Finally, Israel is a normal country - comment

Watching Air Force One land at Ben-Gurion Airport, seeing Biden walk down the steps and be greeted by Lapid, Bennett and Herzog, fills us with pride.

 President Isaac Herzog and US President Joe Biden listen as Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid delivers remarks during welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
President Isaac Herzog and US President Joe Biden listen as Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid delivers remarks during welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

We love to complain in Israel that we’re not a normal country and that existential events are constantly unfolding, with scandals or threats of war or terrorism never more than a heartbeat away.

If only we could be like other Western countries, where there is more stability and less volatility – where the worries most people have is about their pocketbooks and traffic jams.

Well, guess what? It looks like we’ve made it. On the momentous day when the leader of the free world arrived in Israel for potentially fateful talks on the Iranian nuclear threat, normalization of ties with Saudi Arabia and the future of the status of Palestinians and Jerusalem, Israelis seemed to be most concerned with how they were going to get home.

All of the leading Hebrew websites, including Walla and Ynet, published large, detailed maps and text of the minute-by-minute road closures due to President Joe Biden’s motorcade and tips on circumventing the blockage.

Many commuters stayed home on Wednesday, as the relatively empty Jerusalem roads attested. And that’s likely to continue until Air Force One takes off on Friday to sweep Biden away to Saudi Arabia.

 US President Joe Biden participates in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO) US President Joe Biden participates in a welcoming ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, Israel, July 13, 2022 (credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Surely, most Israelis are full of appreciation for the special relationship the country has forged with the US. Every visit by a president only contributes to the sense that, despite peaks and valleys, it continues to grow stronger.

Watching Air Force One land at Ben-Gurion Airport and seeing Biden walk down the steps to be greeted in a stately ceremony by Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog couldn’t help but fill us with pride.

Still, it’s inevitable that many Israelis are just too busy picking up the kids from summer camp, dealing with work assignments, grocery shopping or sipping hafuch at outdoor cafes to be more than peripherally aware that Biden is even visiting.

 It just doesn’t talk to them or have any relevance to their day-to-day lives… until they’re stuck in traffic for two hours because of the presidential motorcade.

However inconvenient Biden’s visit may be for some of us caught in the road-closure crossfire, there’s a silver lining to keeping the car parked at home and hunkering down until Friday. We won’t have to head to the gas station and cringe when we see the price of filling up the tank.

Another sign that, for all our idiosyncrasies, Israel has slowly turned into a normal country.