WASHINGTON - The morning after the great blizzard in Washington, a surprising sun comes out, bright and cold. I dress up like one dresses up in the cold countries: Layer upon layer, a scarf, mittens, and earmuffs. I put on my boots and I step out for a walk.
At the end of Thomas Jefferson Street there is a passage way to the Washington Port. The broad promenade that overlooks the port features a fountain. Yet the water freezes even before it reaches the ground. Meanwhile, large chunks of ice are floating in the Potomac River as if they were wrecked ships.
I’m not sure I managed to properly describe the sight, but it is amazingly beautiful. The air is almost fragile, everything is pure, and oddly enough it arouses some humility within you. You remember how small we are in the face of nature’s might.
I am not the only one out on the streets. Two young African-Americans are throwing around a football. The night before, the Super Bowl ended with a surprising New Orleans Saints win over the Indianapolis Colts. One of the guys spots me and hurls the ball in my direction. I fail to catch it and it gets buried in the snow. They laugh, but I think they’re not laughing at me, but rather, with me.
This was a long description and I apologize for it, but there is a purpose to it: One can love life in America, or not, but it is a different life than ours in terms of pace, worldview, temperament, and temperature.
We believe in something
The bill which Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed to pass this week after being pressed by Foreign Minister Lieberman says that someone can live in this cold, wake up in the morning, clear the snow around his house, get the GMC out of the garage, travel on broad streets, amidst Victorian brownstones, enter a small room, vote for Lieberman, or National Union, or Meretz, determine our fate, interfere in our future, decide what our lives will look like, and then drive back home, kiss Irene or Catherine, and help John Junior write an essay about Lincoln and the Civil War.
The debate about this bill focuses on who would gain from it. Yet this is not the important issue. The problem with this bill is that it is immoral in the deepest sense of the word.
We live in Israel because we chose to withstand all the difficulties it presents us with. My kid does not travel to school in a yellow school bus, but rather, on the No. 5 bus in Tel Aviv, which once exploded before reaching its final destination.
We withstand it because we believe in something and are willing to suffer through all the difficulties for it. If someone does not want to, or cannot, withstand it, he has the right not to live here. But he has no right to tell us how to live.