Public discourse in Israel tends to ignore the increasingly positive feelings toward the Jews, claiming instead that the whole world hates us.
Several months ago I was sitting with a friend at a café in a European capital. An older man and woman were sitting at a nearby table. Suddenly they began looking at us and stopped talking. The man pricked up his ears and then stood up and approached us.
“You’re Israelis? Right?” he asked. We nodded. There was no point denying it in any event, even though I was sure of what was going to follow. And I was right.
With a highly important expression on his face, as if he were presiding over an important official ceremony, he said: “I wanted to tell you that I’m on your side. I support Israel and have since I’ve known anything about life. You’re an advanced country, cultured, surrounded by savages. What they’re doing to you is just scandalous. Hypocrisy. Don’t you think?”
We looked at him sheepishly. There was no point arguing. The forced conversation would continue. Our flush-faced neighbor, who had already had more than one drink, shifted his remarks to praise of Prime Minister Netanyahu. “If only we could have a leader like that,” he declared. “We also need to build a wall.” He even added that Netanyahu had solved the problem of traffic congestion on Israel’s roads. “I don’t miss a single speech of Netanyahu’s at the UN. Ask my wife how he fills me with pride,” the man said.