The View from Mevaseret
May 13, 2022
By Stuart L. Fischman, DMD

Mevaseret is a “bedroom community” bordering Jerusalem and likened to Eggertsville. The Hebrew is best translated as “harbinger” or “herald” and is found in Isaiah 40:9, “Upon a lofty mountain ascend, O herald of Zion…O herald of Jerusalem.” When pilgrims were approaching Jerusalem on their way from the port of Jaffa, this was their first view of the Holy City.

My “view of Israel” has undergone many changes over the years. My first sabbatical was in 1981 and we have made many visits since then. In 2006 we bought our apartment and then made aliyah 2 years later.

In 1981, we found ourselves in a wonderful and welcoming community but with many features of a third world country. Phone service was unreliable, television was limited to a black and white Jordanian channel, many Western products were either not available or very expensive. Inflation was rampant and the currency was unstable. Due to a perennial water shortage, we were cautioned to be brief in the shower. If one had a window-unit air conditioner, the water was collected through a hose and used for household plants.

At the conclusion of my academic work, the four of us joined a “Nature Society” camping trip into the Sinai! We were outfitted by our good friends and neighbors and spent the week seated on the back of a truck going along the shore of the Red Sea, sleeping on the sand by night and swimming and snorkeling by day. We went all the way to what is now Sharm al Sheikh. In the evenings we sat around a camp fire (“kumsitz”) with our Israeli fellow travelers, The topic of discussion was the future of the Sinai, which, under the treaty, was due to return to Egypt the following year. The consensus was the treaty was “only with Sadat, not with Egypt” and the years proved that to be true.

The “View from Mevaseret” in 2022 is quite different!

In 1985 an “Economic Stability Plan” was enacted, and hyperinflation was defeated. The old shekel was replaced by the NIS (New Israeli Shekel) and remains a “hard currency.”

The “Start Up Nation, “Israel, has become a global technological and entrepreneurial powerhouse.

Israel now gets 80 percent of its domestic water from desalination, and that has helped to turn one of the world’s driest countries into the unlikeliest of water giants. Israel leads the world in in recycling over 90% of waste water for agricultural use.

No longer a borderline third world country, Israel is now a world power. No longer a pariah to the Arab World, Israel now enjoys diplomatic relations with several of our Middle East neighbors. In 2020, leaders from Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates signed the Abraham Accords. A few months later, Israel and Morocco also signed a normalization agreement. (Jordan and Egypt had previously signed peace treaties and a “cool peace” is in place). Earlier this year, Israel hosted a historic summit with the top diplomats from the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain, a sign of how quickly the realignment of Middle Eastern powers is accelerating.

A “side effect” of the Abraham Accords and the subsequent summit meeting is the marginalization of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Lebanon, Syria, and Iran are also “excluded” from the alignment.

A few years ago, a warm and welcoming peace between Israel and Arab nations was merely a dream. Today, we see that it is possible.

That’s my view from Mevaseret. Shabbat shalom!

Stuart Fischman is a retired professor at The University at Buffalo Dental School who lives with his wife Jane in Jerusalem.

The View from Mevaseret - Jewish thought of the week graphic