Israel wears a different face to those of us for whom Tel Aviv or Jerusalem is pre-eminently the nice place to visit that we prefer not to inhabit. From my epicenter in Yeroham, it is the Negev--more than 60% of Israel's land mass--that exercises the greater, more immediate attraction, and whose measure, width, and depth are my newfound coextensions: for all my purposes, practical and impractical, Negev is Walden. Forays into it are my social archaeology, my personalist economics, my autodidactic excavations into surrounding, encroaching, clashing versions of Zionism fulfilled. The digs have resulted in a series of impressions from--old Jewish habit-- the periphery; hardly disinterested, in the service (at least in part) of self-justification, they are, I think, sufficiently asymmetric to yield some perspectives both valid and new on contemporary Israel that would not easily yield themselves yet for ready, roseate doctoring by some postcard portraitist.
" Arad," most any resident will tell you more often than you may really care to hear, "is special. It's just not the same as other development towns."