What a journey home to Israel after 4 long years. Israel has knocked down COVID and has only about 200 cases in the entire country. They are open everywhere, kids are in school, and the mask mandate is almost gone! Here's what we needed to do:
1) Get permission to enter Israel - fill out a form
2) Get Permission to enter quarantine in Israel - fill out a form
3) Be fully vaccinated - upload your proof, sign a form online
4) Get a PCR test within 72 hours of getting on the plane. Bring the test result.
5) Make an appointment for a PCR test at Ben Gurion, and pay $25 after filling out the form.
6) Bring copies of all forms, COVID card, tests, passport and proof of where you will stay during quarantine (not allowed out of your room there).
7) Land in Israel. Take a PCR test. Take a serology blood draw.
8) Wait in quarantine until receiving a negative PCR result and a positive serology result.
That's it. Then you are in! Whew! The good news is that I now know that I am vaccinated, not covid positive, and have the antibodies. Anything to keep Israel safe!
Now on to the itinerary!
We landed at 9:35 p.m., and for once I was able to sleep on the plane! Our first stop was Ben Gurion airport, where we had to pass customs control and take a very thorough PCR test (both cheeks, both nostrils!).
- This is what so many in America today do not understand. There are 4 separate theaters to this current situation, and they are very different.
- There is the "Palestinian Conflict" with its elements of "occupation" in the West Bank. Their government is the Palestinian Authority. They are not citizens of Israel. They are controlled externally by the Israeli military.
- There is East Jerusalem, which is a series of neighborhoods that are a part Israel, since being annexed by the government of Israel many years ago. There, Palestinians have the right to accept Israeli citizenship, or just legal residency if they wish. They have no travel restrictions, work restrictions, etc. Israel is open to them. Sheikh Jarah, for example, is one of those neighborhoods. Here is a map from the British in 1947, showing Sheikh Jarah neighborhood, with police patrol lines showing how Jewish and Arab homes lived side-by-side. After 1948, the Jordanians made it an Arab only neighborhood. There are Israeli Arabs, mostly moslem, who live elsewhere within the State of Israel proper. They are full citizens etc., who live without restrictions. However, never having been a part of a coalition government before, they were often left underfunded or to themselves for political and economic control or investment. Now that Raam has joined the government, a first, there is a $16 billion allocation to Arab Israeli towns, infrastructure, schools and more. This is the face of peace - until the violence last month. Can Raam bring Arab Israelis into full equality? I believe the answer is yes, and I believe we must welcome this. Peace must be rewarded.
- Finally, there is Gaza. Israel has nothing to do with Gaza, except that Israel controls the border into Israel. Egypt doesn't want Gaza and the Palestinian Authority doesn't want Hamas - who rules in Gaza. Personally I would declare Gaza a micro-state and free it from everyone, opening up international investment. But that's just me. As long as Hamas wants to use Gaza as a launching pad for attacks on Israeli civilians, it will remain a terrible human disaster. Note: the week before Hamas launched rockets, there were no Palestinian deaths by Israel in Gaza. The same is true the week after they stopped. Be honest - really. And in the Palestinian Authority during that time? In the West Bank? Nothing but quiet. Israel is NOT set out to bomb and kill Palestinians. If there is no war, perhaps peace can find a way.