Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Perspective

by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths

I was speaking to some secular Israeli's today in Tel Aviv, trying to provide some American perspective on a business issue. They want to make a deal with a US company for exclusive distribution rights for their product in Israel, the American company isn't willing to give exclusive rights to a single distributor for a whole _country_.

Many years ago, I got into my car parked by the Kotel, the holy Western Wall in the old city of Jerusalem with my wife and drove to Kever Rochel in Bet Lechem (Bethlehem). (In those days one could safely make such a drive.) It took me ... 12 minutes. (It was a time with no traffic.) I used to ask American friends, American JEWS, how far is it from Jerusalem to Bet Lechem, from the heart of Judaism and Israel to Palestine? They would commonly answer, a few hours? A few hundred miles? Like New York to Philadelphia?

That's the American perspective. BIG. Lots of space. I used to drive 15 minutes to the supermarket. My commute to work was 1 hour. My kids traveled 50 miles a day to school. I had family living in Florida (22 hours by car, 2 1/2 by plane) and California (96 hours by car, 6 by plane). The grocery store carries 100,000 items, and you can get lost in a Wal-Mart (or Target or Home Depot).

In Israel, I drove from Jerusalem to Haifa last week, 2 hours. With traffic. Passed Tel Aviv along the way, and Hertzaliya, and Netanya, and Cesaria, and Zichron Yaakov. The BIG shopping complex (there are actually shopping strip centers called BIG, in BIG BOLD ENGLISH LETTERS) has ... 10 stores, count 'em, 10. That's a BIG shopping center in Israel.

As Americans are thinking about the "peace process", they're thinking of distances such as Washington to Mexico. In Israel, we're talking about ... 3 miles away.

A little perspective is warranted.

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