Encountering Israel

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4. "Abandoned tank from 1948 War of Independence":  next to cafe rest stop off main highway, Jordan Valley.<br />
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Military presence is evident everywhere in Israel. One finds archaeological fragments at venerated sites, artifacts and detritus like this tank from more recent battles, and soldiers are omnipresent on the streets.<br />
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This tank, ensconced on a concrete slab just outside a cafe off a main highway in the Jordan Valley, at first struck me as incongruous. Palm trees waved in the breeze overhead, and the tank (sans treads) had become a permanent, surreal fixture. On one side of it, someone had scrawled the word "Berlin," as if to put Israel's 1948 War of Independence into that chilling context.<br />
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Historian Marc Rosenstein challenges us to consider Israel's "struggle to survive as a state" and asks, will it "live forever by the sword?" I'm reminded of what Moshe Dayan, who was commander of the Jerusalem front in 1948, then had to say: "...without the steel helmet and the gun's muzzle we will not be able to plant a tree...." I was here to plant a tree! How did this apply to me?