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Newsletter 7: Civilization and socio-economic level


Dear friends and family,

As I told you yesterday I finally got round to the opera, Manon Lescaut by Puccini. I'm sorry to admit my ignorance but I had never heard of this opera of Puccini. I knew about Madame Butterfly and I hope the New Israel Opera will put that on one of these days.

Manon knows great wealth and great love. Her efforts to take wealth from one man and love from another end up in her being a criminal and dying in the arms of her lover in a distant land, America.

Everybody looks for money and love. We're ready to do almost anything for these. Unfortunately they don't often go together.

Today's headlines in the Israeli newspapers is the danger that gang warfare poses for ordinary citizens. Now we have to protect ourselves against criminals and terrorists.

We have always prided ourselves in being a land of honest people and felt safe in the knowledge that anyone, male or female, kids and the elderly could walk safely down the street and wouldn't be attacked or molested in any way.

It's not only the good police force that keeps criminals off our streets, it's the moral goodness of the citizens. Israelis consist of a great majority of law abiding citizens. Many of them came as pioneers or out of religious motivation. These are not typical criminal types.

The increase in the number of criminals is the result of protracted economic difficulties that the country has faced since its establishment. This has resulted in spending less on education and welfare systems. The honest citizen has had to educate his children himself to live honestly and can't depend on the state to do that for him.

Manon, for example wan't fortunate enough to have wise parents or a wise older brother to educate her. Unfortunately there are too many Manons in modern society in Israel.

I am very grateful for the half price tickets at the box office, otherwise I couldn't have afforded to go to the opera. I could have lived happily without my visit to the opera but I realize how important it is to enjoy something beautiful. It's an experience that nourishes our souls for a long time. I am still relishing the pleasure of listening to Victoria de los Angeles about 15 years ago. I can't agree with people who say that it's not worth spending so much money on an Opera ticket.

Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Shaul in the local good vegetarian restaurant called the Village Green. This was quite a splurge for us who usually eat at a small humus place in the market called Rahmu.

At Rahmu we get a plate of humus and pita and pickles for IS20 at the Village green I paid IS32 for just one plate of salad. I don't know why vegetarian restaurants have to be for the upper classes. Is it that only upper class folk are vegetarian and the masses still love their meat? It should be the other way around.

Being vegetarian isn't only healthy it's also very economical. Double the quantity of tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers etc in the salad for IS32 could be purchased in the market for about IS5.

The poor aren't vegetarians and don't live healthy lives because these go together with education and poverty goes together with lack of education.

We have compulsory education to the age of 16 in Israel, but this won't help a man who doesn't want to get an education.

I'd like to know how many vegetarians are criminals. I think very few.

One of the places which is a must for visitors to Jerusalem is Yad Vashem. Officialy this institute is described as the memorial to the 6 million Jews murdered by the Germans in the holocaust. Actually it's a gigantic collection of exhibits illustrating atrocities committed by Germany against the human race.

I consider the Jews examples of the human race just as I consider the Germans themselves as examples of the human race or the English or any other nation.

The Germans committed these atrocities against the Jews because they made the mistake of not considering the Jews as representatives of the human race.

Most of the time we are aware that people around us are human beings and we treat them with respect and courtesy. Unfortunately when someone annoys us, for a moment we tend to forget, that they, like ourselves, are also human and we act like the Germans did.

For me the atrocities exhibited at Yad Vashem remind us what terrible acts we humans are capable of performing if we forget that someone else is also human.

No matter how irritating the circumstances, our fellow man is also a member of the human race and deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect. This simple lesson seems to me to be the most important one we learn from the holocaust.

Wishing you a great no news day

Yours truly

Leon Gork

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