Soul Of America




The beach in Haifa, Israel

 credit Ken Ngwa




by Ken Ngwa


    Israel at 61 is a budding democracy rich with a history that towers over it's age. As the country matures, like other democracies it now faces issues of growth via cultural and religious diversification. Waves of Russian Non-Jewish immigrants, African-American settlers from Chicago, and a surplus of South Asian labor have forever changed the face of Israel.


    The new nation swelling with so much culture now has the hard task of adapting or imploding.  I myself am an African who was given the opportunity to see Israel in a unique light. Initially, I was invited to Israel by a cousin who happened to be stationed working at the Bahai' Center in Haifa. As a native of Cameroon and a citizen of the United States, the country at first puzzled me. Israel contains so many varied people from all over the world and yet it seemed cultural cliques were the norm.


Wares for sale by a street vendor in Jerusalem, Israel

 credit Ken Ngwa


   Seeing Israel was as if I got a glimpse into America before the melting pot. Before, people had been given the opportunity to fully assimilate. Walking the Kotel in Jerusalem or the Tayelit in Haifa, I viewed Israel in two varying perspectives.


   As an American, I marveled at the mall of Jerusalem and at the modernity of most of the country. The realization that most buildings contained concrete bomb shelters was especially unnerving. Being American, (the most prized of foreigners) I was able to travel about with ambivilance. Percieved as being a Black American I could avoid being searched before entering shopping areas or have a passing glance given to my bags as others were more thoroughly scanned.



 A typical concrete-reenforced hostel in Tel Aviv, Israel

credit Ken Ngwa


   As an African however, i recoiled at the exploitation of labor and the sub-par conditions in which illegals lived within. After speaking with a West-African man nicknamed "Amadou", I learned of the many refugees who trek long distances for the slim hope of one day finding a safe place to call home. Throughout my experience within Israel, I met tourists, illegal immigrants and Aliyah arrivees. All of whom felt a connection and a sense of belonging to the land.


Mimie act in the marketplace

credit Ken Ngwa


   The epicenter or perhaps a glimpse into Israel's future lies in a small patch of Earth in the center of Tel Aviv, the Tahana Merkazit. It is the one area where thanks to the Central Bus Station, everyday Israeli's rich and poor have some interaction with the newest immigrants in the land. The Tehana Merkazit in Tel Aviv is comparable to the five points in early New York City.


   Teaming unwashed masses lay claim to a few square miles of land. As I walked the shopping area with a friend, he pointed and remarked, "This is not Israel, this is Africa."  I thought his words amusing, but upon surveying the area, I couldn't help but feel he was correct.


New Israelis seeking acceptance

credit Ken Ngwa


   The biblical Abraham’s custom was to welcome guests with open arms. The question put before you is, what if the guest never planned on leaving? Though I myself can offer no clear definitive answer, I must say that in order for Israel to move into the new millennium, it has to reconcile with it's place as a democracy as well as a Jewish State.


   Ken Ngwa's Book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and via his website (click image below):



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