Steve Lunetta: Slides from the Holy Land

Steve Lunetta: Right About Now

Sunday school. Many of us remember being dragged to church every Sunday to be educated on spiritual topics ranging from original sin to end times theology. I didn’t think these things were important then, but now I realize that they are.

Our spiritual beliefs are closely intertwined with our culture, our society, and our government. To neglect these beliefs is a serious mistake.

Sometimes Mrs. Dasso, our Sunday school teacher, would be out for some reason and we’d get a substitute. The sub was generally unprepared, so we’d get a filmstrip presentation on some biblical topic.

We sarcastically called this “slides from the Holy Land.” This also echoed getting bored to death at a relative’s house as he or she recounted the latest vacation by forced viewing of slides in the Kodak projector. Zzzz …

Then it should not be any surprise to you that Trish and I just got back from Israel (the Holy Land) and I intend to share with our dear readers my verbal slides. With 51 other people from our church, we spent 10 days exploring this amazing land.

Israel is a sliver of a country on the far eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea south of Europe. It’s about 8000 square miles – a little bit less than the size of Massachusetts. It is 71 miles at its widest and 9 miles wide at its narrowest.

It’s sort of like thinking that Mexico starts in Northridge for those of us in the SCV. Yeah, it’s small.

Also, all of its neighbors are sworn enemies of Israel and would like to see all of them dead. Well, that is not quite true. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel, so there is some peace.

But the rest of Israel’s neighbors would like nothing more than to see Tel Aviv burn.

Within Israel, there are also those who would like to see the Jewish state evaporate. Many different Arab/Muslim groups exist within the boundaries of Israel and most, oddly, are Israeli citizens.

A few years ago, the leader of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, began a brutal campaign of suicide bombing that was sourced from youths in the Israeli Muslim community. Israel built fences to control the flow of people from those communities.

Guess what happened? The bombings stopped. Maybe fences do work in given situations.

The really sad thing, of course, is that the Palestinians could have had a homeland long ago if they had just been willing to compromise. Arafat was offered a homeland as well as the original partition deal from 1948 that made Israel in the first place.

All the Palestinians had to do was work together. Being stubborn and intractable has gotten them nothing for 70 years. I think there is a lesson for us Americans in there somewhere.

Being surrounded by enemies both inside and out has had a definite impact on the culture and society of Israel. Especially on their attitude about guns.

There are soldiers and police with automatic weapons everywhere. And the weapons are serious automatic weapons. Active military and reservists take home these guns and have them in their closets.

Funny, you never hear of mass shootings in Israel. With so many automatic weapons, you’d think there would be a blood bath in the streets every weekend. But it does not happen.

This experience has certainly helped me re-think the whole gun control issue here. If guns were the sole reason why a Columbine or a San Bernardino happens, then why does it not happen in Israel, where most citizens are armed to the teeth?

Seems to me like there is something else involved. Maybe Israelis choose not to view wanton violence produced by the entertainment industry?

Maybe their children are taught at an early age not to glorify violence? Maybe the sheer presence of so much weaponry has caused Israelis to mature more rapidly in this area?

It’s possible that how Israelis bring up their children affects gun violence in their society.

Military service is compulsory in Israel: three years for boys and two years for girls. I have pictures (“slides”) of 18- to 20-year-old women walking the streets of Jerusalem with modified M-16s (or Tavors).

Would we trust our teenage girls with that much firepower? I don’t think so. But the Israelis do and, strangely, so did I. How is Israel creating these mature and responsible young people? Another lesson for us Americans to learn.

You may say, “but, Steve, there was so much more to learn in Israel than guns.” And you are correct. We just got through the first slide carousel. See those 17 others sitting in the corner? Slides from the Holy Land.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and an admitted Zionist. Oy vey. He can be reached at [email protected].

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