ISRAEL AT 60: WHAT A MESS

"Israelis not in partying mood as country celebrates 60th"

Brian Hendler

Israelis celebrate Israel's 59th Independence Day in 2007. As Israel's 60th birthday approaches, many Israelis are in no mood for partying.

By Dina Kraft Published: 04/09/2008

TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel is turning 60, but few here seem in the mood to crack open the champagne.

Israelis are still gloomy about the country's perceived failures in the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and every day brings fresh reminders that no solution has been found for the growing problem of cross-border rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

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The contradictions of life here can be painful. Israel has an outwardly robust economy that produces high-tech giants but also a record number of people living in poverty. ...

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In a country where one in three children lives in poverty, there has been grumbling about the $28 million the government has budgeted to mark the country's 60th birthday, even though some of the money is earmarked for educational and infrastructure programs.

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Israel at 60 is a modern-day Sparta and Athens, Barnea says, walking a fine line in its dual existence as both a garrison state and a thriving cultural and business locale.

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A recent Haifa University poll of Israeli Jews found their faith in state institutions at an all-time low. Fewer than half those surveyed, 48 percent, said they have faith in the Supreme Court, 15 percent said they had faith in the police and just 9 percent said they had faith in the government.

Mitchell Barak, who heads Keevoon, an Israeli research firm in Jerusalem, says recent surveys conducted by his firm show Israelis are more concerned with corruption than with threats from the Arab world.

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Eti Doron, a toy store owner in Tel Aviv, says a weariness has descended upon Israelis.

"There is a feeling of being down. People are not sure what is happening with the country," she said. "Socialism has disappeared, the corruption is worrisome and our leaders are power-mongers."

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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