No NY Times, Israelis Are Not Miserable!

By Rolene Marks

A recent New York Times op-ed concludes that Israelis are “miserable”, “divided” and other negative adjectives. Quite the contrary, we are happy, because we know what that costs!

The New York Times is veribbled (Yiddish for angry) with Israel. Somewhere along the line, a decision has been taken to criticise and deride the Jewish state at every given opportunity. Now, there is nothing wrong with criticism when it is legitimate; but the NYT takes this to an obsessive level.

Several weeks ago, New York Times journalist, Patrick Kingsley wrote an article about his trip to Israel. Far from musings about religious sites or vibrant night life, Kingsley’s article “Whose Promised Land?” came to the conclusions that we Israelis are miserable. Sad. Verkrimpt. (uptight) I believe he also used the word “divided” and described our cities and towns as “garish”.

Mind Made Up. The New York Times correspondent Patrick Kingsley  describes Israel in his front-page article subheads as a “”Nation divided” and a  “nation founded on contradictions”.

It was apparent that Kingsley was very selective about who he published in his article, preferring instead to push a decidedly negative narrative. Israelis responded on social media platform, Twitter, by sharing pictures of themselves and their families enjoying life in Israel with the hashtag, #sadsadIsrael. Kingsley got schooled in Israeli chutzpah, pride – and perhaps the people and sites he neglected to include in his article!

Taking aim at Israeli towns and cities, Kingsley called them “garish”. While Israel may lack stately architecture by American or European standards, our desert paradise boasts cities like Jerusalem that date back to King David and whose beauty is in its history and ancient stones or modern day Tel Aviv with its distinct Bauhaus buildings which are World Heritage Sites. The simple, unpretentious beauty of Israel is part of its charm.

Israel may have many problems, just like any other country, but Israelis are happy. The Annual Happiness Index consistently ranks Israel within the top 15 countries with the happiest populations.

Off Track. Rather than revealing to its readers a balanced presentation of Israel today, the Patrick Kingsley NY Times’ front-page article takes devious detours that reflect the paper’s bias and cynicism towards the Jewish state.

Perhaps this happiness stems from the ability of Israelis to enjoy robust debate – and arguments. Opinions are welcome here and the trend of “cancel culture” so prevalent around the world is virtually non-existent here. We all have strong political opinions – and are not afraid to voice them!

It reminds me of the joke. For lack of exact memory, I will paraphrase – The President of the USA is speaking to the Prime Minister of Israel and discussing their respective countrymen and the Israeli PM says, “you may be the President of 100 million Americans but I am the Prime Minister of 6 million prime ministers!”

It may be decade’s old but still rings true today. Everyone is an expert on anything and perfectly content to share our unsolicited advice.

Smorgasbord of Styles. Escaping the NY Times attention, Tel Aviv is an exciting amalgam of  early twenty century styles of architecture juxtaposed with the ultra-modern, reflecting the character of its residents that cherishes the past while embracing the future.

Israelis will engage in fiery arguments, complete with passionate gesticulation; and even if we vehemently disagree, we will still find time to sit down for hummus and a beer together. Life is too precious and sacred to carry a grudge over a differing opinion.

We have an ability to laugh and poke fun at ourselves that is refreshing. What Kingsley sees as divisive, we see as passionate expression.

A few days later, another article taking aim at the centrality of Zionism to Jewish worship was published. The modern day Zionist movement may be political in nature but the references to Zion are ancient and imbued in our religious text. The article crowed that the next generation Jewish clergy were looking at ways to NOT include references to Zion in their services. It is almost as if the NY Times is not content with just insulting the modern state of Israel, they are steadily eroding our ancient ties to the land.

True ‘Face’ of Israel. Despite the NY Times painting a bleak picture of Israel,  the 2021 World Happiness Report found Israelis to be among the happiest in the world and ranked Israel as the 12th happiest out of 149 countries over the past three years.

As I write this, happily ensconced in my home in Modiin, a city central to the story of Chanukah which we are currently observing, I am reminded of the brave Maccabees who fought yet another people, hell bent on the destruction of the Jews. Chanukah is a very Zionist holiday! Kingsley would probably find Modiin, with its Jerusalem stone buildings and careful planning, “garish” and unexciting, but to its residents, the city serves as a daily reminder that we walk in the footsteps of our ancient Jewish heroes who are central to a holiday that celebrates light and joy.

Modern Modiin. Hardly “garish” as the NY Times correspondent describes Israel’s young cities, Modiin, where this writer lives, is modern  with fascinating links to Jewish history dating back to the Maccabees and Bar Kochba. Modi’in is the birthplace of the Chanukah story.

There are many reasons why Israelis are happy – great weather, robust and vibrant democracy and respect for personal freedoms are just some.

As a country that has endured war, terror and continued calls for our destruction, we understand only too well, the importance of happiness and the value of life. We are too familiar with sorrow. Our happiness has been forged through enduring sorrow and pain and far too many of us have lost people we know and love to the ravages of war and terror.

Israelis live life in defiant happiness. This might grate on the nerves of the New York Times and their correspondents who are looking for any excuse to deride Israel. Perhaps if Kingsley dropped the agenda and engaged Israelis, he would have written a different article – one that celebrated diversity, differences, ancient ties to sacred land and yes, simple and uncomplicated cities, each with its own personality.

Israel is not perfect – no country is – but to blatantly disregard the character traits and ties that make this tiny state so special, well, that is just sad.

Israel Unmasked. A world leader in vaccinations, following the lifting of its outdoor mask mandate, Israelis take to the streets in Tel Aviv showing its people in all their colourful diversity, a characteristic that escaped the attention of the New York Times’ correspondent. (photo Amir Cohen/Reuters)

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

From Drums of War to Alarm Bells

Ratcheting up the rhetoric coupled with martial machinations, China, Russia and Iran have the world worried

By David E. Kaplan

We are living in uncertain times and it is unsettling what the big movers are plotting.

Who knows what China is planning against Taiwan? Is it thinking about anytime soon mounting a full-scale invasion? Analysts and government figures are debating less about if and more about when.

What about Russia? Having annexed Crimea, will the “Big Bear”  devour anytime soon, the rest of the Ukraine? After all, the notion that Ukraine is not a country, but a historical part of Russia, appears to be deeply ingrained in the minds of a Russian leadership who repeatedly express the narrative:

 There is no Ukraine”.

Well, there might not be in the near future with tens of thousands of Russian troops reportedly gathered at the border with Ukraine seemingly ready to pounce. The TV news networks are replete with experts fearing Russia could be about to stage a repeat of its 2014 invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

What’s the Drill? ‘Showtime’ as Russian military armored vehicles roll into landing vessels after drills in Crimea on April 23, 2021. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

We all should be very worried, to be honest, I do share this assessment,” Michal Baranowski, director and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Warsaw Office told CNBC.

And if either of these bellicose giants – China and Russia – make a military move – and possibly in a coordinated manner and time –  what will the US do if faced with this nightmare scenario of a two-front conflict with both China and Russia?

Yiddish has just the expression:

Oy Vey!

Following the hurried, costly and inglorious withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, the US clearly has no appetite for any future military engagements, never mind squaring off against its equals – China and Russia – in concert.

In the Air. Is something more about to happen following a record number of Chinese warplanes entering Taiwan’s air defence zone? Taiwan has urged Beijing to stop these “irresponsible provocative actions”

While all these potential existential conflicts are worrying for an already paranoid global community over Covid, for Israel there is the added angst over a potentially nuclear-armed IRAN that is hardly concealing its desire to destroy Israel.

So while talks about reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed Monday in Vienna after a five-month break and for the first time since Iran’s new hardline President Ebrahim Raisi took office and under a caution from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling Israel’s President Isaac Herzog that the world “doesn’t have much time” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the message from Iran was clear:

Iranian Brig.-Gen. urges destruction of Israel prior to nuke talks

Time to Stand Firm. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) shares his concerns about a possible Nuclear Iran with Israeli President Isaac Herzog(right) in London on Nov. 23, 2021. (photo: AP/Justin Tallis/Pool)

This is hardly the message to put the parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks at ease!

It may be bluster but Israel cannot take any chances when the spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces, Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, last Saturday urged the total elimination of the Jewish state during an interview with an Iranian regime-controlled media outlet.

Telling the Iranian Students News Agency,  Shekarchi said:

We will not back off from the annihilation of Israel, even one millimeter. We want to destroy Zionism in the world.”

So this is not only a threat against Israel – the nation state of the Jews – but a threat against Jews everywhere. Not satisfied with annihilating people, Iran wants to “destroy” the very idea of Israel – Zionism.


With the clock ticking to the frightening soundtrack of Shekarchi’s genocidal antisemitic remarks, is it any wonder that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appealed to the international community and its leadership as negotiations resumed in Vienna on Monday:

Don’t cave in”.

Iran on the Level. Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi warned that the “slightest mistake” by Israel would lead the Islamic Republic to “level Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

With Iran’s sole aim for the US to lift sanctions while it will do almost nothing in return,  the PM warned:

Iran won’t just keep its nuclear program: From today, they’ll be getting paid for it.”

Vienna Waltz

So the fear in Israel is that the US and other world powers will ‘dance’ around and in the end, provide Tehran with economic sanctions relief, while the Iran regime will pursue the building of a nuclear weapons device. And if Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi is to be believed and taken seriously, the coordinates for any future Iranian nuclear ballistic missile would likely be Tel Aviv.It there is a second target, it would likely be Haifa before any other international city.

How do we know this?

Well Shekarchi said so himself in January 2021 to Tasnim News Agency that Iran’s regime can:

  “level Haifa and Tel Aviv in the shortest possible time.”

A Nuclear Iran – Never. “A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass-destruction,” warns Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Common sense dictates in a parent’s thinking not to allow their kids to play with dangerous toys. Similar common sense should similarly dictate amongst the world leaders to do all in their power – most certainly not facilitate –  one of the most maniacal murderous regimes in the world to develop and possess nuclear weapons.

Venerable leaders in Vienna, adhere the message of Israel’s Prime Minister Bennett.

It is succinct and sound:

“Don’t cave in”

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).