Monday, December 15, 2008

Return to the United States - Reflections

It was a long trip back to the U.S. from Israel..a 2.5 hour flight to Istanbul, 11 hours to Chicago and 2.5 to Jacksonville. All my trips were on Turkish airways, which has super service. This up and coming airline flies to both Chicago and NYC from Istanbul each day. It has a modern fleet flying to all continents.

Reflecting on my trip, several things stand out. Turkey is a modern nation with excellent facilities. It appears to be a major tourist spot for Europeans, less so for those coming from the Americas. It is huge (the size of Texas) and has immense biodiversity, as well as human cultures because it is located strategically between Asia, Europe and also by extension Africa. As a democracy, it is a thriving secular example in an area all too often characterized by totalitarian and religious fundamentalist governments. This is well acknowledged as the work of Mustafa Kamel Ataturk, the republic's first president. Although diverse, the population is more or less sedentary in nature with little in migration. It has fewer modern scholars than Israel, although if the University of Mugla is any indication, this could mean a big shift in the future.

Israel by contrast is much smaller than Turkey. Its biodiversity is limited by an arid climate; at one time this "land of milk and honey" was probably much more lush. Lions and their prey could be found, but human settlement has succeeded in causing the extinction of a wide array of wildlife. Like Turkey it is a democracy and also has a seminal figure in Chaim Weizman, the first president. The population is more characterized by in migration from the Jews of war-torn Europe to the more recent Africans (Ethiopian). It is much more oriented toward modern science via its population of scholars, and is a country noted for its large number of innovations. This continues today with emphasis on biotechnology startups.

Beekeeping in both Turkey and Israel too is reflected in the contrasts and similarities brought out above. I hope to be writing about those in the future.

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