Behind and beyond the photo essay


Thanks for printing my photo essay in the Dec. 21 issue (“Adventures in Israel”). The photos were part of a much longer story about Israel. Two deleted impressions pertain to us in America today:


 On Thursday [while we were in Israel], we got a very comprehensive assessment of Israel’s security situation by Jordan Herzberg, a lieutenant colonel in the IDF Reserves. His frankness and intelligence were most refreshing for us Americans. He is one of thousands in Israel’s top echelons of decision-making. Their competence, intellectual flexibility and ability to deal with reality explain why Israel wins so often in business and on the battlefield. Also, their philosophy for survival and living on the frontline every day forces the culture to have some unique thought processes. The future has its dire risks, but they will find solutions.

On Saturday, I went to the Israel Museum and toured the archaeology galleries. The curators’ words say it best:

“The land of Israel has been the home of peoples of different cultures and beliefs for some one-and-a-half million years. It is to these people and their cultures that the exhibition galleries of the Archaeology Wing are dedicated, serving as primary showcase to the rich and fascinating local archaeological heritage. The display takes the visitor on a journey of unparalleled depth into the historical course of ancient Israel...”

You can see part of the exhibit and read fascinating details at:

As I looked at and read, the thought came to mind that these ancient artisans were our ancestors, both those who stayed and became part of the Jewish nation, as well as those who continued wandering and became the people of Europe, Asia and the Americas. Some came back, like the Greeks and the Persians, and intermarried. Some we went forth, and intermarried. (In a way, we are all hybrids of people who were in Israel 1.5 million years ago and since then.)

I am writing this for two reasons:

A. Many in our nation have lost the ability to deal with reality and to make decisions in our government based on reality — both on the right and the left. For examples of that, see the essay that David Brooks recommended highly, by a conservative writer: “America’s New Religions,” by Andrew Sullivan, Dec. 7, 2018


Even oil executives and top generals admit that global warming is a reality that will probably cause hell on earth for our grandchildren, unless we deal with it now. But we are not. Our grandchildren will not be thanking us.

B. In Israel and here I have met countless people, Christian and Jewish, who avow with deep passion that all of life was created only 5779 years ago. Best friends believed that. Last month on Shabbat, in a kibbutz, a Christian spent an hour trying to convince me. It is high time that we all believe the experts in Israel, who have demonstrated that we humans were there 1.5 million years ago. The artifacts from those old caves prove it. Now, I am glad to believe that maybe 5779 years ago ha-Shem caused a change in us, opened our eyes and our minds, that forever put humans on the path to civilization and religious behavior — a mindset and a pattern of behavior in his image.

The sooner we deal realistically with our world and its problems, the sooner we will cure our ills. That means accepting science and believing experts. That means working together to create a world that our grandchildren will thank us for.


GARY LEIB retired as director of community development in Bristol for 30 years. Currently he is a volunteer for Providence Village and on its board. Also working with friends to create cohousing in Providence.