there have been rumors here that the Walt Disney Corporation plans to build one of its trademark theme parks in Israel by the year 2005. In the light of all that has happened here over the past 15 months, and in America in recent months, this news is a surprise. The kind or surprise that carries hope in its back pocket.

How can you have car bombs and spinning tea cups in the same universe, much less within mere miles of one another? How could there be costumed princesses, Goofy, and Donald Duck cheek by jowl with suicide bombers? And who would be foolish enough to go voluntarily to a place that has as its most distinguishing feature, in this day and age, its candidacy for being a prime target for mass murder and destruction?

There is only one answer: hope. Hope that we will live to see a better world re-emerge from the ashes of the "Al Aqsa Intifadeh" and the horrible tragedies of September 11th.

Right now I live in a world where I think twice before venturing to the mall or the movies. Where every time I pull up next to a bus at a stop light, I start sweating with fear - is a terrorist on that bus right now? How badly will I be hurt if he explodes himself now? My world is the kind of place where, when my friend tells me her father is going to take his grandchildren to a special Chanukah show in Tel Aviv, my first thought is fear that the sports arena where the show is held will become a target. I live in a place where "suspicious articles" (meaning any kind of bag or container that has been left unattended) are immediately reported to the police's bomb squad. Israel has been this kind of place for a very long time. Lately, other parts of the world are becoming places like this, too.

Americans can feel proud, and heartened, by the knowledge that their army is hard at work, making the world at large a safer place for its inhabitants. Would that we here could have a similar feeling. Due to external pressure, our army, one of the best in the world, sits on its hands and waits. And every day, more Israelis are wounded and killed. Perhaps that, too, will soon change. We can hope.

If Disney does build a park here, it will be a sign: "Better Times Ahead" or perhaps, "Peace is Here." To imagine Mickey Mouse here in Israel means to imagine a world where children go to sleep dreaming of Fantasyland and Space Mountain, not terrorists coming to kill them. To realize such a hope would indeed make this "The Happiest Place on Earth."

There are some here who feel that in their ardent desire for any and all things American, Israelis bring only the worst of American culture back with them from their travels. Some feel that Israel is less its own unique place, now that we have MacDonalds and Blockbuster Video. They fear that Israel is losing her true identity in her mad rush to become (as some here call her already) the 51st state.

But I say, bring on the Mouse!

"It's a world of laughter, a world of tears
It's a world hopes and a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world, after all."

Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman

c) Amy Samin

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