A father is asked by his friend, “Has your son decided what he wants to be when he grows up?” “Yes, he wants to be a garbage collector,” replied the boy’s father. His friend thought for a moment and responded, “That’s a strange ambition to have for a career.” “Well,” said the boy’s father, “he thinks that garbage collectors only work on Tuesdays!”
The modern state of Israel is a miraculous story. To see what the Jewish people have done in that tiny piece of real estate since returning in 1948 is a wonder to behold (especially when you consider the many obstacles they have faced along the way). But that is not to say it is once again the land of milk and honey. If the truth be told, it has become more like the land of rubbish and garbage. Let me explain:
Trash/Lots – On a per person basis, Israelis are the second biggest creators of garbage in the world. (First on the list? Canadians.) The primary reason for this is that the current second generation of Israelis have, unlike their parents, known only affluence in a throw away society. As one Jewish commentator writes:
“The generation that founded this land were men and women fighting for survival. Many had survived the holocaust under unconceivable conditions. This was a generation that never would have dreamed of throwing out food, packaging or wrappers. Our parents would have always found a way to reuse everything.”
Territory/Less – Israel is one of the smallest countries in the world with a total land area of 20,000 sq. km. (Canada, in comparison, has 10,000,000 sq. km.) And the average home size in Israel is much less (1,200 sq. ft.) than that of Canada (2,000 sq. ft.). And there’s little storage space. As one real estate agent put it:
“Most Israeli homes do not have a basement, garage, attic or any other kind of extra storage area. The available storage space in the average Israeli home is approximately 5% (yes, I said 5%) of a North American home. So if you bring the North American quantity of ‘stuff’, be prepared to have lots of boxes around your house … And whether you buy or rent, dwellings only come with the four bare walls. There are no appliances, counters, cabinets or closets. They are expensive to get and are kept portable (meaning you take all of them with you when you move).”
And recycling? The entire Middle East has been so used to just throwing things outside, that whereas in Canada, 95% of Canadians “reduce, reuse, recycle”, even in Israel, the figure is less than 1 in 4 (mostly the Jews from Europe being the only practitioners).
To be fair, Israel is still a developing country and for a long time other things were far more important, like security and defense, with the environment being low priority. And only recently has the government begun to take steps to rectify the situation (and knowing the Jews, once they give their attention to a problem, they’ll come up with ingenious ways to solve it). But in the meantime, they’ve got a lot of garbage, very little place to put it, and it’s only getting worse by the year.
The bottom line? I think this is one time that the good Lord will forgive us for “trash-talking” Israel.