Journalist shares tales of living, working in Israel
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:17PM
Linda Gradstein has spent the past 20 years as a journalist covering every major story in Israel.
On Sunday, the NPR contributor and Middle East Bureau chief of The Media Line came to Northfield to share with an interested audience some of what she knows about the country.
Hosted by Temple Jeremiah, in support of the Jewish United Fund-Israel Emergency Fund, Gradstein delivered a presentation called Israel in the New Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities to a roomful of about 150 temple members.
“I’m always interested in learning more about the Middle East, current events and the potential for future peace,” said Marina Goodman, of Glenview.
Rabbi Paul Cohen of Temple Jeremiah chose Gradstein as the speaker for the annual JUF-hosted event at the synagogue, and said one of the reasons was because of the recent elections that took place there.
“Now is a seminal moment in Israel with the elections just having concluded and the work being done to create the government, said Cohen. “These elections demonstrated a desire for change, and we wanted to hear from someone involved and living there, about her impressions and her ideas of what may come to be.”
Gradstein, who maintains personal relationships with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as hundreds of Israelis throughout the region described the latest election as having “interesting results.”
“First of all, there are more women in this Knesset than ever before,” she said. “There is also an American rabbi who I know is the first American to be sworn into the Knesset in 30 years.”
She also talked about what the election results mean for Israel.
“For the first time, Israel voted on economic and social issues, and less on security,” said Gradstein, who is originally from New York, but who lives in Israel with her husband and four children. “That’s a vote for normalcy, and I think instead of a right wing ultra orthodox coalition, I think we’ll get a more centrist coalition.”
Gradstein doesn’t believe the election results mean Israel is sacrificing security. She said that the country is still very concerned about Iran.
“We know security is an important issue, but it can’t be the only issue,” she said.
In addition to the election, Gradstein spoke about the economy in Israel, the high standard of living, and the lack of housing for middle class Israelis, as well as the many different education systems the country has.
She also touched on the high taxes Israelis pay, as well as the healthcare system in the country.
“We’ve heard Linda many times on NPR and we have a lot of respect for her,” said Ernie Schubert of Northbrook. “We always want to know what’s going on in Israel. We’re Jewish.”