Fracking Israel

  • Posted: March 3, 2020
  • Category: Blog
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After 10 days in Israel, I can once more sit in a Starbucks and enjoy coffee – good coffee being a pleasure denied Israel. Since restaurant servers have hijacked our language’s storehouse of words describing transcendence, I am left without the words to describe the truly extraordinary experience that is Israel. It doesn’t seem right to order an amazing salad and then talk about an amazing trip to Israel.

Israel – the epicenter of human history, the secular and spiritual wellspring of what we call Western Civilization. Jumbled together in a mish mash are the remains of cities reaching back 12,000 years, the very places where God spoke to us next to shopping malls patrolled by flirtatious teenage girls in uniform sporting assault rifles as fashion accessories.

Israel confuses the American tourist. In America, our vision of ourselves is burdened by an Adorable mindset overcome with shame at our many sins against the environment and the oppressed. These Israeli’s look like us, live in cities and neighborhoods much like ours, but without our culture of political correctness. In Israel, we are without social cues, without the ability to signal our virtue.

The first day of our trip we arrived at our first stop still punchy from the long hours spent on a Lufthansa 747 and the excruciating experience of a six hour layover in the numbingly boring maze of Frankfurt’s terminal. Our first stop was Caesarea Maritima –a seaside resort and home to the Roman administration and Jewish upper class during the time of Jesus. Caesarea was the residence of Pontius Pilate and in their turn some 25 years later, Marcus Antonius Felix followed by Porcius Festus.

The Apostle Paul spent time here as well, two years or more in jail. He appeared before both of these important men, Felix and Festus, the Roman Procurators (Governors) of Judea. Today, the Procurator’s audience chamber, the Preatorium, has been excavated. I stood there under a cloudless blue sky looking upon the floor where Paul must have stood, arguing his case before each of these men in their turn. The Book of Acts, Chapters 23-25, provides a detailed account of Paul’s time in this room.

As I looked over that floor I saw the blue sea behind, framing it. I wondered whether there had been windows back then. Perhaps Festus looked out at the waves while listening to Paul, smelling the fresh salt air and looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with King Agrippa after the completion of this distasteful interview.

I was too jet lagged to anticipate or appreciate a glass of wine, but I couldn’t miss the strange structure just offshore –a natural gas production platform clearly visible from the room where Paul had long ago insisted on his right as a Roman citizen to demand justice from the Emperor himself, Nero in Rome. Just a short distance away, a long pier runs out to sea supporting racks of pipe running into what can only be a large power complex on the shore, just a stone’s throw from the ruins. There were four stacks rising 200 or 300 feet into the sky in bold silhouette against a cloudless blue sky.

Our guide, an Israeli of a vintage similar to mine, explained with obvious pride how Israel’s own offshore natural gas had afforded Israel a new security, no longer subject to the political extortion of foreign suppliers. In fact these natural gas supplies had allowed Israel to shut down her coal fired power plants. Today, Israel sells natural gas to Egypt and Jordon, making customers of her mortal enemies during the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

Some days later we came to Jerusalem. One day our guide took us to the Lion Gate, the southernmost gate in Old Jerusalem’s city wall. He explained that this gate was where Israeli paratroopers entered Jerusalem to take the city during 1967’s Six Day War. There is a picture of an Israeli tank stuck in the gate, Israeli paratroopers climbing over it in the initial assault, a picture of our guide as a teenager of 19.

We questioned our guide – “How did you feel liberating the most sacred sites in Israel?

He answered that he was too busy to feel. He was just focused on staying alive. But afterward in their victory, the combat units formed up at the Wailing Wall. Then it came home to him, when he saw how many of his friends and comrades, fellow paratroopers, had been lost in taking back Jerusalem.

After this shed blood, after this historic victory, I found it just a little depressing, as well as puzzling, to endure Palestinian Muslim checkpoints required to enter the Temple Mount, the site of Herod’s Temple and a large part of Jesus’ ministry. Why is this? If the Israeli’s liberated the Temple Mount back in 1967, why does Islam retain control, in fact why does Islam have a non-negotiable right to veto Jewish or Christian entry onto their most holy site at any time for any reason?

Why indeed? I don’t think the question particularly hard, even though there is much dissembling and obfuscation when the question is asked. Oil, in particular Saudi Arabian oil. In a world where Saudi Arabia can close the tap on the world’s oil supply on a whim, the world will be very attentive to Saudi Arabia’s desires. And Saudi Arabia is the land of Wahhabi Islam, fanatic in its abhorrence of the infidel.

So even though Israel won the war, the American and European need for oil trumped the card game. But time marches on, at least in America though not so much in Europe. And as it happens, America is paying less and less attention to what Europe wants. The fracking revolution happened in America and America no longer needs Saudi oil.

In the words of Bob Dylan, Things Have Changed. Jews have recently been allowed to visit the Temple Mount, even though the Palestinians hate it, their guards roistering visitors for imagined acts of irreverence. Just over a year ago, America did the unthinkable and moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital – Jerusalem.

There is no question that American fracking has changed the game in and for Israel. Saudi Arabia is now trying to raise money by selling off parts of its crown jewel – Aramco. The Palestinians have been left to search out another sugar daddy, a source of wealth and luxury for their leaders and weapons for their cannon fodder. To everyone’s regret, Israel’s version of our own Resistance Movement, the Palestinians, found one in Saudi Arabia’s sworn enemy – Iran.

Who knows? Maybe one day sooner perhaps rather than later, all those comic opera Palestinian guards on the Temple Mount will have to find real jobs. One of the disorienting parts of a trip to Israel is their opinion on American politics. Turns out the Israeli’s are a bunch of Deplorables and the name of Trump is not an epithet.

One Response to “Fracking Israel”

  1. Russell G Kyncl says:

    Great writing, and a very interesting story.

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