There comes a time in the lives of many people when they have to face an unpleasant truth — home is no longer the welcoming, nurturing place it once was and, reluctantly, it's time to leave.
It happens to many early in life when they realize it's time to leave the nest and fly under their own power. Goodbye ma, goodbye pa, your baby's go'n to see the world, oh yeah, oh yeah.
It happens to many more later in life when the kids are all grown, the work week has become a fading memory and the once-vital strength of youth gives way to the inexorable composting of old age. Can't take care of the ol' homestead anymore; the place is a death trap to brittle old bones.
I'm not sure which of those moving moments Israel is at — if either — a 66-year-old adolescent ready to leave home or a young senior finding home far from a safe haven. Either way, if the Israelis ever want to live in peace, it's time to leave home.
Sometimes I wonder if the Israelis can even imagine what living in peace would be like, living without wondering when the next suicide bomber, rocket attack, crazy-ass martyr looking forward to his 72 virgins might descend upon them. Wondering when their leaders will next decide to get all Old Testament on those who wish them ill and attack them, regardless of how ineffectually.
Sometimes I wonder whether such a peaceful reality is even possible for any of us, given the monstrous size of the worldwide armament industry. Seems odd we can, mostly, agree to ban asbestos but provide tax credits, state-sponsored financing and encouragement to an industry capable of putting a rocket launcher and automatic weapon in the hands of every child on Earth.
But back to the plan for peace in our time. With all due ironic deference to both Neville Chamberlain and Noël Coward, there will never be peace in the Middle East in our time. There may be peace between the Israelis and their Palestinian/Arab neighbours however. But only if Israel packs up and moves... to Florida.
Why Florida? Glad you asked.
For starters, I don't think we could interest Israel in PEI. Too cold; too inhospitable. Nice neighbours though. And really, it's nice neighbours we're after here.
The U.S. could afford to lose Florida. Some people would say the country would be better off without it. Many of those people are called Democrats. Others point to the fact Florida is the federal corruption capital of the country, enjoys the highest per capita rate of fraud, a well-funded education system that consistently ranks in the bottom quarter in the country, a top-5 ranking in the Most Dangerous State category, and, chronically, a top ranking in mortgage fraud. It's a sinkhole for property insurers, sitting as it does in the middle of hurricane alley and, at the end of the day, it's probably close to a wash financially.
Geographically, Florida is fairly isolated. Mostly it's surrounded by water, sharing parts of its panhandle with Georgia and Alabama. And if truth be told, the U.S. acquired Florida under false pretences. Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. for $5 million and a promise the U.S. would renounce any claims to Texas. Well, we know how that turned out, don't we?
And if all of that isn't enough, Florida has spawned Anita Bryant, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, any one of which would be more than sufficient reason to give it away.
Other than the usual minority of rednecks and bigots, the residents of Florida and the surrounding states don't pose a plausible threat to the new state of Israel. Oh sure, there is the usual dose of anti-Semitism. Some of it could even be called virulent, but most of it is of the you-can't-join-my-country-club variety.
Would the people of Florida be down with this idea? Maybe. Those who want to stay would enjoy the benefits of less corrupt government, a more dynamic economy — after all, the place will need a lot of new housing — and, finally, universal health care. And let's not overlook the fact Florida already boasts the third-largest Jewish population in the U.S.
Florida would be a definite trade up for Israel. Florida is almost eight times the size of Israel, has great agricultural potential and, perhaps most importantly, the largest collection of theme parks in one place in the U.S., including the Holy Land Experience.
Located outside Orlando — aren't they all? — the Holy Land Experience has already recreated much of ancient Jerusalem, the Garden Tomb, Dead Sea Caves, and other biblical attractions. With the cutting-edge theme park designers who have found such fertile ground in Florida and the wisdom of the ages that abounds in Israel's biblical scholars, it wouldn't take long to faithfully recreate virtually all of Israel, both modern and ancient, within central Florida, er, Israel. From Masada to Nazareth, tourists could peacefully walk the path of ancients and enjoy authentic reproductions of favourite biblical scenes. Heck, with the dumbing down potential of social media, it would probably only take a generation or two before no one remembered Jesus didn't really live in the place formerly known as Florida, whatever Florida was.
Would it be expensive? Of course it would. Everything's expensive. But how expensive is a continuing state of war? How expensive is Israel's defense budget? How expensive is the aid provided by countries around the world to support the current location of Israel? The payback on relocating Israel to Florida in strictly monetary terms would be insignificant. The payback in world peace and not having to watch Western leaders torture the very concept of justice to support the ongoing war between Israel and its neighbours would be immeasurable.
If President Obama is really serious about helping broker a peace plan in the Middle East and wishes to have a hope in hell of salvaging his presidency, he ought to be willing to ante up Florida as the New, Improved Israel. If the other Western countries are equally serious, they ought to help fund the effort.
The U.S. would have a strong, faithful neighbour buffering it from its paranoid delusions about Cuba. Israel would have peace and a defense budget on par with state police budgets, Holy Land tourists could finally enjoy security and safety when they visit centres of biblical mythology, and we could all watch the factions left in the Middle East duke it out among each other without really giving a damn which side prevailed.
Talk about your win-win.
Of course, this won't happen. There are too many people and too many governments with too much invested in the continuing, festering, war-without-end status quo.
Makes you wonder why, doesn't it?