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Emil Amok!

My Global Pinoy pal in Israel

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Diaspora is mainly a Jewish term describing Jews who live outside of Israel. Filipinos have their diaspora too. But what if a Filipino married a Jew and returned to Israel? One diaspora would end, but one would continue as it has for my friend Rod McLeod in Israel.

McLeod retired last year from his post as the former partner of a top international law firm in San Francisco. He was always an advocate for Filipino empowerment in local U.S. politics. But now he finds that boring, especially since he’s in the middle of all the political action now.

Last week when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the U.N. about Iran’s nuclear capability, he was pressuring the Obama administration to get tough with Iran. But Netanyahu implied there would be no October Surprise, no attack by Israeli before the November elections.

I knew as much because I had contacted my friend Rod around the Jewish New Year Celebration of 5773 last month. His perception was there would be no war before the election. He was right.

His other thoughts:

“There are constant articles in the papers/talk shows about the Iran issue, whether to bomb or not. With the attacks on the American consulates, it appears now that there will be no Israeli attack this year. There was some thought about an attack this fall, before the US elections. The Israeli populace really would rather not have a war with Iran if it can be avoided. But unless Iran desists from its path, there will be one.

Despite this overhang of a potentially catastrophic war, Israelis remain sanguine. They’ve been living for so long in a hostile neighborhood that they don’t let the dangers deter them from building a modern society. It’s a bit like San Franciscans continuing to live well while knowing the Big One could come any day.

As far as safety goes, tourists have nothing to fear. Actually foreign tourists can safely travel to the West Bank, while Israelis go there under some apprehension. I don’t feel any danger nor am I concerned in traveling around the country.

I get my news from two local papers and the Int’l Herald Tribune, as well as Fox News, CNN, France 24, and the BBC.

About US elections, people still like Obama, which I can’t understand, since his policies have undermined the peace process. Romney made a good impression when he visited here. Generally, they don’t want to interfere in the US elections and await its outcome, ready to work with whoever wins. I do have a feeling that Americans instinctively support Israel for a variety of reasons: same source for religion (Abraham); same love for democracy; smart, hard-working people; hi-tech orientation (you do know that IBM has its largest research center here and that one of 4 Intel R+D centers is here; actually Intel is the country’s largest private employer).

You need to understand what a noisy, vibrant democracy Israel has. You see it in the newspapers on a daily basis — former Mossad directors cautioning against bombing Iran or accusing Bibi of having a Messianic complex; Shimon Peres himself coming out against a pre-emptive strike. Everyone has an opinion, and they love to voice them.

5773 should be a very interesting year. I do think there will be a war with Iran. But am not worried about it. If it happens, it happens. Israel will survive.”

It’s just one view from a Filipino American who has started a life in Israel. Already he seems to have adapted to the life with a certain confidence and fearlessness. I doubt that living in an earthquake zone really compares to the geo-political tension of living in Israel. One is Mother Nature, the other is man-made. You can’t convince Mother Nature to hold off from rupturing a fault. But you can convince reasonable men and women that peace is a better alternative.

Since the first email, we’ve exchanged others. It’s given me a new way to look at events in Israel.

My friends are there. Filipinos are there.

For politicians and diplomats the peace process is hard. But for regular folks, the peace process is a simple one. It can begin simply by reaching out with innocent emails, worlds apart.

Updates: www.amok.com , twitter@emilamok


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